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Putter Reviews

Review: Cleveland Classic Collection HB 1 Putter

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Pros: The Cleveland Classic HB 1 costs only $99, yet it offers the clean look and soft feel of more expensive putters. It’s available in two finishes, black pearl and the satin chrome.

Cons: No removable weights, but what do you expect for less than $100? The 340-gram head weight is trending on the light side for modern putters, particularly in the the 33- and 34-inch lengths.

Bottom Line: Have you read those stories about a tour pro pulling a putter out of a bucket, putting it in play and playing their best golf? The Cleveland Classic HB 1 is not a bucket putter, but it just might be the one that pulls your game up when you need it. You don’t need to save up for one of these, so if you’re desperate to try something the Classic Collection putters are a great place to start.

Overview

The HB 1 Black Pearl has a plumber’s neck hosel, in contrast to the other cavity-back blades in the line, the slant-neck HB 4.5 model and flare-neck HB 7. Other models in the line include a half-mallet HB 2 (think Phil Mickelson’s putter), the HB 6, which is a more traditional mallet with a double-bend shaft, an HB 3 (think Ping Zing) and the HB 10, a mallet with a plumber’s neck.

The HB 1 comes in three shaft lengths (33, 34 and 35 inches). It comes stock with a 70-degree lie angle and a 3 degrees of loft. The head weighs in at 340 grams and the grip adds an additional 60 grams to overall weight. The HB 1 comes in left and right-handed models. A black head cover (the type that cloaks the head from toe to hosel, and seals with velcro) comes standard.

Performance

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I suspect (but cannot prove) that the Cleveland Classic HB 1 Black Pearl is one of the most solid blocks of metal on the business end of a putter. Try as I might, I could not find a hot spot nor a weak one. Mind you, aberrant toe and heel hits will certainly result in diminished returns, but any strike near the center line will come off with consistency.

In this age of metrics, equipment companies use numbers to differentiate their product lines from the competition. In the case of the HB 1 putter, this involves a curious elaboration of the lie, loft and weight numbers on the sole of the club. Other than drivers and wedges, loft and lie of clubs matters little to not-at-all to the vast majority of golfers.

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Don’t be distracted by the words “face milled” on the heel of the putter face. Face milling is nice, but it is used to cover a cast head. Truly high-end putters are 100 percent milled from a single block of steel. If given a choice between face-milled or not, I’ll gladly take the face milled. If Cleveland offered a 100-percent milled HB 1, I might be even more impressed with the putter. But then again, the manufacturing process would likely drive the price up two or three times its current amount: a huge price to pay for a putter that may or may not feel any better than the HB 1.

Looks and Feel

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One thing that I like about this golf club is the top-to-bottom consistency in color choices. The only things not black or white are the shaft, the shaft label (gold writing) and the word “Golf” on the back of the club face (unseen at address). The grip is primarily black, with a white-piped Cleveland logo near the top. The club head is all black, save for the white alignment line and the word “Cleveland” on the rear of the club face (also unseen at address). This minimalist consistency strikes a chord with me; unlike many of the futuristic mallet putters on the market, the HB 1 Black Pearl offers no visual distractions. Nothing sidetracks the eye from the grip and the putter head. Nothing distracts your eye from the task at hand.

The Winn grip issued standard on the HB 1 Black Pearl is very comfortable. It is soft (but not mushy) and tacky due to its cross-hatched line pattern. Avoiding the slickness of a smooth grip, the Winn grip emulates the milled face of this putter, suggesting that you will hold this club firmly, with great stability. The putter head consists of simple lines. Nothing is obscured by the plumber’s neck hosel and the single white alignment line serves to give the eye something to fix upon, contrasting with the blackness of the club head.

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Perhaps the best adjective to describe the HB 1 club head is soft. There is no clunky feel at the moment of head-ball contact, nor is there a sound of any discernible volume. The gentle click at impact might be likened to the hiccup of Cindy Lou Who during a midnight water scamper; you hear nothing! For those who need some clatter at point of contact, this might prove to be a negative. For those who treasure the empty feeling of a sweet-spot strike, this putter should merit consideration for bag inclusion.

