STREET PRICE: $140WEBSITE: nikegolf.comTECH STORYEverything on this putter is green -- the clubhead, the shaft and the grip -- except for the white alignment lines (one running the length of the blade, the other as an aiming line extending from the center of the face) that help you set up squarely to the ball. The idea is that because the green color tends to blend with the grass, the alignment aid becomes much more visible.PLAYER COMMENTS"Perhaps the easiest blade I've ever used as far as alignment. This visual is the best. . . . The white pops out of the green, making alignment simple. You stand over the ball expecting to make putts with this one. . . . This is really easy to set squarely and to make a pendulum stroke. The color is great in the bright sun."HOTAn idea this simple can't be this good. But it is. It goes to show that there is such a thing as a new idea in putters that doesn't have to be complicated or expensive.NOTFans of the true Anser-style plumber's neck might not warm to this design.
ODYSSEY BLACK SERIES 1
STREET PRICE: $270WEBSITE: odysseygolf.comTECH STORYThe milled soft 1025 carbon-steel head is fitted with a tungsten flange to move weight back and low for a high moment of inertia and improved roll. A double-layer face insert (a resilient elastomer behind a thin, firm outer layer) provides optimal feel, and the loft fits the putter's center of gravity. The series includes two blade-like models, the #1 (a classic Anser style) and the #9 (the half-mallet look preferred by Phil Mickelson).PLAYER COMMENTS"This is the shiny little birthday present that I'll be hoping for. . . . This putter has great balance. Rolls true. . . . The firm insert gives it a nice, confident feel. . . . It's a solid putter, and the response on the mis-hits is there -- especially on toe hits. . . . The chrome color is sharp without causing glare, and the roll on this putter is otherworldly."HOTThe best-looking Odyssey on the market, but this isn't just another high-end blade. It's got some serious technological horsepower.NOTSome might have to adjust to its soft sound.
ODYSSEY WHITE HOT TOUR
STREET PRICE: $160WEBSITE: odysseygolf.comTECH STORYThe stainless-steel head has been fitted with weight ports that allow designers to customize the head weight to the shaft length. The firm face insert provides a steel-like feel and allows more weight to be moved to the putter's perimeter for a high MOI. Two blade options include #1 (a classic crank-neck, full-shaft offset) and #2 (a short hosel with scooped cavity and half-shaft offset).PLAYER COMMENTS"I love the color and the harder feel. . . . The heavy head allows for a smooth takeaway so you have better distance control on long putts. . . . What a quality putter; the weighting is just right. The bronze color is nice, too. . . . I found it easy to putt through the ball, and the balance felt good. . . . The alignment line is in the perfect placeâ“on the top, rather than on the flange."HOTThis Odyssey looks good, and the insert isn't mushy. The heavier head is expected to be an option on standard lengths, too.NOTThe number of inserts on Odyssey putters (we count at least four) can be confusing.
STREET PRICE: $120WEBSITE: pinggolf.comTECH STORYThe insert-within-an-insert design features a thick, urethane main piece with a thin, soft layer in the center of the face. Whether you prefer the more traditional Anser style or the radical ½ Craz-E, the fitting options are plentiful, and the feel is heavier than other Ping putters.PLAYER COMMENTS"The Anser is the gold standard when it comes to looks. I love the feel of the insert, and it rolls beautifully. The balance of this putter is very good. . . . On the ½ Craz-E, everything just looks so straight. The head is ugly, but who cares when it gives you confidence that the ball is going to roll where you want it to? . . . The 'ping' sound is gone, but the performance isn't. . . . How do you improve on a classic? You do exactly this. The alignment is almost automatic, and the insert is firm, but not in a bad way. The roll is unmatched."HOTA fresh take on insert design. The alignment graphics are an important bonus.NOTWe really like the insert, but it doesn't fill the whole face on every model.
