Putting Priorities

By Pete Wofford

Is this the year you make the commitment to become a better putter? Is this the year that you spend as much practice time on the putting green as at the driving range? And, is this the year that you finally tell yourself “I am a great putter?”
As much as we would like to stick to our New Year’s resolutions, most of us will probably still end up at the range working on our full swings, chasing the dream of 10 more yards off the tee. “I am surprised by the never-ending trend of fewer putting lessons, particularly since better putting it is the single easiest way to improve your game,” said Mark Timms, owner of Hot Stix Golf, retail store and makers of custom- fitting software. “Simply altering the student’s stance or posture, and the length or weight of the putter, can save five strokes per round.”
So when looking for a better game in 2006, start on the putting green and try these models destined to catch your eye. Sure the mallet shape is popular, inserts with grooves have a buzz and moveable weight technology adds to the custom-fitting options, but the bottom line is in the eye of the beholder. “Feel is still the answer,” said Bobby Grace, club designer for MacGregor Golf. “And feel starts with the look, the weight, then the sound. You put all that together and you have a great putter and a confident puttee, if there is such a word.”
 1. MacGregor’s Fat Lady Swings Again
Refreshed, modernized, and re-tooled with today’s moveable weight technology, Mac- Gregor’s Fat Lady Swings putter designed by Bobby Grace is back in the marketplace and on Tour. “It’s a clean look that better players remember and still want,” said Grace. “We have taken the original design [from the 1990s] and upgraded the production, the look, the feel, and the custom fitting options.” The low profile, stepped malletshaped clubhead is milled aluminum with a softer Beryllium Copper insert. A deeper center of gravity and high moment of inertia provides clubhead stability. ($180;
2. Odyssey Tri-Ball
You knew it was coming. If you liked the Odyssey 2-ball White Steel putter, why not three balls? The Odyssey White Steel SRT (Saturn Ring Technology) Tri-Ball is all about redefining alignment technology through weightshifting science. Combining a lightweight frame with a dual urethane insert and a milled stainless steel insert, the putter features a deeper center of gravity, which the company claims is more forgiving. Besides the three-ball alignment aid, the lightweight aluminum body enhances the acoustics for a better feel. ($249; 
3. TaylorMade’s Groove
TaylorMade Golf’s Monza Corza features a large, mallet-style clubhead engineered with four performance features including (1) an anti-skid groove insert, (2) moveable weight technology, (3) a semi-floating clubface for higher moment of inertia and (4) a vivid linear alignment aid. The biggest impact is in the groove insert, a dense metal alloy with the narrowest of grooves that are filled with a soft polymer to dampen vibration. The unique shape of the grooves “hold” the ball through impact, reducing backspin and promoting forwardspin. The moveable weights range from 4 to 28-gram cartridges. ($208;
4. Cameron Circa 62
Scotty Cameron is back with classics. The new Cameron Circa 62 putters are milled from 8620 carbon steel. Finished in black oxide, Circa 62 offers a soft, responsive feel and classic lines,” said Chris McGinley, Vice President Golf Club Marketing, Titleist. In all there are four models, all measuring 35-inches in length with black leather grips. ($300;
5. Ping G5i Putters
Expanding on the success of the alignment lines and the urethane insert of last year’s Ping G2i series, new in 2006 is the Ping G5i available in 11 models. Alignment is improved with a ball-width crescent-shaped top rail. The company’s Optigraphic Alignment System in the back of each model further assists alignment. The dual durometer insert combines a soft perimeter with a firmer impact surface that Ping claims provides the feel and feedback  required for optimal distance control. An average inertia increase of 10 percent across the new line of G5i is attributed to re-distribution of weight, resulting from the addition of thru holes and sole cavities. ($135-$205;