Takeaway

The price point of the Cleveland Classic HB 1 Black Pearl is far beneath the cost of typical tour-model putters. If you like this club as much as I did, it will enjoy a lengthy stay in your bag. What we don’t know is how long the grip will last, keep in mind two things: the softer the grip, the less durable it is. However, since putting involves little of the torque found in the full swing, this Winn grip should wear down much slower.

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My suggestion is the same with all putters: test it out, leave it, test it a second time, leave it. If you still love it the third time out, buy it. A ben franklin is not a casual bill to drop, but it’s money well spent in the case of the HB 1 Black Pearl.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.clevelandgolf.com/US_classic-collection-hb-1-black-pearl-putter__cchb_1_bpputter__viewProd_putters.html” oemtext=”Learn more from Cleveland Golf” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NUS90HS/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00NUS90HS&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=LL76442OSHW2MNKK”]

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Mike J

    May 10, 2015 at 4:08 am

    Ron,
    In terms of “apples to apples”, would you say this is Cleveland’s equivalent of a Ping Karsten TR Anser 2? I know their is a 5g different in weight, but wanted your opinion.

    Thanks,
    Mike

  2. X

    Feb 28, 2015 at 4:37 am

    I live in Okinawa, Japan and just picked up this putter in left hand from the used section at 5 Golf Shop for 2,900 yen ($25). I give it 9/10 in condition. There isn’t a scratch on it! This putter feels great on my hands. I currently have an Odyssey in my bag, but I will giving the Cleveland lots of use. GO GET THIS PUTTER!! SACE SOME MONEY!!!

  3. Mark

    Jul 30, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    I got one the other day now when theirs a four mtr putt ppl say its in the cup I haven’t missed too many love this putter all I see is a white line that doesn’t miss and at the cup it goes love it

  4. Pingback: Cleveland Golf's HB1 Putter Big Add to Your Bag? - nextgengolf

  5. Jeff Moline

    Jun 5, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I’m heading to the golf store after work to pick up the HB 1. Matching it with either the Super Stroke 2.0 or 3.0. Thank you everyone for the great comments and recommendations.

  6. Frank

    May 2, 2014 at 7:20 am

    I am a Ping putter fan, hb1 far exceeded my expectations, I played 2 balls 2 putters. I like the heavier feel of the hb1 and very well balanced, sorry karsten! Hb1 is def a smart buy, ” livin large at half the price”

  7. JO

    Feb 2, 2014 at 12:29 am

    I purchased this putter earlier today at the DC Golf Show! I fell in love with it a few weeks ago at Golfsmith, and I was excited to see it reviewed so favorably on WRX.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Feb 19, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      I just returned from five rounds in Pinehurst and putted nearly lights-out with it. Great roll and perfect feel, which gave me great confidence.

  8. Pingback: Cleveland’s HB1 Putter Big Add to Your Bag? |

  9. Potty Cameron

    Jan 11, 2014 at 12:13 am

    That is a solid looking putter at a fraction of the cost of those overpriced cameron products. Sadly, people will continue to over pay for those camerons while potty cameron runs to the bank!

    • Ronald Montesano

      Jan 11, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      Potty Cameron,

      Thank you for your contribution. The putter feels as solid as it looks. As always, the right putter in the right hands is a dangerous weapon! If you save some money for green fees, bonus time!!

  10. Rob

    Jan 10, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I picked up an HB1 in satin chrome last year for about $80, and it was a pretty good buy. I put a Super Stroke mid-slim 2.0 grip on and it’s a steady putter overall. I agree that there really isn’t a hot spot or weak spot, but just a pretty good feel as long as you don’t heel it too badly.

    This is by no means a Scotty or any other $300+ putter, but it’s not bad on fast greens and a nice addition to the collection.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Jan 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      Key word is “collection.” Most golfers have experienced the ups and downs of a particular putter. They’re easy to swap in and out, and some people actually sell their used putters for us to buy. Nice price you got, Rob. Excellent observations.