PING KARSTEN SERIES
STREET PRICE: $90WEBSITE: pinggolf.comTECH STORYThis simple version of Ping's classic blade comes with a single-layer elastomer insert in the back cavity to help produce a soft feel. Its perimeter-weighted steel body is designed to be forgiving on off-center hits, and the two-level alignment aid helps improve aim and square the putter at address. At no extra cost, you can choose the lie, loft, length and grip size.PLAYER COMMENTS"This is the best-feeling putter without a face insert. It has the consistency you've come to expect from Ping. . . . It looks and feels good, and I really like the great new grip. . . . When you hit it sweet, you know it, and when you miss it, you know it. That's a true blade. . . . I like this better than the dual-insert version -- it has such true feedback."HOTA Ping putter for only $90, and it takes the extra technology step of having a back- cavity insert. Why can't everyone be this smart and thrifty?NOTAesthetically, it falls somewhere between Bauhaus and IKEA.
TITLEIST CAMERON STUDIO STYLE
STREET PRICE: $270WEBSITE: titleist.comTECH STORYThe putter's face features a machined, German stainless-steel insert over a soft vibration pad. There's also an elastomer cushion in the face of the precision-milled stainless-steel head. The idea is traditional responsiveness and a soft feel. Each shaft length comes with a different head weight to optimize the putter's swingweight, and the sole design (built with negative bounce) helps you set the putter squarely at address.PLAYER COMMENTS"It has a crisp feel that's neither too mushy nor too firm. It's easy to align. . . . You can hit it anywhere on the face, and the ball still rolls true. . . . I love the soft-metal insert. The ball really rolls where you aim. . . . The putter sets up nicely and has a simple, classic look and feel. It's especially good on breaking putts and ones that you need to finesse. . . . You get a non-insert feel and sound from an insert putter. The feedback is fantastic."HOTA work of art and engineering that putts as smartly as it's made.NOTOn sunny days, the top line has glare issues.
NIKE IC 20-20
STREET PRICE: $140WEBSITE: nikegolf.comTECH STORYThe green grip, shaft and clubhead are designed to optically melt into the background of the putting surface and emphasize the white alignment aid on the top of the putterhead. The square wire-frame shape creates a high moment of inertia, stabilizing the putter on off-center hits.PLAYER COMMENTS"This fits my eye. It reminds me of the Sumo2 square driver. . . . Has a great sound that makes it easier to judge distance, and the ease of alignment is excellent. It's a really good putter. . . . This is the easiest thing I've ever lined up. I was making putts from everywhere. . . . It lines itself up and stands up on its own. It's like there's nothing left for me to do but circle the birdie on the card."HOTThis is a big putter, but because of its color scheme, you focus only on the face and the alignment marking. In short, it plays small in the stroke, but it plays big in stability and forgiveness. That's a good combo.NotBegs for a center-shafted version.
STREET PRICE: $170WEBSITE: odysseygolf.comTECH STORYThe putter with the highest MOI in the Odyssey line features round "fangs" that place 37 percent of the putter's weight in the outermost perimeter, far from the clubhead's center of gravity. This design is intended to create as much resistance to twisting as possible at impact. The aiming lines assist with setup, and the White Hot XG insert has a soft elastomer base for soft feel, plus a thin, textured outer layer for additional feedback.PLAYER COMMENTS"What a surprise. I picked it up and thought it would be a gimmick, but it has a great roll. . . . The weighting is very stable. It feels like it just wants to rock forward. . . . My confidence on short putts soars with this club. . . . Forget the 2-Ball -- this is the new leader for Odyssey."HOTHigh marks for this bold step away from the tired 2-Ball design. It keeps the circular theme and incorporates straight lines for players who prefer them. And it's the niftiest ball-picker-upper in stores today.NOTLike with all Odysseys, we need more lengths.
PING KARSTEN SERIES CRAZ-E
STREET PRICE: $120WEBSITE: pinggolf.comTECH STORYThe elastomer cavity insert in the investment-cast 17-4 stainless-steel head redistributes weight for a high MOI. This design is intended to reduce vibration and create the feel of a steel face. The blue-accented alignment aids stand out against the gray steel, and the myriad lie, loft and length options make this putter easy to customize.PLAYER COMMENTS"I like the silver color scheme, and it rolls and feels good. . . . It's nice and heavy: You can just let the putter do its job. . . . The alignment is great, and it has a wonderful 'click' at impact. For balance and stability, this club is unmatched. . . . It's easy to align. I can't miss the short putts with it."HOTIt's the best-feeling putter in the Ping line and the most affordable. The Craz-E head design offers something for everyone in the alignment department, whether you prefer straight lines or rounded shapes.NOTSome will lament the loss of the face insert that was popular on the original.
