Group test: High MOI putters

We test five of the latest back-weighted putters

Nick Bayly
Mon, 29 Sep 2008

Group test: High MOI putters
Our panel of testers try the latest batch of Tour-inspired high MOI putters. We tested the Odyssey White Hot Sabfretooth, the Ping IWi Craz-E, the Yes!Golf Sandy, the Spherical Blade Crescent and the TaylorMade Rossa Monza Spider.

   
   
   

The testing panel (from the left):

Ben White
Handicap: 10
Home Club: Coombe Wood Golf Club

Anthony Lawrence
Handicap: 10
Home Club: Camberley Heath Golf Club

Steve White
Handicap: 13
Home Club: Coombe Wood

Odyssey White Hot XG Sabretooth

Contact: www.callawaygolf.com



Price: £109

Makers say: The putter with the highest MOI in the Odyssey range features 'fangs' that place 37 percent of its weight on the perimeter, far from the clubhead's centre of gravity and designed to create resistance to twisting at impact and keep the putter head online. Aiming lines assist the set-up, and the White Hot XG insert creates soft feel.

Steve: Unusual appearance but I like the look of the Sabretooth. The alignment aid is simple but effective on both short and medium-length putts. The feel off the insert was excellent, but I found the softness of the face worked against getting consistently accurate results on longer efforts. The insert discoloured easily, and I would question its durability over time. The overall balance of the head was superb and the grip was comfortable..


Odyssey Sabretooth putter

Anthony: Looks like a space ship from a Stars Wars' film but nicely weighted and well balanced. Lacked a little height in the head, which makes it essential to strike the ball off the dead centre of the small insert. Any slight miss-hits gave a rather dead feel, although pure strikes sent the ball rolling smoothly towards the hole. Helds its line well on medium to long putts and deadly on shorter ones.

Ben: My favourite - especially for short to medium putts. Excellent alignment aid and gave a soft, but solid feel from the insert. Felt rather unresponsive on slight miss-hits, but off the sweetspot it was exceptional. Overall, it felt nicely balanced and was a reliable performer inside 20 feet.


Ping iWi Craz-E

Contact: www.pingeurope.com


Price: £120


Makers say: It's Ping's next generation of putters, featuring three interchangeable tungsten weight plugs - 12, 20 and 28 grams - to maximize performance according to personal preference and the speed of the greens. Weight kit is sold as an optional extra for £39.99. Head is made from stainless steel with a stainless steel face and two-piece urethane insert.Available also in Anser, Zing, B60, D66 and Hal Craz-E models.

Steve: At address the iWi didn't look a whole lot different to previous Craz-E putters in the I-Series, with typically dull Ping finish. I thought I'd get on well with the simple, solid face devoid of alignment lines, inserts and grooves, but found it a bit harsh. Holing out, it worked well from all ranges and I'd be interested to switch around the weights, as I found the model which we tested (two 12g weights), too lightweight for my taste. The extra cost for the weight set seems a little steep, as the only reason to go for this would be because of the weights, so the price should be built into the overall package. The Winn grip with the raised 'K' logos didn't feel great, either.


Ping iWi Craz-E

Anthony: Slightly let down by the thinness of the easily replaced grip but I liked it. The face was responsive and judging distance on medium to long putts was much easier than others I tested. Results were more consistgent and a bonus (essential for old boys like me) , is that the back weight design makes it easy to scoop up the ball!.

Ben: The elongated head rather fussy, with the 'motorcycle rider' look rather off putting. Feel was a little harsh off the face and harder to get a consistent distance with medium to long range putts. But it was very forgiving across the face and surprisingly accurate on short putts. I like a heavier putter, and given the opportunity, would definitely switch the weights to either the 20 or 28 grams. Once I'd settled on one weight I'd stick with it rather than change around according to course conditions.


