The Local Knowlege

Gear & Equipment

It's a club with a joyful name. But will this putter make you happy?

Don't let the name fool you. The Happy Putter is rooted in some serious thought about what a putter could be.

Available online and shipping this month ($250), the putter takes its cue from the adjustable-driver movement, as well as tour players’ tendencies to tweak their putter specs based on course or stroke changes. Vikash Sanyal, CEO of parent company Brainchild Golf, believes the technology is more meaningful in putters than in drivers because the effects are more easily seen.


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"People understand the differences right away when they're playing shaggier Bermuda greens one day and bent greens another day, or they'll see right away that they're pulling all their putts to the left," says Sanyal, who was part of the original team at Odyssey Golf and later CEO of Never Compromise. "We're giving consumers access to something tour players have had forever."

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Available in either mallet or blade, the putter can be set to three lofts, three lie angles, three hosel offset positions and includes three sets of heel and toe weights. And if none of those changes works, the putter can be flipped over to work left-handed, too.



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Gear & Equipment

The thinking behind Scotty Cameron's new California gallery

By E. Michael Johnson

If there is one thing Scotty Cameron has been good at -- in addition to designing putters tour players and everyday golfers alike drool over -- it's his ability to create mystique. Not a small part of that has been the exclusivity of his putting studio in San Marcos, Calif., which has been off limits to all except tour pros, leaving everyday players wanting the Cameron fitting experience with their noses pressed up against the glass.

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That now changes with the official opening of the Scotty Cameron Gallery, a putter-fitting facility in Encinitas, Calif., that is open to the public combined with a retail store and high-end product gallery.

"This is something I have wanted to do for some time," Cameron told Golf World. "But since the studio is also our R&D area, that wasn't doable. But I wanted to fit putters for the public. It's so enlightening and eye-opening to do that. And there's definitely demand."

Related: Golf Digest Hot List Putters

That there is. The Gallery is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers two fittings a day (a fitting takes two hours and costs $350). Before the doors even opened, more than 300 fittings had been scheduled. Cameron plans to expand to three fittings a day and to open seven days a week in the coming months.

Those coming in for a fitting can expect the same experience Cameron offers in his studio. "We have the same cameras, flooring and force plates so it mimics exactly what we do for the tour pros," Cameron says. "But we also felt people who came to get fit want to be able to leave with something too. So it's a fitting experience, but we also have a full workshop where we can put in the proper weights and the length and the grip size with all the colors. So you cannot only get fit, but actually walk away with a custom-fitted putter. It's the whole experience."

The "experience" is critical to Cameron, who has combined his love of retail with his passion for creating putters. The Gallery is not only a fitting studio, but also a boutique shop, one where classic Beatles and Eagles music plays and everything in the shop -- including display cases (some weighing as much as 1,000 pounds), shelving, doors, doorknobs, etc. -- was created by Cameron's team.

On the product side, visitors can ogle (and purchase) anything from Cameron headcovers, grips and T-shirts to more elegant items such as sportcoats, ties and alligator shoes. For putters, Cameron has created some with his own stamping and paintfills that he refers to as MOTO -- made only to order. In essence, these are stock putters with custom touches. Also for sale will be putters returned from the various tours around the world, each with its own certificate of authenticity as to which tour it came from. And for those wondering what a surfboard is doing there, it's a one-of-a-kind creation from surfing legend Rob Machado -- fitting for the beach-town setting.

Related: My Shot: Scotty Cameron

If this seems out of the ordinary for a puttermaker, it's not -- at least not for Cameron, whose aficionados have an infatuation with the man and his creations unlike anything in golf. People pay north of $1,000 for one of his . . . headcovers. Ball markers often fetch more than $100 at online auctions. Original putters often bring in tens of thousands of dollars.

Cameron's passion for retail shows when he speaks of the Gallery. "I've always liked the East Coast way of retail, where there are manners and people are dressed sharply," he says. "I hired a retail expert to come in and train my staff on proper etiquette. So it's not like a surf shop where they have flip-flops and swim trunks. This is much more proper. It's unique because it doesn't feel like golf. It's more elegant."

