Whitlam Golf could be called one of the “biggest little” putter companies in the world.
Indeed, Whitlam Golf boasts a long track record, a dedicated following and a ton of diverse offerings under the Whitlam, Gauge and Maruman labels. Yet it remains a small artisan operation at its core, maintaining a bit of cult status in the world of golf.
One of Whitlam’s latest offerings is the limited-edition CU-1 copper mallet ($500) with SPI (sole plate insert) technology. Does this distinctive copper putter earn its lofty asking price? Following is PutterZone.com’s Whitlam CU-1 putter review.
Whitlam Golf was founded by David Whitlam, a native of Edmonton Canada. David started golfing at the age of eight, and he developed an interest in club fitting and club making while working at a golf discount store as a teenager. He later graduated from the San Diego Golf Academy, and also earned a business degree at California State University San Marcos, setting the stage for his own golf equipment enterprise.
Whitlam’s putters are, to borrow a lyric from a famous song, big in Japan. They have a strong presence on the Japanese and Korean tours, and a strong consumer following in Asia, too. Nevertheless, Whitlam Golf consists of just three employees: David Whitlam; “all around club guy” Eric Picon; and marketing specialist Rob Hylton. As Rob puts it, “We all do a bit of everything.”
According to Whitlam Golf, the copper of the CU-1 is softer than stainless steel. The CU-1’s black SPI aluminum sole plate is designed to distribute more relative weight toward the perimeter of the head to enlarge the putter’s sweet spot. The CU-1 comes with two shaft configurations: straight center shafted, and double bend heel shafted.
The CU-1 is available in half-inch increments from 32 to 36 inches. The head weight is 355 grams. The standard lie angle is 71 degrees, and the loft is 3.5 degrees. The putter is face balanced. A face-balanced putter is considered ideal for a straight-back-and-through stroke.
The View from PutterZone.com
The CU-1 is flat-out fun. Not in a cutesy way, but rather in a badass “I just love to pull this stick out of my bag” kind of way.
The copper look of this putter is stunning. It’s not a dark copper, but rather a brilliant copper, almost luminescent in quality. A clear coat is applied to the head to hold off weathering and maintain the metal’s native brilliance. Over time, however, with exposure to the elements, it will develop a bit of a patina, which is fine with me. I’ve always loved how the old PING manganese bronze putters would weather and darken over time, a vivid reflection of your time spent on the course. The finish of the CU-1 should provide a similar visual reward over time.
The CU-1’s black sole plate insert offers a striking contrast with the copper, providing some directional alignment benefits along the way. The edges of the insert frame the ball, and provide a parallel reference with the white sightline that runs down the middle. The putter head is elegantly designed, with symmetrical scoops and steps that create a sense of visual balance.
The tolerances of the sole plate are remarkably precise. The seam of the plate along the flange and cavity is essentially imperceptible to the naked eye. In other words, it looks like black paint, not a separate piece of metal. This speaks to the care that went into designing the SPI technology, and the quality control that went into executing it.
While the copper is said to be softer than stainless steel, I wouldn’t characterize the feel of the CU-1 as soft. It has a nice core of suppleness at contact, but there’s a crispness there as well, particularly in the audio department. There’s a beautiful airy quality to the sweet spot, as if the putter is passing through the ball—yet you get that crisp click at contact for reliable feedback.
I tested the straight center shaft model. It’s an underrated shaft configuration that can help many golfers. Most putters have a hosel or bended shaft with some degree of offset, so a lot of golfers have never had the occasion or opportunity to play with a straight no-offset shaft. There’s a linear simplicity to this configuration that may not work for everyone, but I think that more golfers might benefit from considering it.
The CU-1 is milled and made in the U.S.A., and proudly features the American flag milled into the sole. The overall ornamentation of the putter is fairly restrained, giving it a classy ambiance. The branded Whitlam grip is first rate. The Velcro-closure headcover, however, doesn’t quite match the quality of the putter itself.
I can’t conclude this review without addressing the putter’s $500 price tag. I’ve received numerous comments over the years from golfers scoffing at the notion of a $300 putter, let alone a $500 putter. I sort of understand the complaint…and yet I don’t.
Sure, if Jerry Kelly can win on the PGA Tour with a $69 Cleveland Classic putter, then the average golfer probably doesn’t need to raid his or her savings account to acquire a capable flatstick. At the same time, many putters feature helpful technologies and exceptional materials that are costly to incorporate. Beyond that, some putters command even higher prices with superior quality or artistry, like a fine watch, automobile or wine. Rarity is another consideration. The Whitlam CU-1 rings all of these bells.
Which brings me to my point—you may not need a copper CU-1 putter with SPI technology, but you sure as hell might want one. And if you want one bad enough to pay $500 for it, then I see nothing wrong with that. It’s a putter that could put a smile on your face for the rest of your golfing life.
The Bottom Line
The Whitlam CU-1 stands out from the crowd with its brilliant copper head, gorgeous curves and unique sole plate insert technology. The feel of this putter is equally sexy, and it offers a vivid sense of balance from setup through stroke. Consider this putter not only an investment in your game, but in your enjoyment of the game as well.