ORLANDO, Fla. -- A small company can still break into the golf equipment industry, especially in putters. Those clubs are often impulse buys. You're not a serious golfer unless your collection of putters is in double figures.
At last year's PGA Merchandise Show, I discovered the Axis 1 putter, an innovative piece of engineering that all but eliminated torque (twisting) in the putting stroke. That club is still in my bag, and Axis 1 is here at the show, alive and kicking and boasting tour player Patrick Sheehan among its users.
This year's Axis 1 could be the putters from Utopia Golf Products. These putters have a unique look and are trying to do what every other putter does -- get the ball rolling with overspin as quickly as possible. The Utopia TXR 1 (a standard rectangular blade model) and TXR II (standard mallet) do this because of a large ridge line -- the edge, Utopia co-founder Bill Deichler calls it -- that runs horizontally across the putter face.
"Did you ever use the edge of a sand wedge to putt from just off the edge of a green?" Deichler asked. "The edge of that club gets the ball turning over right away. That's what we tried to do with these putters."
The edge is designed so that its leading edge strikes the ball first, a little north of the ball's equator, to produce a quick and true roll. (With many putters, the ball actually skids the first few inches after contact before beginning to roll over.)
There's no question the Utopia models get the ball rolling. The best part is, they have a nice feel at impact. The club does what it's supposed to do.
By the way, the company is named after the co-founders' hometown of Utopia, Texas, a village of about 300 located 80 miles west of San Antonio in Texas Hill Country.