It's also a place Cameron plans to spend a fair amount of time. Asked how often he plans to darken the doors of the Gallery, Cameron quickly replied, "Every day. This is my personal shop, and I want to watch the personal buying habits to see what people love and are drawn to and what they don't like and what they are asking for. This isn't just a business venture. It's personal."

And now it's public as well.


TOUR STORIES

jeff-sluman-golf-equipment.jpgJEFF SLUMAN // A bad break

After a tee shot on the seventh hole at Oak Tree National Saturday at the U.S. Senior Open, Jeff Sluman and his playing companion, Doug Garwood, knew something wasn't right. "[It had a] way different sound, little different feel," said Sluman. The reason was the head on Sluman's TaylorMade R11S had cracked, a situation Sluman took in stride. "You know, all drivers eventually will crack," he said. "Unfortunately, mine cracked right there, and it was a big gash. So it was unusable. My backup is in Chicago. Really not doing me much good right now. I guess that's kind of my fault. It was 3-wood the rest of the day."

Although players such as Billy Andrade and Fred Funk attempted to come to Sluman's rescue by offering their backup drivers, they weren't the same model and the adjustable cog wouldn't allow Sluman to put his driver shaft in them. Although Sluman went to a local golf store and found a replacement, he was prepared to go with just his 3-wood in the final round. "I think it's a better 3-wood course than driver course," he said of the layout in Edmond, Okla. "You know, there are a few holes you'd like to have the driver, but it's really not a huge deal."

NEW STUFF

taylormade-tour-preferred-udi-irons.jpgTaylorMade Tour Preferred UDI
PRICE: $199 (Lofts: 16, 18, 20 degrees)

A 455 Carpenter Steel face and a slot in the sole boost ball speed in this driving iron-type club. Justin Rose had one in the bag for both of his recent wins.

TaylorMadeGolf.com


BAG ROOM

Colin Montgomerie changed putters after 36 holes of the U.S. Senior Open, using an Odyssey Versa 90 #7 for the weekend. The counterbalanced putter had a standard SuperStroke grip. . . . Rory McIlroy unveiled an addition to his bag via social media, posting a photo on Instagram prior to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open of a Nike prototype iron stamped "MMPROTO" with the comment, "A little something new this week." McIlroy was expected to use the club at the British Open. . . . Inbee Park had a one-of-a-kind Ping putter in the bag at the Ricoh Women's British Open. The putter was a Serene Craz-E Too model that borrowed technological attributes from other Ping putters. The 33-inch club had a face insert used in the company's Scottsdale line, and its alignment plate was from the Scottsdale TR line.


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Gear & Equipment

Scotty Cameron's new California gallery just opened and more than 300 putter-fittings have already been booked

By E. Michael Johnson

Scotty Cameron aficionados have an infatuation with the man and his creations unlike anything else in golf. People will pay north of $1,000 for one of his … wait for it … headcovers. Ball markers can fetch more than $100 at online auctions. Original putters bring in tens of thousands of dollars. But the one thing Cameron-ites couldn't buy was a fitting from Team Cameron.

Until now.

With the official opening of the Scotty Cameron Gallery, a putter-fitting facility in Encinitas, Calif., the public can now enjoy the same kind of fitting treatment Cameron has offered tour pros combined with a retail store and high-end product gallery.

loop-scotty-cameron-gallery-518.jpg

"This is something I have wanted to do for some time," Cameron told GolfDigest.com. "But since the Studio is also our R&D area, that wasn't doable. But I wanted to fit putters for the public. It's so enlightening and eye-opening to do that. And there's definitely demand."

That there is. The Gallery is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers two fittings a day from Cameron's staff (each fitting is two hours long at a cost of $350). Before the doors even opened more than 300 fittings had been booked. Cameron plans to expand to three fittings a day and be open seven days a week in the coming months.

"It's a fitting experience, but we also have a full workshop where we can put in the proper weights and the length and the grip size with all the colors," Cameron says. "So you can not only get fit, but walk away with a custom-fitted putter. It's the whole experience."

The "experience" is critical to Cameron, who has combined his love of retail with his passion for creating putters. The Gallery is a boutique shop as well where visitors can ogle (and purchase) anything from Cameron headcovers, grips and T-shirts to more elegant items such as sports coats, ties and alligator shoes.

