ULTIMATE PUTTER TE
3 mallets that just can’t miss!
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.
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