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October 29, 2010

ClubTest 2011: When it comes to putters, keep an open mind

Posted at 10:48 AM by David Dusek | Categories: ClubTest 2011, Putters

PALM BEACH GARDEN, Fla. — Thursday morning found Golf Magazine's ClubTesters on the practice green at PGA National Resort & Spa. Several large golf bags stood by, filled with heel-toe-weighted blades, mid-size mallets and several high-MOI putters.

For any player who struggles when it comes to rolling the rock, this would have been a cornucopia of hope.

But Drew Iassacman doesn't look for hope; he coldly looks for results.

"I think that most amateurs give themselves too much credit for being good putters when they actually aren't," Isaacman said. "I track it, and if I hit 10 greens and make less than 30 putts, then I think that I'm playing pretty well."

The video below shows Isaacman hitting a downhill, 20-foot putt using one of the putters he liked a lot. And in case you're wondering ... yes, it was the first putt I taped.

The first thing that Isaacman looks for when he evaluates a new putter is how it handles short putts. "Three footers ... if they track straight on short putts," he said. "If the short putts go where I'm aiming and the putter swings where I'm aiming it. If it doesn't, then the other stuff—looks, feel—doesn't matter. Nothing matters if the short putts don't go straight."

While he plays a mid-size mallet, Isaacman is open to most putters as long as they are not too big. But he does have an interesting prerequisite: "I would never buy a putter that I couldn't have bent flatter or more upright," he said. "If I get a putter that has a hozel, then I know that I can always get that done."

Fifteen feet away, Tom Jennings was shaking his head. "I'm makin' putts with it," he said in disbelief while looking at a uniquely-shaped putter. "I'm not especially fond of the way it looks, but I'm making putts with it so it's lookin' better and better."

In his thick Georgia accent, Jennings told me he recently yanked his heel-toe-weighted blade putter. "I wasn't putting well and went to a high-MOI putter that looks like a metal detector or a satellite dish," he said with a chuckle. "I started making putts, but of course then I stopped hitting greens … that's golf."

Since he spoke so colorfully about the look of different putters, I asked Jennings if he would use a putter that didn't please his eye but performed well. His answer was yes, but he admitted that wasn't always the case.

"This is my first time doing putters at ClubTest," he said. "So my eyes are being opened to what's out there. I mean, look at the variety of putters we've got over there. Anybody can find something. Normally, you just go and pull one or two putters off the rack and go putt with them, but this is like Christmas in July."

Isaacman provided a sage summation as to why golfers should be open to trying new flatsticks. "Your putter has got to have the best ratio of dollars you spend to strokes you can save," he says. "A new driver can easily cost $400, but even the most expensive putter here at ClubTest is less than that, and you'll likely use your putter on more than one-third of your strokes."

- Go to ClubTest 2010

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