For putters, Cameron has created some with his own stamping and paintfills that he refers to as MOTO—made only to order -- in essence a stock putter that has custom touches. Also for sale will be putters returned from the various tours around the world, each with their own certificate of authenticity as to what tour it came from.

It's also a place Cameron himself plans to spend a fair amount of time. Asked how often he plans to darken the doors of the Gallery Cameron quickly replied, "Every day. This is my personal shop, and I want to watch the personal buying habits to see what people love and are drawn to and what they don't like and what they are asking for. This isn't just a business venture. It's personal."

  And now, it's public as well.

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Gear & Equipment

Think being fitted for your putter isn't a big deal? Ask Michelle Wie how it worked out

By E. Michael Johnson

Although Michelle Wie is one of the best ball-strikers on the LPGA Tour, a case could be made that she won the U.S. Women's Open on the greens. The tabletop putting stroke Wie employs might be hard to look at, but it allowed her to go all 72 holes at Pinehurst No. 2 without a three-putt -- no small accomplishment on Donald Ross' turtleback greens.

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Photo: Michael Cohen/Getty Images

Wie might also want to hand an assist to coach David Leadbetter. Three weeks ago Leadbetter suggested that his pupil flatten the lie angle on her Nike Method 006 putter to get her hands in a better position. Joking that "it usually takes about a month for me to listen to him," Wie had the adjustment made just prior to the Open.

"I flattened the lie angle 4.5 degrees," Wie said. "The Nike guys were here this week, and since I had a backup with me, it was a good time to make the change. I really wasn't planning to put it in play, but it felt so good I put it in the bag."

Related: Wie defies critics, wins Open her way

Getting the proper lie angle on one's putter might be one of the most underutilized routes to better golf. For starters, few players actually get fit for their putters, opting instead to simply grab one from the putter corral, stroke a few putts and then, like a smitten teen on a first date, fall in love immediately. Tour pros, however, realize its importance to success on the greens.

Often a lie-angle change is needed when the stroke changes. When Chris DiMarco first went to a claw-style putting stroke in 1995, he had little trouble adapting his putter to his stroke. As the years went on, however, DiMarco found the toe of his putter rising off the ground. "I just wanted to get where my left hand was comfortable on the club," he said. "I wanted it so the toe of the putter wasn't off the ground and the heel wasn't off the ground." The final solution: The same Ping Anser F putter he had been using, but with the club bent four degrees upright.

DiMarco's solution wouldn't surprise putting guru Dave Pelz. A proponent of making sure players have the correct lie angle on their putters, Pelz theorizes that many golfers set up too far from the ball, the main culprit being a putter with too flat a lie angle. In fact, according to Pelz, it is four times more likely to find a player with a lie angle that is too flat than too upright.

"A lie angle that is too flat will cause a player to reach for the ball and his hands will move out from under the shoulders," Pelz told Golf World in 2010. "That leaves the putter swinging around the body instead of along the proper path. It also places the eyes inside the target line, which can result in the player aiming right of the target." Left unsaid was that a too-upright putter leaves the eyes outside the line, with a tendency to aim left of the target.

Related: My Shot: Michelle Wie

Pelz's comments came shortly after working with Phil Mickelson and changing the lie angle on Lefty's Odyssey putter, making it one degree flatter. Keeping the face angle on path was the main reason for Mickelson's change. "Face angle means a lot more than stroke, and my face angle wasn't lined up," said Mickelson. "It was lined up at address, but it wasn't staying square throughout the putt, and it was noticeable when I started working with Pelz. . . . I spent two weeks working on it and trying to get it dialed in."

What are the telltale signs that your lie angle may be off? A good rule of thumb is that if you're in a comfortable setup position, but find the heel or toe of the putter dragging on the green before impact, then you may need to adjust the lie angle.

Of course, a player doesn't always have to adjust the lie angle to get the effect of doing so. Anytime a player changes the length of his putter, he is effectively altering lie angle as well. It is one of the reasons why some tour pros will change putter lengths after making an alteration to their stroke.

And any adjustment that helps make more putts is one worth considering.

TOUR STORIES

brendan-steele-equipment-0630.jpgBRENDAN STEELE // Anchor's away

After shooting 74 during the first 18 holes in sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, Brendan Steele had had enough of the anchored stroke. Particularly struggling with his distances on lag putts, Steele -- who won the 2011 Valero Texas Open while anchoring -- switched to a conventional-length putter and a non-anchored stroke for the afternoon round. Steele didn't qualify for Pinehurst, but the second 18 served a purpose. "I made the change because I had nothing to lose," he said. "It was a good time to do it."

