The new putter

November 28, 2013

one of the putter bags ...

one of the putter bags …

Golf posts have been light this year for a couple of reasons: 1) Back in the Spring, when I went to Washington, I somehow managed to strain my achilles tendon (it was not when I was hit by the car with diplomatic plates), which caused me a lot of trouble and is just now allowing me to walk without giving it a good deal of thought. I even went to the doctor about it; he recommended cowboy boots, which actually helped a bit.

2) Though I continued to play at golf in the interim, limping nine holes at a time, I was testing a new set of irons that were quite different from what the Mizuno Mp-67s I’ve played the past few years. I still am not sure I will play better with them, but I’ve put them in the bag, at least for now. I think I like them, but I’m not ready to report on them yet. (OK, I’m using the new TaylorMade Speedblades set up to my specs — KBS Tour shafts, tipped .5 inch — if you really care. One observation I’ll make is that I had to add a 48 degree Vokey pitching wedge to fill the gap between the set’s PW and my 51 degree gap wedge. The irons are long.)

But a little over a month ago, Cleveland sent me one of their just released Square Smart putters to try. Now my inclination is to dismiss out-of-hand most putter tech stories — I think there’s way more art than science involved in putting, and that almost any new putter will work well for you for awhile. I swap them out a lot, and I have am embarrassingly large collection. Lots of Scotty Camerons and Ping Ansers, but I’ve got an old Dunlop Seve Ballestros model in there somewhere. For a while I used a Wilson 8808.

For the most part, I’ve eschewed mallet styles — though I recall I had a Bobby Grace Fat Lady and one of the early Odyssey Rossie models — mainly because I like the feel and look of blade models. Back when I could really play, in the ’70s, I used an Acushnet Bullseye, and that’s still a style I gravitate to now and again.

cleveland-smart-square-3When I got the Smart Square, however, I was at a vulnerable time. I wasn’t putting much — most of the time I was playing three hole loops, just trying to get a feel for the new irons. I wasn’t playing serious golf, I wasn’t bringing on putts. And I wasn’t making any either.

But immediately after putting the Smart Square in the bag, I started to make a few. I specifically remember the second whole I played with it, I rolled in about a 30-footer for birdie. And six footers felt automatic.

Now I don’t know if the putter ws the reason, but let’s say it got my attention. And since I’ve been paying attention, I’ve putted really well. Really well.

Now, I’m not saying that won’t change, but here’s what Cleveland says about the technology:

“Following intensive research into the most successful putters of all time and what golfers focus on when they align a putt, the Smart Square incorporates alignment technology that has proven to be the most advanced – and simplest – we’ve ever created.

“The key to the Smart Square is Dual Axis Alignment. Two squares create parallel lines that frame the ball at address and provide a clear visual path to the hole. They also generate two perpendicular lines that easily highlight when the putter is misaligned – even by a fraction of a degree. Our testing shows players aligned the Smart Square 23% more accurately than one of the most popular putters of all time. (Monkey note: I think they’re talking about the Odyssey Two-Ball model here, a favorite among some of my playing partners.)

“The Smart Square promotes consistent roll with a copolymer face insert, which also enhances feel and sound at impact. Its high MOI design also minimizes distance loss on off-center hits.
True to Cleveland Golf’s emphasis on short game fitting, the Smart Square is available in three different options to suit a variety of stroke preferences. There are heel- and center-shafted versions available in standard lengths (the 35” heel-shafted model is enclosed). There’s also a 39-inch Almost Belly, with a heavier putter head (40 grams more than standard) and grip (2.5 times heavier than standard) to create counter-balanced weighting that adds stroke stability and consistency without anchoring.”

Look, wake me up in the middle of the night, I’ll probably still tell you I’m a blade putter. But I used to play blades in my irons too. Things change. The Smart Square is in my bag, at least until it’s not.

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