STREET PRICE: $180WEBSITE: taylormadegolf.comTECH STORYA reverse-trapezoid shape places weight toward the back and into the corners behind the small putterface for a high MOI. Movable weights in the rear help you customize the putter's feel to your preferences, and polymer-filled grooves in the face are designed to optimize roll.PLAYER COMMENTS"It looks so strange at first, but it lines up really well and rolls putts beautifully. . . . There's no room for error with a face this small, and that's actually a good thing. . . . The body looks like the crown of a king, and that's appropriate -- because this one's a king. . . . The ball comes off the face great. The single line on top is helpful and doesn't distract."HOTTalk about the little engine that could: This is the perfect design for those who can't stomach the big-mallet look but want the stability of high MOI. Custom lengths are available from 32 to 37 inches, and the black finish reduces glare.NotOpen space behind face can be distracting.
MIZUNO BLACK CARBON SERIES
STREET PRICE: $250WEBSITE: mizunousa.comTECH STORYTo help achieve a soft-insert feel in a non-insert putter, designer Bob Bettinardi uses a milled face with a punch pattern on the carbon-steel head. The pattern is designed to reduce the contact area on the face while maintaining its precision-milled characteristics because of its one-piece construction. The Black Carbon Series includes two blade-like models with a glare-reducing black-chrome finish.PLAYER COMMENTS"Has a nice, standard look at address and a good, heavy weight in your hands. The face feels almost like a composite material at impact. . . . The carbon face is a little softer than others, but in a pleasant way. It's not mushy at all. . . . This is a contender. It fits your eye behind the ball, it's easy to line up, and it has good weighting throughout the stroke."HOTBettinardi's technique is a new approach to the complicated subject of feel. The dark look is classy and effective.NOTWe find it strange that there's no Anser-like heel-toe version.
NEVER COMPROMISE GM2 EXCHANGE
STREET PRICE: $230WEBSITE: nevercompromise.comTECH STORYThe company's signature black-on-gray color blocks (milled 304 stainless steel) are designed to help you line up the putter squarely. The removable sole plate reveals a weight system that you can customize: The putter comes with six weights that can be arranged in the sole of the club to accomplish different head weights (from 330 to 360 grams) depending on your preference. This includes changing the amount of weight in the heel and toe.PLAYER COMMENTS"Put this down as my favorite, right there. It just feels right. . . . The two-tone color really helps you line it up better than most. And it has a nice, tactile feel that induces a good roll. . . . She's pretty, and she's the girl you keep. . . . I really like how it sounds off the clubface, and the roll was one of the best."HOTThe adjustable-weight system is like having a host of putters in one head. Marrying it with such a good feeling face is a bonus.NOTLeave home without the wrench and kit and you're, um, screwed.
STREET PRICE: $325WEBSITE: seemore.comTECH STORYThis milled update of the original SeeMore putter has "rifle-scope technology" that helps players use their eyes to set up in the correct position over the ball. The alignment system is designed to help you execute a proper pendulum stroke by hiding the red dot behind the shaft at address and throughout the stroke.PLAYER COMMENTS"The larger grip eliminates wristy, inconsistent strokes, and the alignment aid helps you make the right stroke. . . . My unusual putting stance likes this putter. I prefer the center-shaft design and the way the ball feels coming off the clubface. It's easy to judge distance on long and short putts. . . . The SeeMore technology is borderline brilliant. The center shaft promotes a smooth back-and-through motion. Great sound and great roll."HOTForget the clunky looks and embrace the philosophy. Putts will always go where you're aimed. The half-inch shaft lengths are genius.NOTMake sure you remember to focus on the putt and not on the dot.
WHITLAM SIGNATURE SERIES
STREET PRICE: $325WEBSITE: whitlamgolf.comTECH STORYEvery putter in the line is computer-milled exclusively by designer David Whitlam, which means there is a limited number of them. This Anser-like design features just 100 in the series, and each is milled from a solid billet of 303 stainless steel. Every putter goes through a 15-step finishing process and features a six-way angled sole to help with setup as well as a unique three-dimensional parallel-hosel design.PLAYER COMMENTS"A nice, solid, no-frills putter. Has great balance. . . . A classic look with such a good finish. The roll is probably as good as any. . . . I love the grip, and it's solid even on mis-hits -- especially on the heel. . . . If there's something out there that rolls better than this, you need to show it to me. One word describes this putter: pure. . . . I've never heard of this guy, but I'm pretty sure I'd like him."HOTEverybody has a boutique putter these days, but none is more precisely conceived and executed than Whitlam's.NOTOf course, you'll pay for the privilege.