Steele putted well enough that he continued with it at the Travelers Championship, where he finished T-5 while ranking 13th in strokes gained/putting, including an opening-round 62. Steele used a Scotty Cameron by Titleist Futura X and employed Boccieri Golf's Secret Grip, which provides a counterbalancing effect. The grip Steele used was the midsize model, weighing 155 grams. The result? "Speed control is a lot better," said Steele.

NEW STUFF

nike-rzn-black-golf-ball.jpgNike RZN Black
PRICE: $46/doz.

The company's RZN line features a core with a waffle-pattern to better interlock with the mantle layer. The Black version spins less than the Platinum. Michelle Wie used the Black model at the U.S. Women's Open.

NikeGolf.com


BAG ROOM

For former U.S. Amateur champion Ryan Moore, finding the right driver has been problematic. One of the reasons is Moore fights a high spin rate. At the Travelers Championship, Moore changed to a TaylorMade SLDR 430 with 10.5 degrees loft, but used the adjustable hosel to bring the loft down to 9 degrees. The move appeared to work. Moore finished T-5 while averaging 292.9 yards off the tee and hitting 80.4 percent of his fairways, ranking T-4 for the week. . . . Lexi Thompson took out her 18-degree Cobra Baffler T-Rail 2-hybrid and added a Cobra S2 Forged 3-iron at the U.S. Women's Open. Thompson added the club to give her another option off the tee at Pinehurst No. 2.


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Gear & Equipment

Designer David Whitlam 'weights' it out with re-released Gauge Design putters

By Mike Stachura

loop-gauge-putter-290.jpgOften in golf, it can take a long time for an interesting idea to take hold. That's why David Whitlam, designer/founder of Gauge Design and Whitlam Golf, believes a soleplate he first patented in 2002 makes some traditional heel-toe weighted putters even better.

The SPI-1 models ($350), which include the Devon (right) and Joseph, use a 6061 aluminum soleplate insert. The lighter aluminum saves weight compared to the milled 303 stainless steel used in the rest of the putter, so more mass can be redistributed to the heel and toe.

The SPI-1 is one of three recent designs from Whitlam. Also new is the Code M ($350), a face-balanced mallet milled from 11L17 carbon steel, and the reintroduction of the Little Dog mallet ($350), a toe-hang milled mallet that has a crescent-shape cut-out in the back flange.

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Gear & Equipment

Center-shafted putters, popular after Payne Stewart's Pinehurst victory, are niche items

By E. Michael Johnson

Anyone who watched it likely hasn't forgotten Payne Stewart's 20-footer on the 72nd hole of the 1999 U.S. Open to pip Phil Mickelson. And for those who haven't seen it, the statue of Stewart at Pinehurst serves as a reminder. What often gets lost, however, is that Stewart made the clincher using a SeeMore FGP putter -- a center-shafted model.

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Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Center-shafted putters have had somewhat of a roller-coaster existence in the 15 years since. Although not a new invention at the time of Stewart's Open heroics, the victory created interest.

In 2002, Scotty Cameron told Golf World that he saw an increase in the number of requests for center-shafted putters. To accommodate the variety of inquiries, Cameron experimented with a number of designs, employing different metals and configurations.

Cameron tried stainless steel, carbon steel and various inserts to understand the effects of the materials on feel when the shaft was placed near the center of the head. Cameron also experimented with the placement and positioning of the shaft in addition to constructing several center-shafted models that were offset and face-balanced -- all in an effort to please his ever-growing stable of players.

Related: 2014 Hot List putters

"Sometimes I feel like a bartender, listening to their problems," Cameron said at the time. But just as a good barkeep is a good listener, so is a solid club designer. "You need to know what they're looking for," he said. "But that's not always easy. Sometimes you have to listen to what they're saying between the lines before you get to what they're really looking for."