  11. Ronald Montesano

    Jan 9, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    The voice of the people has spoken! Thanks, LiveWire, for your input. Simple, clean lines and off you go. Well said.

  12. A

    Jan 9, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Nice long-ish neck. Looks good. Their face milling feels awesome in everything, so this should be great.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Jan 9, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      I like those observations, A. The long neck distances the apparently-small-but-not-really club head from the eyes, giving it a bit more size. It’s in my bag!

  13. CB712

    Jan 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    It is a great putter Newport 2 style looks great! Way underrated!

    • Ronald Montesano

      Jan 9, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      I’d like to swing the chrome model, to see if its head looks larger than the black one. I suspect its appearance would confirm that supposition.

  14. Merty Huckle

    Jan 9, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    sightline only? No thanks.

  15. Joel

    Jan 9, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    I got the pretty similar black belly the other day to cut down for a “near belly” counterbalance thing, and just received my never compromise gambler flush the other day and I couldn’t be happier with both of them. Cleveland putters deserve way more credit then they often get, especially at the price they offer them.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Jan 9, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      Interesting tactic to employ, Joel. Keep us posted on how the cut-down works out. Agreed: can’t beat the price.

  16. LiveWire

    Jan 9, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Love this putter. I have 2 Cleveland putters, and 1 Sub 30. The craftsmanship, weight, and design of the classic is great. I’m not one for flashy or spaceship looking designs as I believe they detract from my putting. A design like this is perfect for admiring results not fancy milling or paint work.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Jan 10, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      The voice of the people has spoken! Thanks, LiveWire, for your input. Simple, clean lines and off you go. Well said.

    • Shep

      Mar 3, 2014 at 12:26 am

      I totally agree with you. I went and tried the cleveland smart square putter but I found myself focusing too much on the squares. I then tried the hb1 chrome. I liked it alot. I was more accurate and more focused on making contact with the ball.

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Putter Reviews

Review: Optic Z Putters

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Pros: Point-and-shoot putting. Optic Z putters use a Z-neck design that can lead to a more consistent setup with your hands and eyes on every putt.

Cons: It could take a little while to get used to the design.

Who It’s For: Players looking to develop a consistent setup and stroke.

The Review

  • Model: Optic Z8
  • Head Weight: 365 grams
  • Material: Proprietary “Power 51” Alloy
  • Finish: Black “High-Tech Molecular” application
  • Face Milling: Deep Double Mill
  • Stock Lie: 70.5 degrees (rolled sole allows angles from 67 to 75)
  • Loft: 2.25 degrees
  • Stock Length Options: 35 inches (All lengths available custom order)
  • Stock Grip: Lamkin E.B.L “Optic” grip (Custom grips available)
  • Stock Shaft: True Temper Steel (Aerotech, Loomis, and UST available)
  • Price: $325 Base (Up to $500 with custom options)

Over the past decade, it seems like there have been as many new putter companies as there have been drivers released in the past year (I think another one just released since I typed that sentence). While many of them have come up with ways to re-create or re-design the classic favorites of the past 40-plus years, there are a few companies that are pushing the boundaries of what a putter can be and how it can help make putting easier. And a company called Optic Z Putters has done just that.

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I reviewed the company’s Optic Z8 putter, which has a distinct batwing shape. It’s one of three putters the company offers — its Z3 is more blade-like in shape, while its Z7 is more mallet-like — and each putter sells for $325.

According to the company, Z Optic putters take the two main parts of putting and making them easy to reproduce. And with every putt, Optic Z putters are said to help golfers set their hands and eyes in the same exact position for every putt. “This has been done!” you say? Well, let’s find out if my experience with the Z8 was different.

The Look

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When I first saw the Z8 putter with its Z-shaped hosel, I began to wonder, “What exactly is going on here?” It has a unique Z-neck that creates a “3D” effect when looking down over the ball at address. But when looking at the putter in any other view, it does look odd. It will take a little bit of time to get used to it, but like many putters that come out these days, after a while you simply get used to it and forget about it.

