3 mal­lets that just can’t miss!

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Golf, as coach­ing leg­end Har­vey Penick drily ob­served, is not about how good your good shots are, but how bad your bad ones are. As a premise, that’s a lit­tle eas­ier to grasp with a 300-yard drive than a 10ft putt. Yet the in­creased pres­ence of sta­ble-headed and for­giv­ing mal­let put­ters on the world’s tours sug­gests that Penick’s apho­rism is fi­nally be­ing ap­plied to the short­est club in the bag. Yes, for­give­ness has be­come a key player in the put­ter nar­ra­tive; and if you’re not con­vinced it needs to be, con­sider this ro­bot test con­ducted a cou­ple of years ago by putting spe­cial­ists Zen Golf. Fif­teen blade-style put­ters (think Ping Anser) went up against 15 mal­lets. Each put­ter was set up to strike two 20ft putts – one off the cen­tre, and a sec­ond a quar­ter-ball into the toe. On av­er­age, blade put­ters lost 21.14cm of dis­tance on the toe strike, mal­lets just 12.13cm. Blades were also fur­ther out for line, av­er­ag­ing 10.28cm right of tar­get (as the toe strike opens the face) com­pared to 7.13cm for mal­lets. Let us also con­sider that in 2016 Jason Day used Tay­lorMade’s Spi­der Tour Red to compile the best putting stats in re­cent his­tory. His

ex­ploits, plus Dustin John­son’s, Ser­gio Gar­cia’s and the fact the Spi­der has scut­tled off the shelves, means it has to be in­cluded in our 2017 mal­lets test. The in­trigu­ing new Mi­cro­hinge Tech­nol­ogy fea­tured on the face of Odyssey’s O-Works also de­manded in­clu­sion. Mak­ing up the trio is Evn­roll’s ER6 – a new name for many, but de­signed by an es­tab­lished fig­ure in Guerin Rife. Claim­ing tech­nol­ogy to straighten heel-toe strikes and boast­ing ‘the sweet­est face in golf’, Evn­roll has won a se­ries of plau­dits in just over a year, and de­serves closer at­ten­tion.

All three were tested for qual­ity of roll and mis­strike per­for­mance on Track­Man’s brand-new putting tech­nol­ogy. A blade aim laser was used to see how easy each put­ter was to align. Blended with our test­ing team’s sub­jec­tive thoughts on each put­ter’s looks and feel, the re­sults we ar­rived at rep­re­sent a com­pre­hen­sive com­par­i­son of three of the lead­ing mal­lets you can buy to­day. We used the fa­cil­i­ties of ForeGolf, cus­tom-fit­ting ex­perts based at Killeen Cas­tle, Co Meath in Ire­land. Our three-man test­ing team con­sisted of World and Euro­pean Club­maker of the Year Derek Mur­ray, PGAs of Europe Golf De­vel­op­ment Con­sul­tant and Ice­land Na­tional coach Jussi Pitka­nen and Golf World se­nior edi­tor Kit Alexan­der. Pre­mium balls were used.

On a roll

One thing all put­ter brands agree on is that a ball rolling purely – end over end – will hold its line bet­ter than a ball that bounces and skids. Con­se­quently, each put­ter on test boasts face tech­nol­ogy de­signed to get the ball rolling as quickly as pos­si­ble. Most in­no­va­tive are the 150 or so tiny Mi­cro­hinges found on Odyssey’s O-Works. A clear evo­lu­tion of the metal/rub­ber combo that de­buted in 2015’s Fusion RX in­sert, th­ese steel hinges are de­signed to com­press and re­lease against a poly­mer sur­face on im­pact to cre­ate skid-de­fy­ing en­ergy.

Rife ush­ered in the mod­ern era of grooved put­ter faces 20 years ago. Grooves, he rea­soned, re­duce con­tact with the ball, lim­it­ing fric­tion and the cre­ation of back­spin. Evn­roll’s grooved face con­tin­ues the tra­di­tion, and adds roll con­sis­tency across the face into the equa­tion through vari­able thick­ness grooves and pre­ci­sion milling.

‘Rife ush­ered in grooved faces 20 years ago. Grooves, he rea­soned, re­duce con­tact with the ball, lim­it­ing fric­tion and back­spin’

Tay­lorMade have pro­duced anti-skid faces since 2005’s AGSI al­loy in­sert. This mor­phed into Pure Roll in 2011, avail­able for the first time in surlyn in the Spi­der Tour’s an­ces­tor, the Ghost Spi­der. This lat­est in­sert em­ploys the 45º an­gle to the grooves first seen in last year’s TP col­lec­tion. Tay­lorMade say it adds 25-50rpm in top­spin.

Track­ing the full length of the putt, Track­Man’s putting tech­nol­ogy can de­ter­mine at what point the ball stops skid­ding and starts rolling, al­low­ing a roll per­cent­age stat. The higher the fig­ure, the sooner the ball is achiev­ing true roll. Our testers hit putts at 10ft and 20ft.

Our key find­ing here was that all three put­ters per­formed very well. The low­est roll per­cent­age on any sin­gle putt was a rea­son­able 82 per cent, with the high­est at 88 per cent. As test­ing pro­gressed, how­ever, Odyssey’s O-Works and Evn­roll’s ER6 be­gan to el­e­vate them­selves slightly above the Spi­der Tour. ER6 reg­is­tered the high­est in­di­vid­ual roll per­cent­age – 88 per cent at 20ft for one tester; while O-Works was ei­ther best or equal best roller for all three testers from 10ft.

An­other use­ful find­ing was roll qual­ity from off-cen­tre strikes. This showed a vic­tory for Evn­roll, the ER6 de­liv­er­ing an 87 per cent roll per­cent­age com­pared to 85 per cent for the other two. None of th­ese put­ters are go­ing to let you down for roll. But our find­ings sug­gested that while O-Works shaded it on shorter putts, Evn­roll was very marginally su­pe­rior across the board.

Mishit per­for­mance

All three put­ters are de­signed to de­liver con­sis­tent per­for­mance across the face – in short, for­give­ness.

Evn­roll’s ER6 fea­tures grooves that get thin­ner to­wards the heel and toe, pro­gres­sively in­creas­ing en­ergy trans­fer to com­pen­sate for the loss of speed from the off-cen­tre strike. It also has a long weight car­tridge be­hind the head that pulls weight back from the face, in­creas­ing the MOI. Face-milling has also been shaped to cre­ate a sub­tle gear­ing ef­fect to bring heel and toe strikes back on line.

The clas­sic 2-Ball shape lets Odyssey cre­ate a rear-weighted put­ter, with the in­sert’s light­ness in­creas­ing the heel-toe bal­ance and head sta­bil­ity.

Evn­roll ER6R Lengths: 33in, 34in, 35in Loft: 2° Bal­ance: 12° toe down Price: £275 Odyssey O-Works 2-Ball Lengths: 33in, 34in, 35in Loft: 3° Bal­ance: Face balanced Price: £199

Tay­lorMade Spi­der Tour Red Lengths: 34in, 35in Loft: 3° Bal­ance: 38° toe down Price: £269

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