The popularity of center-shafted putters dates back to the turn of the 20th century when Walter Travis' trusty ally on the greens was a center-shafted putter called Schenectady. The putter, named after Schenectady, N.Y., the hometown of its inventor, Arthur Franklin Knight, was not the first center-shafted putter, but it may have been the most famous. Travis (known by his contemporaries as "The Old Man") didn't take up golf until he was 35, yet he captured three U.S. Amateur titles and a British Amateur by the time he turned 43. And he did so on the strength of his wizardry on the greens. Unfortunately for Travis, his win in the 1904 British Amateur led the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews to take a closer look at his odd-looking putter. Although it was not implemented until 1910, the governing body decided on a rule that outlawed center-shafted clubs -- a ban that would last until 1951.

Such a ban would hardly be needed today as few players now go the center-shaft route. Although the PGA Tour is not devoid of center-shaft putters, the number rarely reaches 10 percent on any given week. Some of it is look. "The shaft sits right on the ball and most players like to see the ball by itself and not have the shaft lean on it," said Matt Rollins, PGA Tour rep for Ping, who noted that the company's only player who used one -- Miguel Angel Jimenez -- switched at the U.S. Open to a non center-shafted putter.

Hand position also plays a role in the low numbers. "Center-shafted putters suit players who like their hands level with the ball at address," said Seamus Sweeney, Odyssey's European Tour rep. "This is one reason for low usage, as many guys prefer to 'hang' their hands forward, even if slightly. Do this with a center-shaft in your hands and very quickly the face angle and loft changes. Most players don't want that."

Related: Zach Johnson makes a hole-in-one, high fives the gallery

Then there's the lemming factor. While Stewart's win in 1999 spurred interest, currently only Zach Johnson (who uses a SeeMore FGP very similar to Stewart's) is among the top 30 on the World Ranking using a conventional-length center-shafted model. No. 1 Adam Scott has a center-shafted Scotty Cameron by Titleist Futura X Long putter.

What kind of putting stroke might benefit from a center-shafted model? For starters, any player who positions his eyes directly over the ball. In that scenario the player is likely setting up to take the putter straight back and straight through the ball, never deviating from the target line. A center-shafted putter is ideal for this type of stroke because the clubhead is balanced to swing like a pendulum.

Although center-shaft usage is dwindling, Sweeney feels there will always be a place for such putters. "They offer a totally different option to any other; a simple, clean option at address," he said. "Players have commented how it is appealing when they are able to see the entire face at address."

Or in Stewart's case 15 years ago, when the ball goes in the hole.

NEW STUFF

taylormade-tour-preferred-mc.jpgTaylorMade Tour Preferred MC
PRICE: $1,000 (Lofts: 52, 54, 56, 58, 60 degrees)

Martin Kaymer used these irons, which feature a shallow, muscle-cavity design to boost the moment of inertia for better stability. The slot in the sole of the 3- through 7-irons increases ball speed.

TaylorMadeGolf.com


BAG ROOM

Martin Kaymer had two 3-irons in his bag, but there was no redundancy. Instead the Open champ had a TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC (the model of the rest of his irons) 3-iron bent to a 2-iron loft. The club came in handy for Kaymer who used it to tee off on several holes during the week. ... Brandt Snedeker has ranked in the top 10 in strokes gained/putting in four of the last five years, including fourth last year and first in 2012. But Sneds was 56th this season coming into the U.S. Open, prompting him to change putters. Snedeker used his Odyssey Rossie for nearly a decade, but at the Open he used a Bridgestone True Balance TD-02, a mallet similar in head shape to the Rossie but with grooves on the face. Snedeker said one reason for the switch is he has been "fanning" his putts, and the club's weighting (a hefty E4 swingweight) helped eliminate that. ... After experimenting with a counterbalanced putter at the Memorial, Keegan Bradley felt he needed to go back to anchoring at Pinehurst. "I just felt like from off the green I was a little more comfortable with it," said Bradley, who used an Odyssey White Hot XG Sabertooth at the U.S. Open. ... Casual fans have always been able to figure out who's who by the names embroidered on their staff bags, but that wasn't the case at the Open for TaylorMade's staff, who celebrated Father's Day weekend by carrying staff bags with the names of either their dad, their kids or another person whom they wished to salute. Sergio Garcia's bag read "Victor Garcia" for his dad, Jason Day's had "Dash Day" for his son, and Scott Langley got a jump on parenthood by having "Kennedy Caroline Langley" (his soon-to-be-born daughter) on his bag.


