It’s a bird, it’s a plane it’s a…putter? That was the reaction by many when Luis Pedraza unveiled his alien-looking Axis1 Eagle putter at the 2009 PGA Merchandise Show. But Pedraza got the last laugh pretty quickly, earning numerous high-profile accolades by the end of the show. Luis is no stranger to innovation. He is an industrial designer with more than 25 patents to his name. Among is accomplishments is the design of the Spaceball, a three-dimensional computer mouse that was used to control the Mars Rover. As an avid golfer, Luis was driven to explore ideas focusing on putting. In his words, he “recognized a critical flaw in contemporary putter design: that all major putters on the market today are actually out of balance.” Following is PutterZone.com’s exlusive interview with Luis Pedraza, in which he elaborates on the patented properties of the Axis1 putter.
What do you mean by “100 percent perfectly balanced putter”—can you explain it in layman’s terms compared to the average putter?
The Axis1’s patented technology evolved from a simple insight, that all major brand putters are designed to naturally open up while a player is addressing the ball and swinging the club.
Take a typical putter, address the ball, relax your grip, and you will notice the club head will naturally flop open about the axis of the shaft. This tendency to open up is due to the weight of the club not being balanced with respect to the location of the shaft. This means that before a golfer even begins to swing the club, he or she is already compensating for the club’s natural tendency to push the ball off line. The Axis1 putter is the first putter to place the center of gravity of the club exactly on the sweet spot of the striking face and in line with the axis of the shaft at the same time.
This perfect balance provides a golfer with a putter that remains perfectly perpendicular to the direction of the putt, no matter how lightly he or she holds the grip, and because the putter will not torque when it strikes the ball, it ensures more on-line putts and lower scores.
How did you achieve this type of balance in the Axis1 putter?
The Axis1 perfect balance is accomplished by pushing the heel weight of the club forward of the striking face and creating a patented heel counter weight to the toe area. The heel counterweight allows for center of gravity of the club to be placed exactly on the sweet spot of the striking face and in line with the axis of the shaft at the same time.
What are the benefits to the average golfer—and does it work with an arcing stroke as well as a straight-back-straight-through stroke?
Regardless of whether a golfer prefers an arcing stroke or a straight-back-straight-through stroke, the Axis1’s perfect balance ensures that the face of the club remains steady throughout the stroke. By eliminating the club’s tendency to open up, the Axis1 benefits the golfer by increasing confidence that their putts will be more on line with better distance control and more feel. And because the center of gravity of the club is located exactly at the point of impact, the ball will have a true roll and the player will experience zero twisting when the club hits the ball.
The unconventional shape of the putter is definitely a conversation starter. How do you overcome the hesitation that many will have toward such an unfamiliar look?
Real innovation often challenges the norm of what consumers expect a product should look like. Within the golf industry, products like large head titanium drivers, hybrid irons and tight lie woods, have also encountered some initial resistance to the unfamiliar shape. However, if a given technology is sound, the consumer eventually recognizes the benefit and embraces it. After all, why would you ever want to keep using an inferior product?
You’ve said that the putter industry has tended to overlook balance in favor of alignment features. But that tide may be turning. Do you think that the BackStryke by Odyssey and others are going to nip at your heels?
Ever since the introduction of the Odyssey 2-ball, must putters have focused on designing new alignment features. Unfortunately, the deeper the alignment features have gotten, the more these clubs tend to open up due to more weight being placed further away from the shaft.
The fact that Odyssey has introduced a new line of putters that rotate their face balance 90 degrees to match the Axis1’s face orientation suggests they clearly see the merit of what Axis’1 is doing. Fortunately, the Axis1’s patented approach should ensure that it remains the only company that can place the center of gravity of the club right where it belongs, exactly on the sweet spot of striking face.
What’s next from Axis1?
Axis1 will continue to develop new putters styles based on our patented technology. Regardless of your putter style preference—blade, mallet, urethane insert, metal face, long shaft, etcetera—you will also be able to get the perfect balance only Axis1 can deliver.
Thanks, Luis! Stay tuned for PutterZone.com’s Axis1 putter review.