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The putter is 100 percent milled, U.S.A. made, and has a deep “double” milled face pattern that is familiar to most people. It offers an incredibly soft feel that is part from the milling, but also from the Proprietary Power 51 alloy metal that is used. The sole of the Z8 has 8 degrees of roll to it. This means that it can effectively play with a lie angle anywhere from 67 to 75 degrees. The new Z-neck hosel also makes the putter face balanced as if it was a center-shafted putter. And finally, there are several thick alignment lines, both horizontal and vertical, to help aim.

The Z Revolution?

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Once you set the putter down and see how everything lines up in a “3D” type of alignment, you get the point of the Z-neck. Instead of just giving one point of reference similar to other putters, the Z8 gives you three points of alignment.

You align the Z-neck bend with the toe of the putter, the heel and shaft together, and then make sure both are lined up together. Once you have this set, your hands and eyes will be in the correct position.

Z8Putter6

In addition to adding more reference points, the key difference with the Z8 is that it actually requires you to have forward press with your hands. The stated loft of 2.25 degrees is the loft with your hands in that forward-press position. The Z-neck is also supposed to eliminate the visual moment of impact of when the ball comes off the face of the putter. The theory is that it helps you relax more through the stroke by not seeing the point of impact, a similar theory to looking at the hole instead of the ball when putting.

Does it work?

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I was skeptical of the putter when I first started using it, and it took me a little bit to get used to the 3D effect. After spending a good amount of time with it, I can say that it does what it is supposed to do. It really becomes a “point-and-shoot” kind of putting, and it makes the set up of putting incredibly easy. The ball rolls really well off the face, too, and the feel is incredibly soft. The alignment aids do a good job helping at address, and I’m someone who has moved away from alignment aids because I tend to aim them incorrectly.

The Optic Z8 putter performed the best for me on putts inside 10 feet. I struggled on longer putts, but it was more due to the weight of the putter. At 365 grams, it is much heavier compared to what I’ve been using, but I’ve always struggled with long-distance putting with heavier putters. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the performance. And the more I used it, the more comfortable I became and the more putts I made.

The Takeaway

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If you struggle with consistency, especially at set up, this is one to try. It may take some time to get used to Optic Z putters, but most golfers should be able to adjust. These putters are well made, feel great and can truly help golfers in two areas that we know are important to putting.

To learn more about Optic Golf’s putters, visit the company’s website

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Putter Reviews

Review: Directed Force Putters

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Pros: Stroke stability and consistency are likely to improve with a proper fitting. The putters also double as training aids for stroke tempo.

Cons: The looks, overall feel and forced-forward-press grip will likely take getting used to.

Who’s it for: Golfers seeking more stability in their stroke. If you don’t get fit properly, however, the technology will not reach its maximum potential.

The Review

DirectedForcePuttersOften times, great inventions are made out of necessity — a solution to a problem. That’s how Bill Presse, founder of Directed Force, developed his innovative putter technology. As a playing professional and teaching pro, he was frustrated by poor putting and needed a solution. Presse began building putters, and after “drilling holes in [putter] heads,” he figured out he could make a putter that stayed square to the putter path. His buddies were disbelievers, so he built “the revealer” to prove the technology — another invention born because of a problem.

Unlike most putters, which are either face-balanced or have what’s called “toe hang,” Directed Force putters ($399.95) are lie-angle balanced. That means the putter face stays straight (or perpendicular) to the putter path throughout the stroke, which is ideal in theory. And serious golfers across the globe have spent countless hours trying to improve their ability to keep their putter face perpendicular to their path during their stroke.

Can this new putter technology provide a shortcut? Watch the video below to see it in action.

Presse’s technology is effective for golfers because of the importance of the face angle at impact. According to findings from SAM PuttLab, the face angle at impact determines 83 percent of a putt’s initial starting direction, and is thus about 5 times more important than putter path.

Here’s how they’re made.

DirectedForcePutters5

The company first forges the putter heads from 6061 aircraft aluminum, then CNC-milled to the proper shape and finishes them with a type-3 anodized coating. It’s important to note that lie-angle balance is not achieved because of the outlandish head shape, which is the immediate assumption, but rather due to the location of the shaft relative to the center of gravity (CG) in the club head. To dial in the specific lie angle of each putter — which are weighted differently depending on a putter’s lie angle, length and grip — weights are installed on each side of the putter face (toe and heel), as well as on the sole. It’s those weights, in conjunction the putter’s shaft position, that give the putters their “lie-angle balance.”

