One of the reasons we started PutterZone in the first place is because, unlike any other club in the bag, the putter is the province of artists, inventors, entrepreneurs and deep thinkers. Not a year goes by without new contraptions hitting the market from unlikely places.
Here are three such sticks that you might want to consider in the search for your best putter this summer. And remember, things that look a bit bizarre today could very well become the mainstream of tomorrow:
- The Ice Block Putter looks just like it sounds, with the shaft embedded in what appears to be a block of ice. Even the company admits that “the story behind the Ice Block putter is quite an odd one,” and that story begins with a Swiss surgeon with habit of inventing things from medical devices to golf clubs. The premise is that by creating a massive symmetrical head out of soft clear acrylic, you can enjoy the benefits of an equally massive sweet spot. The kicker is that on flat lies, the putter stands up on its own, allowing you set up to the ball, let go of the shaft, step away and look back through the clear head. You can literally walk around the thing, observe the alignment lines and adjust the putter angle accordingly for more precise alignment before taking your stroke. And when a Swiss surgeon talks about precision, you have to figure he may be on to something! This year, the Ice Block putter transitions from promising prototype to retail product. If you struggle with alignment and you don’t mind generating a lot of double takes from your peers on the green, it might be worth trying out.
- The Bradley Putter literally came out of the woodwork this year, quite possibly setting the record for the fastest turnaround between initial concept to in-hand retail product: 61 days. It helps when you don’t have to navigate the world of stainless steel sourcing, CNC milling machines and mass production. Indeed, the Bradley putter is made entirely of Oregon burl wood by entrepreneur Bradely Converse, who crafts his one-of-a-kind putters at home in his garage. Flying under the banner of “highly engineered, beautifully simple,” the Bradley putter has a lot more going on under the hood than you might suspect at first glance. Indeed, they feature embedded metal weights behind the face to ensure a proper head weight and swingweight. Current models include the Bradley Big Box King elder putter, an 8802-style heel-shafted blade, and the Bradley Spalted Maple Boondock putter (pictured above), a center-shafted block blade with a gorgeous speckled wood grain. Rumor is that they cost a lot (starting at $500 and up; you can request a “quote” from the web site), but for a true handcrafted performance putter that doubles as a work of art and stands out from the crowd, it’s not an unreasonable ask.
- The Sentio Sierra putter is not as radical looking as the previous two entries, but it does bring a new fitting concept to market with a unique look to match. With the Sierra blade putter, you can choose the feel of your putter off the face by selecting one of three color-coded models for a soft, medium or firm feel. The difference is created by a dampening polymer core that runs behind the face, made with different levels of firmness. The polymer core is ported through the topline of the putter in the form of a line that runs parallel to the face. Green polymer (shown below) signifies the softest feel, while blue represents the firmest (with red in between). The company offers a feel-fitting tool on its web site, and if for some reason you pine for something firmer or softer after purchasing, they give you a one-time free trade in for another model. The Sentio Sierra putter also claims a high MOI resulting from the low-density polymer core, as well as “dampening channels” from the polymer that help correct off-center hits. On top of all of that, they are just kind of cool looking, although they will set you back $299.