STREET PRICE: $250WEBSITE: yesgolf.comTECH STORYThis computer-milled-carbon-steel version of the popular C-Groove putter looks prettier, feels smoother and rolls better than the less-expensive models from the company. However, the putter comes with the same face-groove technology, which is designed to improve roll. The head features an extended slant-neck hosel with a single sightline positioned in the cavity.PLAYER COMMENTS"This putter has just the right weight, balance and size, and the sound and feel are perfect, too. . . . What a superior look. It's one of my favorite blades. The weighting and balance are ideal. . . . There's nothing flashy that gets in the way, unlike some others. . . . This has the most touch of any putter I've hit."HOTOur favorite in the Yes! family. The use of milled semicircular grooves results in a unique feel, and the face pattern might actually help you focus at address. An elegant design, but more important, it's effective.NOTLess loft than most, so if you putt on mildly shaggy greens, that will be a problem.
ZEN RDE PREMIUM TOUR
STREET PRICE: $275WEBSITE: zenoracle.co.ukTECH STORYRDE stands for "reduced dimple error." It refers to the hairline ridges in the face that are designed to minimize the amount of contact area. This helps reduce the possibility of the putter catching the edge of a dimple, which might send the ball rolling off-line. The standard line includes four styles. The Premium Tour line (ZPC3, above) includes customization of head, finish and hosel for more than 60 variations.PLAYER COMMENTS"It's very pretty, and I like the gooseneck shaft. . . . The face-balanced feel is really nice and promotes a pendulum stroke. . . . Unbelievable. It was like it was just leading me to the hole. . . . The finish makes the sightlines pop, and that helps with the alignment. . . . You feel the transfer of the ball's energy right up the shaft."HotNot just a putter company but a way of putting, Zen should be on the emergency contact list of every frustrated putter. The classic look of these models is first-rate in every way.NOT$275 is a lot, even for a moment of Zen.
STREET PRICE: $130WEBSITE: clevelandgolf.comTECH STORYA dual-axis alignment system alerts players to a faulty setup: If you see the three white rings inside the clubhead's middle bar, your eyes are set too far outside or inside the ball. If the circles are invisible, your eyes are directly over the ball. The elastomer insert is for soft feel, and the black finish reduces glare.PLAYER COMMENTS"It looks like the ace of spades, and I can make money with that. . . . This alignment feature really works, and the feel is the same as what I'm used to from a blade. . . . It's a killer on short putts. . . . The sound and feel are solid, and the ball rolls really well. . . . This one is a great choice for beginners because it makes you set up square."HOTThe alignment system might take most of the glory, but this solid putter also comes packed with plenty of forgiveness on off-center putts thanks to its elongated head shape and the resulting high MOI. Its three standard-lie options add to the appeal.NOTWe would like to see the insert stretch a little farther across the face.
GUERIN RIFE TWO BAR HYBRID
STREET PRICE: $200WEBSITE: rifeputters.comTECH STORYWhere do we begin? A tinkerer's dream, this putter features two adjustable back-weighted bars for easy alignment and a high MOI. Its face grooves are tightly spaced to "grip and lift" the ball and get it rolling forward immediately. The face insert's high-durometer polymer provides a responsive feel that's meant to improve distance control.PLAYER COMMENTS"The two bars look James Bond-ish, but the putter is easy to line up. The ball comes off the face nicely, and it has a very pleasant sound and feel. . . . The face seems to bite the ball as you putt, which feels surprisingly good. . . . It has a loud, solid feel that I like -- not wimpy and dead like some others."HOTThe adjustable features are awesome, and they allow you to switch the removable back weights in the two bars to accommodate the speed of the greens you're playing. You can also adjust the putter's lie angle up to 5 degrees in either direction.NOTHow can a putter with so many customized options come in only two lengths?