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Gear & Equipment

Adjustable weights give Rife's Switchback putter added, well, heft

By Mike Stachura

From the beginning in 2005, most of the attention involving Rife putters focused on their faces, which feature parallel grooves designed to improve initial roll. But the company's new Switchback is attracting interest for what's going on behind the scenes, so to speak.

The classic heel-toe-weighted shape embraces the modern trend of adjustability by allowing golfers to change the weight of the head between 350 and 380 grams.

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Unlike other adjustable-weight putters that use weight ports in the sole, the Switchback ($200) turns the rear heel and toe sections into interchangeable weights. It comes with five-gram and 20-gram weights, and 10-gram and 15-gram weights can be purchased additionally.

The weights can be changed to adapt to different green speeds, and different weights can be combined to change the amount of toe hang to better match a player's stroke.

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Gear & Equipment

The reality of the anchoring ban is likely part of Keegan Bradley's Memorial trial

By E. Michael Johnson

After the USGA and R&A announced in 2012 their intent to ban anchored strokes on Jan. 1, 2016 (a move that would later be adopted), Keegan Bradley -- who is the first player to win one of the four men's majors using an anchored stroke -- became a bit of a target. At the 2013 Honda Classic, Bradley spoke about the difficulties of being the poster child for anchoring.

keegan-bradley-golf-equipment-0609.jpg
Photo: Chris Condon/PGA TOUR

"It's been actually pretty difficult, especially lately," Bradley said. "I'm being called a cheater more than ever by fans, by some writers. It's really tough. I can't imagine how people can say that to me, or to anybody out here. It's been really difficult, and I'm sick of it, to be honest. I'm ready to be over it."

Now, more than a year later, Bradley, at the suggestion of his mother, has taken the first steps to "be over it," changing to a counterbalanced Odyssey XG Sabertooth putter at the Memorial.

Although Bradley has fiddled with shorter putters, he said he "hadn't put any thought into it up until that point" and was receptive to the idea after putting poorly at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Bradley used the shorter putter during his off week, playing 36 holes a day with Michael Jordan at The Bear's Club in Jupiter, Fla. "I told him I really wanted him to chirp at me, make me uncomfortable, which he's good at," said Bradley. "We just kept playing and playing. And I felt better and better with it. I came here not knowing what I was going to do, and I just played a round with Brendan Steele and I felt good with it again, and I thought there's no reason for me not to do it. … I'm totally in a trial period here. I'm not in any way saying I'm switching for good from now on. This is just for right now and this week."

Related: What Keegan Bradley's first week with a non-anchored putter looked like

Perhaps so. Still, to see Bradley without the 46.75-inch, 762-gram Odyssey XG Sabertooth with the double-bend ski-pole shaft that he used to win the 2011 PGA Championship was somewhat startling. In its place was a putter with the same head style, but with a 41-inch shaft and a 21-inch Winn Flat Top Mid grip with a 40-gram counterbalance weight. The putter has 2.5 degrees loft and a total weight of 675 grams.

Bradley is the latest to jump on the counterbalance bandwagon, which appears to be more of a trend than a fad, especially for those seeking an alternative to anchoring. Colin Montgomerie, who used an anchored stroke for several years, recently won the Senior PGA Championship using a counterbalanced Odyssey Tank Cruiser #7 model.

All of which has been part of a move away from anchored strokes. In mid-2013, TaylorMade provided research through the first 21 events of the season that showed an average of 13.6 long or belly putters in play per event. Of those, about 11 were anchored. (Players such as Matt Kuchar and Martin Laird used the clubs without anchoring.) It was, according to the study, about half the number anchoring at the same time a year earlier.

At the Memorial nine players used anchored strokes while seven others chose counterbalanced putters. Among those still clinging to the anchored stroke were Adam Scott (who is showing no signs of giving up on it, as he recently tested some long Scotty Cameron by Titleist Futura X7 prototypes), Tim Clark, Kevin Stadler and Carl Pettersson.