DirectedForcePutters4

Not only does the head shape look, well… weird, but the grip is unconventional, too. But there’s science behind it, as well. Watch the video below to learn more about the PressGrip, developed by Presse, and how it works.

The putter shaft runs through the PressGrip at 3 degrees, instead of straight in (or 0), placing the putter in a forward-press position without the golfer’s hands moving forward of center. This allows the golfer to choke down or up on the grip without losing lie angle, and since the grip is made with a constant taper, changing hand positions doesn’t affect the feel of the grip.

The PressGrip comes in two sizes: Mid-Size (1.250 inches) and Large (1.375 inches), and can be purchased separately for $29.95.

Directed Force’s putter technologies are not dependent on the PressGrip, however, so the putters can be made with the aftermarket grip of your choice. Presse says the grip size and weight affect weighting in the head, so make sure to factor that in during your purchase.

Does it work?

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First off, the grip feels very different at first, even for someone who forward presses their putter. It’s the first thing most golfers comment on when they try it for the first time. And while it can feel strange, all it takes is a few strokes to get used to it. After that, you’ll be disappointed going back to a normal putter grip — at least I was.

The second thing someone will comment on is the head shape… obviously. It’s a lot of putter head to look at, and the shape is far from conventional. That being said, different doesn’t mean bad in this case.

DirectedForcePutters6

This putter has one of those, you’re-just-along-for-the-ride feels, and seems to swing itself. For yippers or those who struggle with short putts, those are great words to hear. And due to the displacement of so much weight well behind the face, it has a very high moment of inertia (MOI). That means it hardly matters whether you hit it off the toe, heel or center of the face. The putter allows you — and I have confirmed this — to hit 30+ foot putts dead off the heel or toe without much, or any, noticeable affect on distance or direction.

Because of its reliance on lie-angle balance, the technology won’t be as beneficial if the putter isn’t fit to your lie angle. So make sure — if you’re seriously interested in buying a Directed Force putter — you get fit by a Directed Force Fitter, or do a Remote Fitting with Directed Force, which cost $30 but comes with a $30 discount code if you choose to purchase the putter.

The Numbers

So how do Directed Putters perform? We tested them with two golfers on SAM PuttLab, each of which was fit remotely for Directed Force putters several weeks before the test.

  • Tester 1 was me, a former college golfer and now a 1-handicap, weekend player. I’ve used the same off-the-rack Anser-style putter for the last two years, and only practiced with a Directed Force for about 30 minutes at the PGA Merchandise, which is where we discovered the putters.
  • Tester 2 was GolfWRX’s Zak Kozuchowski, our editor and resident professional golfer. He was recently fit for his gamer, an 8802-style, in the fall by another putter company.

Tester 1: Gamer

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Tester 1: Directed Force

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Tester 1 Data Analysis

  • Consistency improved on average with Directed Force putter (98 percent versus 90 percent with gamer).
  • Face rotated less with Directed Force putter on average.
  • Putter path was more neutral with Directed Force putter on average (3.5 degrees left versus 3.9 degrees with gamer).
  • Putter path improved with Directed Force putter (56 percent consistency versus 52 percent consistency with the gamer).
  • Rise angle was higher with gamer putter (1.6 degrees up versus 1.0 up with the Directed Force).

Tester 2: Gamer

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Tester 2: Directed Force

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Tester 2 Data Analysis

  • Putter path consistency improved with Directed Force on average (95 percent versus 87 percent with gamer).
  • Putter path was 2.3 degrees left with the Directed Force on average, but much more neutral with gamer putter (only 0.5 degrees left).
  • Rise angle was less downward with the gamer (1.1 degrees down) versus 2.6 degrees down with the Directed Force putter on average.
  • Face rotation consistency was better with the gamer on average (93 percent versus 89 percent with the Directed Force)
  • The face rotated less throughout the stroke with the Directed Force on average, and was less closed at impact on average (0.6 degrees versus 1 degree).