ODYSSEY BLACK SERIES #7
STREET PRICE: $270WEBSITE: odysseygolf.comTECH STORYA precision-milled soft 1025 carbon-steel head with a nickel-plated finish has been fitted with tungsten "fangs" to move the putter's CG low and as far back as possible for a high MOI and better roll. The multi-tiered face insert, featuring a soft and resilient base under a firm outer layer, creates a traditional yet muted feel. Each putter loft has been calibrated with a different CG to produce optimal roll. Headweights are controlled to match specific shaft lengths.PLAYER COMMENTS"The weight is nice, and it seems very forgiving. The roll is perfect. . . . It looks like an oversize divot tool, but it's a good putter. You don't have to fool with anything to make putts. . . . It's very solid on long and short putts. I love the weighting."HOTBecause of its heavy weight and insert feel, this is the ideal putter for traditionalists who want to take baby steps into high-MOI putter performance. The ball-framing fangs are no mere afterthought.NotIt's not available in a left-handed version.
ODYSSEY WHITE HOT XG MARXMAN / MINI
STREET PRICE: $170WEBSITE: odysseygolf.comTECH STORYThe Marxman's white 3-D alignment strips create a two-lane image to help you set up squarely at address. Its back weighting produces a low, deep CG for better roll and, along with the half-moon ring, raises the MOI for better stability. The multilayer White Hot XG insert helps provide a soft and responsive feel because of the cross-hatching design on the face.PLAYER COMMENTS"These putters line up easily -- the two-way highway really works for me. This insert feels great at impact. . . . They look sweet when you set them down, and they have wonderful balance. . . . I love the sound of the insert, and it feels like you're putting with a balata ball. There's virtually no sound if you really pure it."HOTThe Marxman and its little brother, Mini, are solid mallets that incorporate a nice weight-stretching frame and the best insert in golf.NOTIn two of the three versions, it's not available in a left-handed model. Instead of the 36-inch custom length, make a 32-inch.
PING I-SERIES CRAZ-E
STREET PRICE: $160WEBSITE: pinggolf.comTECH STORYThe i-Series features a raised alignment aid that puts the back of the putterhead level with the top line and eliminates the two-dimensional look of the earlier versions. Sole inserts increase the perimeter weighting for a high MOI, and a two-piece face insert combines firm responsiveness with soft feel.PLAYER COMMENTS"The new graphics make it easier to line up, and it feels very heavy and solid. . . . The putterface is a good size, and the designers have weighted this putter in all the right places; it's not too heavy, but it's heavy enough to create good roll. . . . Lots of weight on the bottom adds heft for a solid feel -- and it's easy to aim. Has a crisp sound that anybody would love."HOTThe Craz-E was an instant classic in the Ping line when released in 2004. The new Craz-E's alignment is smarter, and the insert outdoes the original. Furthermore, no one offers more stock length options (eight) and lie options (five).NOTIt might be too heavy for some.
PROFOUND DARK ACE
STREET PRICE: $190 WEBSITE: profoundputters.comTECH STORYBy placing a set of bars directly above two orange lines on the bottom part of the black putter, Profound has created a high-contrast 3-D alignment system to help you set up correctly, with your eyes parallel to the target line and over the ball. The milled-steel face is backed by a soft insert.PLAYER COMMENTS"Very easy to set up, rolls beautifully, sounds great and goes exactly where you want it to. This putter delivers. . . . It really lets you know if you've mis-hit a putt. . . . A good idea and unique approach -- and it really works on short putts. . . . It's like a half-training aid!"HOTYou can do a science-fair project worth of aim and alignment tricks, but it doesn't really mean anything if the feel and performance aren't first-rate. Not a problem here. This is a good putter with an even better setup mechanism.NOTIt might be a difficult putter for players who prefer an inside-to-inside stroke instead of a straight-back, straight-through one. Also, adding a 33-inch stock length is crucial.
STREET PRICE: $325WEBSITE: seemore.comTECH STORYSeeMore has taken its popular rifle-scope alignment system (which encourages the golfer to set up squarely to the target by making sure the red dot behind the shaft is hidden at address and during the stroke) and married it with the latest materials and designs. This 100-percent milled 303 stainless-steel putterhead features a milled-aluminum insert in the cavity that allows weight to be redistributed to the perimeter. The purpose is to increase MOI and improve off-center hits.PLAYER COMMENTS"I can easily judge the gradation on long putts with this, and that's a big plus for those of us who have lots of lag putts. . . . What an awesome camouflage grip -- I'd try it just for that. . . . The red dot helps in the setup, and it's really great on short putts. . . . The shape of the head just lends itself to being set up squarely."HOTThe SeeMore theory almost seems to work better with a mallet, and now we finally see it. A clean shape with an underappreciated feel.NOTThere are less expensive (but just as effective) ways to present this technology.