Pettersson -- a five-time winner on the PGA Tour using a long putter that he anchored to his chest -- was the first anchorer of significance to change to a non-anchored stroke in competition. Pettersson used a 37-inch Rife Aruba putter with a split claw grip during the final round of the 2013 John Deere Classic, then continued using it at Muirfield for the British Open but went back to the long putter shortly after. There have been cases of others, however, who have had success after ditching the anchored stroke. Stewart Cink, for example, used a belly putter for several years but won the 2009 British Open at Turnberry with a conventional-length putter.

Related: The scoop on Keegan Bradley's new non-anchored putter

As for Bradley, who has used the belly putter for a little more than five years, the move clearly is influenced by the ticking clock -- the ban's implementation is just 19 months away. Despite some recent struggles on the greens, Bradley's putting the last few years has been solid: He ranked 27th and 49th, respectively, in strokes gained/putting the last two seasons and was 44th this season coming into Memorial.

"I'd say there's pros and cons," said Bradley, who last used a conventional- length putter during his second event on the Nationwide Tour in 2010. "One of the positives is I feel as though I have a lot more touch on the greens. On a course like this or Augusta or any major championship that I play on, I felt like I've needed a little more touch than I've had. And so the positives of this putter are I can hit softer putts. My long lag putts are a ton easier. And the negatives are just simply mentally I'm aware that people are watching me. That's the hardest part."

Fair enough. But although Bradley finished T-37 at Memorial, ranking 55th in strokes gained/putting, his initial round, where he shot 67 and was an impressive +2.662, offered an indication of what's possible. Should he put four good rounds together using a non-anchored stroke -- say, at the U.S. Open -- then people will definitely be watching him, but for all the right reasons.

NEW STUFF

callaway-mack-daddy-2.jpgCallaway Mack Daddy 2 Tour
PRICE: $130 (Lofts: 52, 54, 56, 58, 60 degrees)

This addition to the Mack Daddy 2 line incorporates the technology of the original with a shallow tour grind and straighter leading edge.

CallawayGolf.com


BAG ROOM

D.A. Points has been using Ping's i5 irons since they first came out in 2005, meaning any change would be considered a major shift. Sure enough, Points did just that at the Memorial. Points used TaylorMade's SLDR irons, which have slots in the 3- through 7-irons designed to boost ball speed. Points made the move after testing the irons at his home course where he saw better consistency with his launch angle and spin rate. . . . On practice greens at PGA Tour events the Axis 1 putters -- with their unique shape in which the heel and hosel are set well in front of the face -- are mostly viewed as a novelty by players taking a look at them. At Memorial, however, Erik Compton put one of the company's putters in play. Unfortunately for Compton, the stick didn't produce the necessary results to make the cut at Muirfield Village GC.


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Gear & Equipment

Odyssey packs plenty of technology into its Metal-X Milled Versa putter

By Mike Stachura

Odyssey has been a market leader in putter technology for the better part of two decades, so it's difficult to find something it hasn't done. But its recent introduction might be its most technically ambitious.

The Metal-X Milled Versa ($350) combines many of the company's highest-end technologies found in the Metal-X and Versa lines. Offered in three styles (#7, #1, #9HT, shown below), the clubhead is milled from a solid block of 1020 carbon steel and features a silver-black contrast, as well as an all-black shaft, to aid with alignment.

loop-metal-x-milled-combo-518.jpg

The clubface has a textured pattern of oval depressions milled into it. The friction it creates at impact is meant to produce a better roll.

Completing the package are adjustable sole weights (10, 15 and 20 grams), which allow the player to vary the overall head weight between 340 and 360 grams.

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Gear & Equipment

Study finds consumers are more aware of the tech behind counterbalanced putters

By Mike Stachura

loop-counterbalanced-lydia-ko-2-518.jpgIt's not clear how popular counterbalanced putters might become, but the latest research from Golf Datatech on golfers' attitudes shows there's certainly more awareness of the technology.

While many major manufacturers began introducing the back-weighted and overall heavier putters a year ago, and several notable tour players have put them into play (Justin Rose won the U.S. Open last year with one, and Jim Furyk and Lydia Ko, pictured, are recent converts), it's not yet a runaway success in the marketplace. Only 12 percent of golfers surveyed say they play back-weighted putters, the same number as last summer.

Still, the percentage of golfers who are very familiar with the concept has increased from 24 last year to 31, and those who say they are interested in buying a counterbalanced putter are up to 63 percent, a 17-percent spike since last summer.

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