The numbers show a rise in consistency for both golfers when using the Directed Force putter compared to gamers. Tester 1, who had little experience with the putter, struggled with alignment, and both players hit more “down” on their putts with the Directed Force, most likely due to the forced forward press.

Therefore, it appears that the Directed Force putters can immediately add consistency to a golfer’s stroke, although it is likely that it will take time for golfers to truly optimize their putting with them.

The Takeaway

DirectedForcePutters7

If you’re going to try a Directed Force putter, make sure you get fit for it. It’s designed to work with your specific lie angle, and isn’t going to be as effective as it could be if it’s more than a few degrees off.

The oversize putter head’s feel and the grip could be a shock to many golfer’s systems, but after just a few putts most golfers will find that they’re no longer even noticing the odd-shaped putter head. And while the setup and stroke that the putter encourages may take some time to master, the benefits are fruitful.

Based on our testing, there’s no question golfers can improve the consistency of their strokes with a Directed Force putter, which is a rare thing to be able to say.

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Putter Reviews

Review: Toulon Design Putters

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Pros: Toulon putters offer clean, classic lines. Exceptional feel and matching sound. Adjustable sole plates allow for custom head weights.

Cons: Only available in RH and polished stainless-steel (for now). Prices start at $399.

Who they’re for: All golfers, especially those true enthusiasts, collectors, and competitive players looking for something new and unique.

The Review

For this review, I tested a Toulon San Diego putter. The specs are listed below. 

  • Weight: 352 grams (head)
  • Material: 303 stainless steel
  • Finish: Tour Satin Mist
  • Face Milling: Deep Diamond
  • Stock Lie/Loft: 71 degrees/3 degrees
  • Stock Length Options: 33-35 inches
  • Stock Grip: Lamkin Deep Etch (also available in charcoal or gray add $10; and SuperStroke Pistol GT Tour or Mid-Slim 2.0 add $20)

Along with the five different models (San Diego, Madison, San Francisco, Rochester and Memphis), Toulon Design Putters are also available in two counter-balanced options: Moderate Release (MR) and Aggressive Release (AR) for $459 and $499, respectively.

From a young age, I have primarily sifted my way through putters designed around the modern blade with the L-shaped hosel. Whether it be a Ping Anser 2 or Scotty Cameron Newport 1995 First Run, some of those putters have hung around, while most have not with a destination unknown. Call me stuck in the past, but apart from occasionally fiddling with the latest and greatest mallet, I have remained loyal to this classic style.

Given that tendency, I was understandably thrilled and equally excited to review the “San Diego” from a new putter company known as Toulon Design. Incidentally, my San Diego was built with a 345-gram putter head and additional 7-gram aluminum plate. The loft was 3 degrees, the lie was 70 degrees and without a grip it measured 34 inches. The overall weight was 541 grams and the swing weight was D4.

Started in 2015, but currently launching its initial stable of putters (Madison, San Diego, Rochester, San Francisco, and Memphis) over the coming months, Toulon Design has set it sights on making the best performance putters in the world, with looks to match that lofty goal. The company is based in Vista, California, and it was started by Sean Toulon, formerly involved with TaylorMade Golf for 16 years in product creation and design, and his sons, Tony and Joe. The founding principles of the company being mentorship, collaboration, and making putters with the serious golf enthusiast in mind — but all players welcome.

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Sean Toulon (pictured)

Upon cracking the box open to take my first look at the San Diego built for me, it was clear that Toulon Design has taken the time to painstakingly build something that any equipment lover should try. If you are the type of person who says, “I’m a golfer” when asked at a cocktail party what do you like to do in your free time, then seriously check out Toulon Design ASAP. The technology behind this initial line of putters, including the San Diego, is simply the icing on the cake. A review can not honestly do justice to what Toulon Design is attempting to create, which is a company satisfied with being no less than extraordinary.

