Pros: Square alignment aids make it incredibly easy to aim, and the face insert feels soft and rolls the ball well. There won’t be any glare issues, even on the brightest of days, thanks to the matte black finish.
Cons: Golfers who like a line indicating the center of the putter face are out of luck with the Smart Square, as are those who want something other than a face-balanced putter.
Bottom Line: Sometimes, it’s the small things that make a difference. Such is the case with the Smart Square, which like Odyssey’s Versa putters from 2013 use a small cosmetic change to add considerable alignment benefits.
In recent years, Cleveland putters have flown under the radar, overshadowed by the likes of Odyssey, Scotty Cameron and Ping, who stayed in the spotlight by finding ways to excite golfers with new putter lines every year or two.
The Smart Square might be the putter that steals some spotlight back for Cleveland. It’s a high-MOI design (with the not-so-high price of $139) and slick new alignment system is sure to catch the attention of the industry.
The selling point of the Smart Square is that alignment system — the two white squares that sit on top of the matte black putter head. The combination of parallel and perpendicular lines creates what Cleveland calls “Dual Axis Alignment,” which frames the golf ball and helps a golfer visualize the proper path to the hole.
According to a Cleveland press release, golfers aimed the Smart Square 23 percent more accurately than “one of the most popular putters of all time.” That’s a clear shot at Odyssey’s famed 2-Ball putter, which no doubt inspired the Smart Square. The question is, will the squares make Odyssey’s 2-Ball alignment system seem, well… square? More on that below.
The Smart Square, available for pre-order on Oct. 15, will be sold in lengths of 33, 34 and 35 inches in both heel- and center-shafted models (heel-shafted only for lefties.. It will also be available in Cleveland’s “Almost Belly” length of 39 inches, with a stock 360-gram head and a counterbalancing 158-gram grip. The Almost Belly (right-hand only) will retail for, $179, forty bucks more than the standard model.
The putters come stock with 3 degrees of loft and a 70-degree lie angle. The stock Winn putter grip weighs 60 grams.
Aiming the Smart Square putter is so simple, provided you’re not a golfer who likes a line in the middle of your putter. It’s black finish contrasts wonderfully with the two white squares on top of the putter head, giving golfers both parallel and perpendicular reference points.
Much like Odyssey’s idea to finish its Versa putters with contrasting black and white lines for better alignment, the concept of swapping the 2-Ball’s circles for more alignment-friendly squares seems obvious after the fact. And the squares seem to be just the right shape and size. They hug the edges of the golf ball when the putter is properly set up, which will help golfers find the center of the putter face at address.
For me, the squares did a great job at helping me see the proper track to the hole, particularly on short putts, where a fraction of a degree of misalignment can be the difference between a made putt and a missed one.
From a forgiveness standpoint, the high-MOI design shined, working hand-in-hand with the putter’s copolymer insert to provide somewhat consistent speeds across the middle of the insert.
Looks and Feel
I’m a milled putter snob, but I have to admit the feel of the Smart Square made me seriously reconsider my snobbery. On long and short putts, the copolymer insert kept a consistent soft feel. And the insert isn’t overly soft either, which can kill off the important vibrations from mishits golfers need to monitor the success of their strikes.
Unlike Odyssey’s Versa putters, the company chose to make the insert black, matching the body color of the putter. Traditionalists will appreciate this detail, as it keeps a somewhat traditional look at address and keeps the emphasis where it should be; lining up the path of the squares to the aim point.
I also enjoyed the stock Winn Pro Pistol grip, which is firmer than Winn grips I’ve used in the past. That’s a definite plus for good players, who often prefer a firm, tacky surface to help them relax their grip pressure.
If you have a straight-back, straight-through stroke or enjoy the look of an alignment-boosting mallet, you should definitely give the Smart Square a roll. It’s stealthy black finish makes the putter look a little more compact than it actually is, and you might find that you like the help of two squares to help you get square to your target line.
With a price point of $139, the Smart Square isn’t going to hurt your golfing budget much, either. And like me, I think you’ll find that it feels surprisingly premium for a putter that price.