Cleveland Frontline Elite putters: What you need to know
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Cleveland debuts Frontline Elite putters, the latest model to feature the concept of repositioning the center of gravity as far forward as possible. The company’s research has held that a forward CG leads to more consistent directional control on putts, and this year’s new models push that CG even farther forward by replacing an aluminum face with a heavy tungsten face.
PRICE: $250 ($300 with UST Mamiya All-In graphite shaft), eight models. Available in stores Feb. 22.
3 COOL THINGS
1. The weighting game. When Cleveland introduced the Frontline family of putters more than three years ago, the idea essentially turned on its head the conventional wisdom that a forgiving putter needed its center of gravity pushed farther back from the face for a more stable head on off-center impacts. Rather, the Frontline idea was that weight forward kept the face from opening up too much on off-center hit and sending the ball off just fractionally off-line. (That smallest of wobbles would lead to a sure missed putt from as little as 10 feet, but if the CG was forward that same mis-hit would still be in the hole at a distance of 15 feet.)
While later Frontline putters actually positioned heavy tungsten weights in the heel and toe, the new Frontline Elite putters go one step farther by making the entire face out of tungsten. Essentially, instead of adding weights to the face, the face became the big weight itself. Heel and toe weights in the sole add more mass in a forward position, while also balancing out the stability on off-center hits for more consistent distances. The new tungsten face puts another 24-26 grams as far forward as it could possibly be. But these putters carry the similar appearance of a larger mallet, with the same aiming and alignment benefits, but in a more skeletal construction. By using lightweight aluminum and ABS polymer allows the front weighting to be effective, saving over 160 grams for repositioning that weighting to the front.
That allows the three main mallets in the line, Elevado, Cero and Rho, to look like putters that have deep weighting at the perimeter to maintain those traditional looks with this new thinking. The Elevado is a winged mallet with parallel arms (like the Odyssey #7 or the Titleist Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5 or the Ping Tyne). The Cero is traditional clamshell mallet (like the Odyssey Rossie). The Rho is a squarish mallet with the appearance of deep heel and toe weighted winglets (somewhat like the TaylorMade Spider X).
“It’s really about making some shapes that are recognizable but with a CG that performs significantly better,” said Dustin Brekke, director of engineering at Cleveland/Srixon Golf. “And you can't do that without having some multi material construction. We're trying to carve out as much of that deep mass as well as just the overall mass to be able to get to this shape that is not just a top-down view of the putter at the address position, but also has the same kind of overall body appearance in size.”
8.0 (blade) face
2. The face does more than just put weight up front. The weighting of the Frontline Elite putters is about marrying and controlling direction and distance, but the tungsten face again features the pattern of swirled vertical grooves designed to optimize speed off the face for more consistent rollout. Those swirls, made through the metal injection matrix process that produces the entire insert, vary between tightly concentrated and more spread out toward the heel and toe. That slightly reduces energy transfer on center while maintaining it on the heel and toe. The result is ball speed and roll that’s similar whether impact is on-center or off-center. Even more significantly, each face pattern is specifically designed to match how stable each head’s natural stability might be. So a less stable head like the No. 1 blade will use a different face pattern than a more stable head like the Rho.
Rho (mallet) face
3. Improving consistency by feel. Another key to getting putts to roll out more consistently is building more consistency in how a putter feels in making a stroke. These Frontline Elite models use the weight screws in the head and a selectively counterbalanced grip with weights in the butt end to further stabilize the overall system of shaft and head. Cleveland’s also worked with shaftmaker UST Mamiya to feature the All-In putter shaft. Its combination of graphite and a steel tip is designed with a stiffer profile to provide a more consistently square face angle at impact to keep more putts online.