IF alignment is your problem on the greens, you might want to familiarise yourself with the brand new Cleveland Golf Smart Square putter.
Everyone knows about the success of the Odyssey 2-Ball putter, a product I imagine that would have found it's way into at least 80% of golfers' hands at some point along the way.
For 2014, Cleveland Golf believes it's added to the concept, yet in its own unique way with a face balanced putter, featuring squares as opposed to circles, where the shaft axis goes right through the centre of the putter face and consequently helps the golfer keep the putter head square through impact.
From what I've researched upon 2-Ball putter and Smart Square putter, the head of the new Cleveland Golf mallet is 0.5cm deeper than the Odyssey offering. It's also slightly heavier by around 10g at 360g, but that's ideal. The weight of this classic mallet design - particularly with the new 'Almost Belly' version, designed with the forthcoming 2016 ban on anchoring putters - aids great feel in the hands and through impact. Taking the putter straight and back through is an effortless procedure.
The longer version, which I favoured of the two, adds 40g to the head (upping it to 400g in total), and utilises a 158g grip (about 2.5 times heavier than normal at 60g), which acts as a counterbalance to smooth out your stroke.
With the weight of clubhead being moved deeper combined with the darkened looks (matte black ensures no glare issues) and low density face insert (increases the MOI to reduce the twisting of the putter through impact), the Cleveland Golf Smart Square ticks all the right boxes when it comes to looks and feel. There's also an ideal soft - yet not too soft - true roll off the putter face when sending the ball in motion.
Yet what really excels when it comes to the key features of the Smart Square design is the performance of Cleveland Golf's innovative Dual Axis Alignment, a feature the company says ensures that squares are far easier to align than any other shape on the market.
According to a recent Cleveland Golf press release, golfers aimed the Smart Square approximately 23% more accurately than "one of the most popular putters of all time." *cough, Odyssey 2-Ball*
The new Dual Axis Alignment, which I learned more about from Cleveland Golf product manager Dean Cracknell at the PGA Show in Orlando, provides the golfer with a clear visual path to the hole with two white squares that sit on top of the head. From my recent testing session I found the two perpendicular lines easily highlighted to me when the mallet was being misaligned. That only adds to confidence when standing over a clutch 5-foot putt. It's the easiest putter to align that I've tested before.
For those of you who like an alignment line indicating the centre of the putter face, you might want to look elsewhere, as too, the player who doesn't fancy a face balanced feel.
Putters that are face balanced have clubhead properties (such as the shaft's entry point and the CG location) such that they open less on the backstroke and close less on the through-stroke in the putting motion. So if you favour a straight-back-and-straight-through putting stroke get yourself involved with the Smart Square. If you employ a more arcing putting stroke then it might be best to stay away from it.
Smart Square is the most advanced Cleveland Golf putter I've ever seen and the 'Almost Belly' is the perfect solution for those worried about the forthcoming 2016 anchored ban. You won't be disappointed with either standard (£120) or Almost Belly (£130) version when the products hit Europe retail on March 1, particularly if you're a face balanced fan. I've always been a face balanced fan and the high-MOI Smart Square is up there with the best. It's great to see Cleveland Golf finally making inroads into the putter market.