Friday, January 30, 2009

ORLANDO, Fla. -- I just found the club of the week at the PGA Merchandise Show. I’ll qualify that brash statement by pointing out that the two truly innovative clubs that may in fact transform the industry — the adjustable lie-and-loft drivers from Nike and TaylorMade — aren’t at the Show. Nike was at Wednesday’s Demo Day, so I was able to try out its new driver, but TaylorMade didn’t exhibit here at all and the new R9 driver, used by Pat Perez last week at the Bob Hope Classic, went unseen and un-hit. Axisputter The most exciting club I’ve found in two days is the Axis1 putter (see It’s not just another crazy-looking putter. Looking down the shaft, the putter head resembles a capital letter J. But it really works.
The Axis1 is all about balance. By putting the heel weight into an area that’s ahead of the putter face, the center of gravity moved to the sweet spot in the club, which also happens to align with the shaft. Designer Luis Pedraza showed me his balance test. He set up to putt using a regular putter, lifted it slightly off the ground and put a finger behind the shaft just above the head — and the head flopped open and flipped completely around. He then did the same test with his Axis1 and the putter head didn’t move.
Its unique shape creates a perfect balance and basically eliminates the usual twisting and torque made during the stroke. Most putters, by nature, want to open up (turn to the right) during a player’s stroke. The Axis1 doesn’t. Granted, I was stroking putts on a tiny putting carpet no more than six feet across, but it had an amazing feel, as if you have to struggle to hit a putt off-line.
How impressed was I? I bought one.

The club is USGA approved, although Pedraza spent six months debating it with the USGA in a process that normally takes only several weeks. The Axis1 may look weird — OK, it does look weird — but the science is sound and the proof was in my strokes. The club, which features a copper face insert and has a vibration-dampening steel shaft, costs $299 and is available through the company’s website.
My advice: Check it out.

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