ClubTest: Putters

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Never Compromise Gray Matter 2 Mid Mallet $255 The company line "Our high-tech lightweight insert, weaved of aluminum and graphite, contributes to extreme heel-toe weighting, consistently straighter roll and soft, yet solid, feel." Our testers say This midsize aluminum mallet proved a reliable performer. panelists embraced the clever weighting scheme--lightweight face with a tungsten-infused heel and toe. "The balance made my stroke as rhythmic as a metronome," said Kirk Fischer (handicap 7). "Don't be fooled by its compactness," said Roger Liau (17). "this darling packed a punch for jittery hands." Gary Wilson (13) added, "Putts hold their line." Yet, the test group seemed hot and cold in terms of feel. Guys like Keith Borgfeldt (18) and Mark Waldheim (12) agreed that "impact was smooth and soft." Dissenters included Jim Perzan (9) and Gerald Holtzman (0). "It was too metallic for me," said Holtzman. "I prefer a softer feel on pured strokes." Additional Comments: "The wide gray stripe helped you focus on the center of the face." - Hoai Hoang (8) "Looked like a blade with a mallet blended nicely onto the back." - Victor DeMarco (12) "Mis-hits? What mis-hits?" - Ken Stauffer (14)
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Nickent Pipe PP-02 $199 The company line "Innovative cylinder pipe on the top of the head provides a 3-D visual readout of exactly where the putter is lined up." Our testers say Despite awarding the Pipe respectable feel and control ratings, our panel couldn't come to grips with the putter's unconventional and "distracting" design. "It looked like they slapped a piece of PVC pipe to the top of the mallet," said Keith Borgfeldt (handicap 18). Hoai Hoang (8) compared it to "a putter that my uncle could have made in his basement." Still, the design "flat out works" and "leads to superb distance control," Hoang said. Others felt the white pipe was a useful alignment tool. "It pointed the way very effectively," said Kirk Fischer (7). Roger Liau (17) praised the putter's solid feel. "Every putt," he said, "felt like I nailed it dead-center." Additional Comments: "It's head-heavy, which makes it so easy to swing." - Jim Perzan (9) "A clunky feel when not struck square in front of the pipe." - Mark Waldheim (12) "Center contact got dependable results." - Ken Stauffer (14)
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Taylor Made Rossa Monza Corza $208 The company line "Several new high-performance features--including an Anti-skid Groove System insert (AGSI), moveable weight technology and a smoother, more accurate roll." Our testers say She's a looker. "The most handsome, sophisticated putter of the bunch," proclaimed Roger Liau (handicap 17). Added Jim Perzan (9), "The black sight line was enhanced by the head's open architecture." This stylish beauty has substance, too. "Feedback was precise and immediate," said Doug Lair (10). "No mistaking off-center hits--they make a higher-pitched 'tink' than those nailed dead-on." Gary Wilson (13) said, "Directional control was first-class. The club swung effortlessly." yet, the benefit of the AGSI face insert wasn't apparent to all. "Putts appeared to roll no differently," said Gerald Holtzman (0). Additional Comments: "Looks like a Ferrari, performs like a Honda." - Victor DeMarco (12) "Long alignment line makes it easy to aim." - Pete Stonestreet (12) "Stable head delivers just enough feedback on contact." - Ken Stauffer (14)
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Ping G5I CRAZ-E $165 The company line "Our two-piece urethane insert is softer on the perimeter and firmer in the middle to promote a softer feel and sound and a higher initial velocity." Our testers say You'd be crazy not to try this putter. It just missed out on grabbing top honors. Our guys went nuts over its stability and balance. "As accurate on off-center hits as some others are off the sweet spot," raved Doug Liar (handicap 10). Victor DeMarco (12) noted, "It's just plain hard to mis-hit." And when you do misfire, said Jim Perzan (9), "you still feel like you have a good chance to make the putt." Hoai Hoang (8) described the look as "a cool, almost artistic design." Testers trumpeted the dual durometer face insert. "The click and roll were reminiscent of putters from the old Anser days, with more forgiveness," said Gerald Holtzman (0). Added Gary Wilson (13), "I loved the smooth, buttery feel." Additional Comments: "Its great balance made lag putting automatic." - Kirk Fischer (7) "A little bottom-heavy. Helped me control speed and distance." - Ken Stauffer (14) "Reliable feel led to a true roll." - Keith Borgfeldt (18)
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Nike OZ Black T130 $169 The company line "Two 65-gram tungsten weights positioned in the extreme heel and toe reduce skidding and keep off-center hits on track." Our testers say Those 130 grams of tungsten pulled their weight. The OZ earned unrivaled marks for both feel and control. Panelists drained the most putts with OZ and afterward voted it Testers' Top Pick. "The weight felt like you control it, and not vice versa," said Gerald Holtzman (handicap 0). Pete Stonestreet (12) said, "The head was heavy so a short backswing went a long way." Added Kirk Fischer (7), "Impact was crisp and forceful-there was no sense of torque or twist." The black, horseshoe-shaped head raised eyebrows, but most warmed to it. "It left no doubt that you were getting the most that technology had to offer," said Gary Wilson (13). "Looks aside, it was easy to get the ball rolling on-line. And it stayed on-line. That's the bottom line," said Ken Stauffer (14) Additional Comments: "Distance control is its strong suit." - Roger Liau (17) "Sweet feel promoted true roll and distance control" - Victor DeMarco (12) "Mid-range accuracy was outstanding. A birdie-maker for good iron players." - Doug Liar (10)