Yes! Golf Sandy

Contact: www.yesgolf.co.uk


Price: £139 (graphite)

Makers say: One of six new C-Groove models for 2008 - taking the total to 26 - The Sandy is a face-balanced mallet with a double-bend shaftand most of the mass distributed directly behind the face for maximum stability at impact. A ball-width single sight line in the cavity aids alignment and the face features Yes! Golf's proprietary C-Groove technology, to get the ball rolling more quickly.

Steve: Rather functional in appearance when compared to some of the other models, which is no bad thing. Shiny C-Grooves in the face gave me the impression it was more lofted than it was but after moving my hands forward to remove this visual distraction it seemed to perform well on all lengths of putt. On winter greens, the depth of the grooves will be an issue, surely, with small grains of sand and dirt collecting in the face? They were easy enough to remove, but it's not ideal. Off the face it got the ball rolling quickly and smoothly, although with less of backweight than other models it wasn't quite as forgiving on occasional miss-hits.


The Sandy from Yes! Golf

Anthony: Slightly lighter than other models with the results that short putts needed to be more 'thought out' and required more emphasis on accuracy. Slight miss-hits were punished more severely too, although I was pleased with the smooth roll that the grooves seemed to generate when the ball was struck purely.

Ben: The best looking putter of the bunch, but only because it was the least fussy design. My one criticism is that the overall head is too shiny, and needs some sort of anti-glare finish to dampen down its metallic look. The C-grooves take a bit of getting used and for me it was the least effective of the putters from close range, - it was too light and lacked a weighty feel in the hands. It came into its own on longer putts, with the ball rolling out properly and holding its line pretty well. Given the choice, I'd prefer a blade version of the C-Groove.

Spherical Blade Crescent

Contact: www.sphericalblade.com.com



Price: £128

Makers say: One of ten new S-Blade putters, all of which feature the company's revolutionary 'curved face' technology. Designed with gentle convex curves on its face, it imparts increased top-spin and preventing the 'bobbling' effect so often seen after the putter strikes the ball. The vertical curvature gets the ball rolling with topspin and negates the skid and bobble that can be caused by typical flat-faced putters. A gentle horizontal convex curve along the length of the face, widens the sweet spot and minimises miss-hits to keep the ball on line. Distributed in the UK by Sigma Golf.

Steve: The slight curvature of the face caused concern but my fears proved unfounded once I put it into action. The alignment aid was simple, yet effective and the use of the blue/yellow colour combination was more eye-catching than the normally understated black/white used by many other brands. Feedback was excellent and I found it to be pretty forgiving. It was extremely accurate from all ranges, and I holed a fair amount of putts from close range. It's a shame that the brass weights in the rear are not interchangeable, as I would have like to have played around with that to get the perfect head weight.


Spherical Blade Crescent

Anthony: Not my favourite but a fairly decent performer, without getting me overly excited. Being unable to interchange the weight portals is disappointing as I too would like to tinker to find the optimum weight for the greens i play most. While it delivered a solid enough strike, the sound didn't replicate that feeling, which, for me, also marked it down.

Ben: I'd never seen this brand before and although I found it a little strange to start with, it wasn't unattractive. The face has a slightly curved look to it, which I was told was central to its design but it's not so pronounced as to be distracting though its definitely detectable at address. Feel-wise, it had a good, heavy weight to it and felt very solid off the face, although it was let down a bit by the sound. Delivered an exceptionally smooth roll - one of the best of the test - and I holed plenty of short to medium-length putts.


TaylorMade Rossa Monza Spider

Contact: www.taylormadegolf.com



Price: £129

Makers say: The eye-catching Spider features two moveable weights to allow putter customisation according to conditions or personal preference. Has a lightweight aluminum core and steel wire-frame that positions more weight on the perimeter of the head for a higher MOI, creating more consistent distances on off-centre putts. The Titallium grooved face insert promotes more top spin, which increases directional and distance control by providing a smoother, more consistent roll. A smaller version, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, was launched earlier this month for those who don't want a putter with such a massive carbon and steel footprint.