Classic Look

Beautiful and timeless in its clean lines, the San Diego pushed all the rights buttons for me from the outset. It has a dark charcoal alignment mark that somehow seemed superior both cosmetically and technically in my eyes, especially given the satin mist finish of the putter. While Toulon is opening its “Garage” in May 2016 in an effort to provide its customers with the full “Tour experience” and a variety of options (not readily available for most putters), I chose the stock Lamkin Deep Etch emblazoned with the Toulon Design logo.

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Before I even hit a putt, it felt like this putter was destined to make its way into my golf bag. What’s truly difficult to communicate in words is the attention detail that was evident in closely examining the San Diego. Toulon Design utilizes what is known as vacuum brazing (through the “Big Green Egg” above) to fuse the putter head and hosel in a manner that makes it feel and look as if those parts of the putter were always one in the same. Everything just simply felt and looked right.

Matching Sound and Feel

Possibly the most important aspect of the technology behind Toulon Design putters (including, the San Diego) is the concept of matching sound and feel with launch conditions of your golf ball. It may seem strange, but this concept is effectively untapped in the industry at present. As Toulon explains, “Sound and feel are totally intertwined. And those two things create the expectation of the distance the ball will travel for the golfer.” In other words, when sound and feel are successfully synced, it is easier to correlate and control distance in putting; not surprisingly, when things are off, controlling distance becomes much more difficult. Can you say 3-putt?

I’ve been playing golf for 30 years and I honestly can’t recall a putter that felt or sounded better. Again, words can’t properly describe it, but for me, uphill putts are particularly revealing and my expectation for putts hit with the San Diego closely aligned with my actual result. When I hit any putt (though, in particular, an uphill putt of 20+ feet), the feedback was immediate and in that regard I was able to quickly adjust to the speed and conditions of the greens on which I was playing or practicing. Put differently, I didn’t feel as if I was guessing from putt to putt (which happens) and instead, I was able to trust what I was hearing and feeling.

Diamonds in the Rough

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The face milling pattern is also unique to Toulon Design, and the product of not only the creativity of its design team, but its relentless pursuit of something better. The goal was to achieve a crisp, yet soft feel as the result of a putter face that would create gentle (rather than aggressive) overspin on the ball at the point of impact. Inspired by the tread pattern on car tires, Toulon Design putters use what is referred to as a “Deep Diamond Mill” pattern. Within each diamond is a separate groove (or “eyelid,” as I refer to it), which minimizes the opportunity for your golf ball to climb up the putter face upon contact. The result being, to date, a reasonable, yet appropriate amount of forward roll immediately after impact.

My experience is that everything matches up almost perfectly. And rather than a ball coming hot off the face with an almost uncontrollable amount of forward roll, Toulon Design putters (and in my case, the San Diego) produce roll that allows for consistency, especially from beyond 20 feet.

Performance on the Green

It is certainly 9-plus out of 10 for me. The technology, coupled with the classic look and attention to detail, which is evident, make the San Diego an easy putter to love. What makes it easy to use is the feedback it provides by eliminating much of the confusion (that I’ve had with other putters) when hitting putts expecting a certain result and not getting it. The by-product of which is not being able to harmonize the feel and sound in order to gain consistency. In short, I have yet to feel as if I needed to guess with this putter. No, I do not make everything, but I actually feel like I have a very good chance on almost every putt I hit because I am confident that my stroke will match with the speed and distance I need to hit any given putt. And this is especially true from inside 10 feet.

Overall, the San Diego is worth every penny and Toulon Design is committed to making putters for golfers and golf enthusiasts that will make a difference in your game. There’s no question its an investment, but one you won’t regret.

I have yet to take advantage of the adjustable weighted sole plates (I absolutely plan on it), but in the near future (May 2016) you will be able to purchase from Toulon’s Garage the 7-gram aluminum plate, 20-gram stainless steel plate and 40-gram tungsten plate, as they are interchangeable in every Toulon Design putter. In doing so, you will easily be able to vary the putter head weight from 352 grams to 365 grams to 385 grams.

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Don’t overlook Toulon Design when looking for a new putter in 2016, and with five models to choose from there’s probably one for you.

To learn more about the company and its products, visit toulondesign.com. 

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