GOLF Magazine tests and reviews blade putters

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ClubTest June 2008: Blade Putters A half-dozen sweet-swinging, smooth-feeling flat sticks. How We Did It We assigned each of our 14 ClubTesters a putting lane on the practice green. Testers struck 12 putts per putter from three to 40 feet. (We provided them with 34- and 35-inch putters.) Panelists took note of feel, look and control, and also shared their overall impressions. Our exclusive research partner, Hot Stix Golf, measured roll on center hits and heel-toe forgiveness using a mechanical putting device. Where We Did it The Hot Stix Performance Center at Legend Trail GC in Scottsdale, Ariz. Rating System - How it works: Testers vote on Look, Feel and Control. The winning model (the one that receives the most points) is awarded GOLF Magazine/ClubTest 5-star status.
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Boccieri Heavy C2-DF $169 WE TESTED 34" and 35" in True Temper steel shaft COMPANY LINE "The CNC-milled, stainless steel head has a grooved face pattern. Total club weight is 850 grams, which includes a 465-gram head (approx.) and 250- gram weight in the grip end to create a higher balance point (75 percent farther up the shaft) than a conventional putter." Our Test Panel Says ... Pros: The deep-face C2-DF ensures that straight-back-and-through strokes stay on plane; great for jamming in short putts; ball starts off on a nice roll, no jumping; smoothes out your stroke, helps prevent stabbing at the ball; short to mid-range putts stay online, find their target easily. Cons: Surprisingly challenging to manage distance on longer putts; not a finesse club, it has as much control [sometimes more] as you do; lacks precise feel on impact; downhill putts can be difficult to control; overall, it has a bland look. "Pull it back and the club will accelerate through impact." — Mark Waldheim (12)
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Mizuno Black Carbon BC1 $249 WE TESTED 34" and 35" in steel shaft COMPANY LINE "This is a one-piece, 100-percent milled carbon-steel putter. The milled area of the Feel Impact Technology (F.I.T) Face dramatically reduces the surface area of where the ball contacts the face, for a soft, solid feel. Has a glare-resistant black chrome finish." Our Test Panel Says ... Pros: Appealing look is its best asset, but impact feel is close behind; more-than-adequate directional forgiveness on mis-hits, very few 3- putts; precise, instant feel on center impact; sight line helps with alignment without being a distraction; excellent weight distribution facilitates a smooth stroke; putter face effectively dampens harshness on off-center contact; classic, contemporary look resonates with low-handicappers; softest feel in the test. Cons: Soft feel and lightish weight can make long putts difficult to judge; distance forgiveness could be better. "Center contact sends a congratulatory message up the shaft." — Gary Wilson (13)
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Never Compromise Gray Matter 2 Exchange #4 $299 WE TESTED 34" and 35" in steel shaft COMPANY LINE "The CNC-milled, 304-stainless steel head has a bent-neck hosel with 3/4-inch shaft offset. Interchangeable weights allow custom tuning to suit conditions, surfaces and player tendencies. Different weights create clubheads that range from 330 to 360 grams." Our Test Panel Says ... Pros: Distance control is a major attraction; the feel difference between center and off-center strikes is just enough to let you make adjustments; easy to control and forgiving enough for all handicap levels; adjustable weighting is popular with those who play a variety of courses; medium-soft impact feel; gray center section nicely frames the ball. Cons: A few testers prefer more spring or click at impact; alignment dot on top is too subtle; the stock grip has slick sides, which is a turnoff for those who use a "claw" grip. "Very well balanced —it seems to swing itself. Smooth is the word." — Mark Haberstroh (4)
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Odyssey White Hot Tour #2 $149 WE TESTED 34" and 35" in steel shaft COMPANY LINE "Weight ports in the sole allow us to precisely control head mass for consistency, control and performance. The two-piece insert —elastomer core and firm outer striking surface infused with urethane —has a firmer feel for feedback and responsiveness." Our Test Panel Says ... Pros: Terrific combination of feel, feedback and forgiveness; a pleasure for controlling distance; testers find it delivers the most consistent output in the test; firm insert asserts itself; works equally well with a pendulum or "swinging door" stroke; good directional control — a wide area of forgiveness allows you to be less than precise; bronze finish reduces glare. Cons: Bright white face insert stands out, maybe too much, against the otherwise understated look; on longer putts, you might need a bigger stroke than with other putters to get desired distance. "Quite an appealing look with the sensitivity and performance to match." — Rich Bernstein (12)
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SeeMore m2w $325 WE TESTED 34" and 35" in steel shaft COMPANY LINE "The m2w clubhead milled from 303-stainless lightweight milled 6061 back-cavity insert enhances heel-shafted design with (m2w), platinum finish Technology." Our Test Panel Pros: Fans of the alignment find setup to be dramatically above-average directional quite good if you need proper aim at address; blade on steroids; medium-weight helps you swing through in a consistent. Cons: Some find system to be more distracting useful; the hot face clubhead can make distance bit tricky; could use more distance wise on toe hits; doesn't sensation to hands. "It's easy to aim given so many built-in visual prompts." — Jim Esther (20)
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Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2 Detour $299 WE TESTED 34" and 35" in steel shaft COMPANY LINE "The face frame is milled from Studio stainless steel, the arched body and face are milled from aircraft aluminum. Its curved profile and sightline promote an inside-to-square-to-inside swing path. A stainless steel back weight pushes the center of gravity rearward." Our Test Panel Says ... Pros: The extended alignment aid gives a clear vision of the target line, where to aim and the path to take it back; proponents say the Detour delivers the crispness at impact that Camerons are known for; nice balance leads to natural pendulum stroke; a blade with modern directional forgiveness; rear-center weight contributes to good roll off the face. Cons: Distance forgiveness is only so-so on toe hits; detractors find it too light, with limited feedback, for great distance control; large "tongue" and orange grip throw some for a loop. "Like turning a jump rope — once you get it back the thru swing comes easily." Eric English (13)
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Winner - White Hot Tour #2 The White Hot Tour #2 separated itself from the competition. Testers gave it very high scores for look, feel, control and overall performance. Dual weight ports make it easy to match proper head weights to specific shaft lengths. • "Distance output matches the stroke — no misperceptions." — Mark Waldheim (12) • "A rewarding feel, even if you happen to hit it off center." — Mark Haberstroh (4) • "The brass colored finish gives the putter a classy look." — Dave Daumit (15) • "The face stays square and the head powers through ball." Hoai Hoang (9)
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Not your father's blades Years ago, you'd be out of luck if you mis-hit a blade putter. These six flat sticks prove that's not the case anymore. Hot Stix anchored each of the 35-inch putters to a mechanical putting device. Clubs made the same consistent backswing to hit a 17-foot putt (approx.) and we measured results for center hits, 3/4 inches toward the heel and 3/4 inches toward the toe. The chart on the left shows how each putter faired: WHAT WE LEARNED • Distance: The SeeMore, Titleist and Mizuno roll it the farthest on center hits. By contrast, the Boccieri, Odyssey and Never Compromise hit it the shortest. Neither way is better or worse; it's whether you prefer to make a longer or slightly shorter stroke to reach the hole. The difference on center contact between the longest and shortest model is less than two feet. • Forgiveness: All six putters do a respectable job when you compare distance output on center, heel and toe strikes. The most consistent putters, though, are the Odyssey White Hot Tour #2 and Boccieri Heavy C2-DF.