Steve says: Looks way too complicated for the task in hand. I found the alignment aid distracting rather than helpful and while I initially preferred the metallic insert for feel, I found that the grooves in the face attracted grit and other debris, which needed to be regularly wiped clean. For me it was too long from face to rear and generally too cumbersome.

Performance-wise it worked okay but I found myself leaving the odd putt short, as the overall weight of the clubhead looked like it would hit the ball further than it did. Very forgiving on off-centre hits, which might be fine for poor putters, but I want to know when I've hit a bad one, as I like to feel the difference between my good strokes and my poor ones. In that respect it won't make you a better putter, but it will make your worse putts that much better.

All in all, the sheer size and overall design just didn't too it for me, but I would be interested in trying the smaller version.


Two views of the Rossa Monza Spider

Anthony: A good deal heavier than my own putter (Louisville Golf brass putter), so it took some time to dial in to its distance capabilities. Once I'd got the hang of it, I found it worked much better on shorter putts (less than 15ft), where direction rather than pace was more important, as the alignment aids helped to square the head up at impact. Longer putts were much harder to judge, and I left quite a few short. The whole shape of the head encourages a piston-style putting movement, which would also require some adjustment as my putting stroke is in-to square-to in. The grooved face picked up debris off the green which couldpotentially lead to the odd deflection if not kept clean.

Ben: I found the Spider's web of plastic and metal to be very distracting and its overall size just too big, to the point where the ball looked out of proportion. It worked best for me from short range, but I struggled to get consistent distance on longer putts. On a more positive note, I found the Winn grip on the Spider to be the most comfortable of the five we tested.

The Golfmagic Verdict


With Steve and Anthony currently using mallet putters and Ben an Anser-style blade, these extreme back-weighted models proved a new experience, with the size, weight, balance and cosmetics challenging their preconceptions about what a high performance putter - with high prices to match - can look like.

It would be hard to pick out an overall winner here, as all the models seemed to bring something to the party, from the accuracy of the Sabretooth and the Craz-E, to the smooth roll of the Sandy and the Spherical Blade, and the forgiveness of the Spider.

All players were good putters, and given time agreed that they could get used to them, but none were blown away to the extent that they would consider dropping them straight into their bag, which perhaps says more about the need to spend a lot of time practicing and using your putter than any shortcomings in these models.

While high moment of inertia putters all appear to deliver the ball on a straighter line and are less punishing on miss-hits, it seems that better players don't have a problem with miss-hits with the putter in the same way that they would with say, a driver or an iron, and would much rather have an unfussy head with bags of feel, than a huge hunk of metal and plastic with complicated sightlines and all the bells and whistles.

The ability to change weights is a big step forward for all putters, especially the larger headed models which can offer sizeable differences in weight depending on the materials used. Another factor to emerge from the test was the importance of shaft length. All three testers commented on the need to get the right length to suit your height and stroke in order to feel totally comfortable over the ball. So the next time you look at buying a putter don't just opt for the off-the-shelf length, which is normally 35 inches, try out some shorter models, as getting your hands closer to the ball will generally improve accuracy and feel.l.

Golf at Burhill

*Our thanks to Burhill Golf Club in Surrey for hosting the testing day on their excellent putting green and for a round on the superb New Course. Burhill welcomes visitors Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays. There are two contrasting 18-hole courses - the historic Old Course, designed by Willie Park Jr, and the outstanding New Course. Green fees are: New Course £70; Old Course £85 (25% discount for Surrey county card holders). Visitors are also welcome to enjoy lunch in the magnificent Georgian clubhouse's Orangery Restaurant, prepared by chef Andrew Owen, Club House Magazine Chef of the Year 2008. To book a tee time, call the Professional's Shop on 01932 221729. For more information, visit www.burhillgolf-club.co.uk.

*We want to know about the clubs in your bag - as well as the balls, shoes, waterproofs. Submit a user review to help other discerning golfers make good purchasing decisions.
 

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