STREET PRICE: $180WEBSITE: taylormadegolf.comTECH STORYIn addition to high-MOI features, such as enormous volume, and a variety of alignment guides, the Spider's primary attribute is the "anti skid groove system insert." Made of a lightweight but durable seven-metal alloy, the insert is designed to reduce skid and impart forward roll on the ball as early as possible. This is achieved in part by 14 tiny polymer-filled face grooves.PLAYER COMMENTS"It looks like two jet ports that want to ignite, and it feels like I could drop it off a 10-story building and nothing would come loose. . . . Has a nice, pleasing tone at impact. It pleasantly surprised me that the sole didn't scuff the green like it does on so many other high-volume putters. . . . The feel is great, and what do they say -- beauty's in the eye of the beholder? . . . The face feels like hard butter. Great balance and feel."HOTThere's no doubt about it, with a beast this big and balanced, you can make toe and heel hits all day long and still get predictable results.NOTLooks like Mothra.
TITLEIST RED X3/X5
STREET PRICE: $300WEBSITE: titleist.comTECH STORYThese two classic mallets, the new Red X3 and X5 (which has a plumber's neck hosel), have subtle design features. Both have a charcoal finish designed to reduce glare and hidden internal weighting under the aluminum soleplate. The precision-milled 303 stainless-steel head is weighted differently for each shaft length.PLAYER COMMENTS"It has a clean look without too many distractions. It also has good balance. . . . The compact head shape is a pleasing change because it doesn't make me feel like I have to hammer the ball to get the clubhead through. It's easier to stroke it with this one. . . . Unlike most mallets, it's toe-weighted, so it allows for some nice arc putting. It's a flexible putter -- sort of the best of both worlds."HOTFor feel, Scotty Cameron reigns supreme, even in mallets. The truth is, you have to work pretty hard to engineer old-school mallet simplicity like this putter has.NOTWe miss the German stainless-steel face insert found on the original Red X.
STREET PRICE: $150WEBSITE: yesgolf.comTECH STORYYes! is best known for its C-Groove face design, which is intended to prevent skidding and impart topspin on the ball immediately upon impact. The Hanna model takes this technology and combines it with a thin mallet flange. It's also toe-heel weighted for forgiveness on off-center strikes. The putter features a long, single sightline, a center shaft and face-balanced weighting.PLAYER COMMENTS"A fantastic putter, especially with regard to distance control. . . . I generally don't like center shafts, but this one is easy to line up and really shows where you're aimed. . . . The clubface gets through the ball nicely, and it rolls the ball as good as any putter on the market. . . . It's such a simple look -- you can really clear your mind before putting with this."HOTYes! hasn't been a player in mallets, but there's no reason why its emphasis on feel and roll wouldn't play just as strongly in this form. An ideal choice for pendulum strokes.NOTThe center-face grooves don't help hits on the heel and toe.
ZEN ORACLE RDE MALLET
STREET PRICE: $325WEBSITE: zenoracle.co.ukTECH STORYThe lines in the face of the milled stainless-steel RDE Mallet might look like grooves, but don't call them that -- they're "micro ridges" designed to reduce the surface area that's in contact with the ball at impact. The purpose is to eliminate inconsistent roll because of off-center dimple contact.PLAYER COMMENTS"How uncomplicated is this one? It gives you what you need and nothing more. That's very refreshing. It has great alignment, sound, feel and roll. . . . At first, I didn't like the space-age look, but I was pleasantly surprised by the feel. . . . It looks cool. If your natural stance is pretty upright, you'll set this very square."HOTPutter fans might remember the Zen Oracle training aid/putter. As a training tool, the inner cavity or "aperture" was designed to encourage a smooth putting motion. This design also allows weight to be distributed to the perimeter. Not impressed? Then skip the seminar and just use the putter. Any questions? We didn't think so.NOTLook is a little unsettling. Checkout is, too.