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Putter Reviews

TaylorMade Ghost Manta Belly Putter Review

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by member SheriffBooth

TESTED:
TaylorMade Ghost Manta Belly Putter 47”

PLAYER PROFILE:
Age:35 Ht: 6’4” Wt: 185
Yrs Playing: 20
Hcp: 3.4
My game: I was scratch as recently as 2007, but work, marriage and children are slowly eroding my handicap, as is want to happen. But this is mostly due to chipping and putting, not poor ball striking or driving.

WHAT TAYLORMADE SAYS:
EASY ALIGNMENT AND FANTASTIC FORGIVENESS IN A SIMPLE SHAPE.
Features:
Rich and more durable white finish eliminates glare; high contrast with turf makes aiming easy.
New large performance mallet shape promotes great feel and excellent stability on mis-hits.
PureRoll Surlyn face insert promotes forward spin for a smooth, accurate roll and beautiful soft feel.
Dual alignment lines frame the ball, making aiming easy while maintaining a clean and simple appearance.

PROS:
Easy to align
Great contrast with green surface
Face insert puts a smooth roll on the ball
Adjustable sole weight for customization
Great looking headcover.

CONS:
Stock weight a little heavy
Stock grip a little slick
Face insert maybe too soft and muted for some

LOOKS (4.5*):
Out of the box the putter looks great. The white finish has almost no gloss at all and to the touch feels like perhaps its some type of powder coating. The total Ghost package looks really sharp and well put together from the Winn pebble grip down to the perforated leather (or leather-like) and sheepskin (or sheepskin-like) headcover. I’ve read complaints about theManta tending to flop open because of the sole design, and I’ve noticed this in standard length versions, but this belly version soles square and definitely does not flip open like I’ve experienced with its shorter sisters.

PERFORMANCE (4.5*):
On the green the Manta puts a very nice roll on the ball. I would say the roll grooves have an impact on slightly longer putts and that the ball rolling more quickly in the first 4 or 5 feet after impact is noticeable. The putter is also extremely easy to align. I think this is the by far the best implementation of the Ghost concept in a putter yet. The white body with the black lines is fantastic and I’m not a fan at all of the other Ghost Tour putters.

The putter shines, as it should, on putts inside of 10 feet. If you like easy alignment and consistent rolls then this is a putter to try. It doesn’t read the green for you, but it does most everything else. My version right now is a little heavier than I would like, but that’s going to be easy to fix with a simple weight change.

The bottom line for me is that this is the easiest putter on the market to align, and once I get the grip and weight squared away with a couple of tweaks I’m expecting to make a lot of putts this summer.

FEEL (3.5*):
The pebble grain Winn grip is just okay. There is a reason that almost every pro on tour is using the same red and black Winn wrap belly putter grip – it’s very good. That grip is very smooth, but also very tacky. The Ghost Manta’s grip is a little bit softer and squishier than the more common Winn, and the pebbles also make the grip more slippery. If the Manta is going to become my #1, it will need a grip change to match my Odyssey.

I think the face insert will be a mixed bag for a lot of players, especially if you are used to an all steel head. The Manta’s surlyn face has a very soft and muted feel, even when compared to current Odyssey or Ping inserts. Because the head is so heavy and the face so soft, there is very low feedback. But then again, the Manta isn’t being sold to the Loren Roberts and Brad Faxons of the world and many will appreciate this softness. My personal preference would have been for a slightly crisper feel, but the feel did not alter the performance.

PLAYTEST:
I’ve been putting with a belly putter since January of this year. I started my belly experiment with an older Odyssey XG SRT Mid that I had extended from 43” to 47” due to my height. I had a pretty unpleasant yip problem that started around 2003 and had pretty much made short putting a nightmare for 8 years. I switched to the claw grip in 2011 (thanks to a tip from Hank Haney) and this was working well for me, but belly putters are hot and I thought I’d give one a try during the offseason. It took me about 4 practice sessions and 3 full rounds to get used to it, but once I got it dialed in I’ve really enjoyed it. I can’t say that it’s revolutionized my putting, but it’s definitely given me a boost of confidence especially on 3 and 4 footers.

So now the Ghost Manta. TaylorMade built mine at 47” straight from the factory, so I got to test with the stock Ghost grip. Mine came built with a 25g sole weight, which is changeable and I’m supposing that this is the stock weight but I don’t know for sure. Fitting is the most important part of belly putting, so if you buy a Manta belly off the rack you may need to have a shop adjust the length up or down for you or order the length custom.

In the three rounds that I’ve used the Manta, I can say for certain that it is very consistent and confidence inspiring on short putts. For a belly putter, this is an absolute first hurdle. On longer putts, I found the ball to roll out a little bit more than I was used to, which I think is a combination of the slightly heavier weight of the head and the PureRoll face. On very long putts the head weight and grip combined to create some looseness in my stroke; distance control was just fine but keeping the head on a consistent swing path was a little more challenging.

The appearance and alignment of the putter is the trump card for me, and I’m looking forward to making a few tweaks and hopefully getting the Manta dialed in.

CLICK HERE TO DISCUSS THIS REVIEW OF THE TAYLORMADE MANTA IN THE FORUMS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GolfWRX Tech Talk with Mike Fox of TaylorMade:

[youtube id=”E7asB_gN3aI” width=”600″ height=”350″]

WHAT TAYLORMADE SAYS:
EASY ALIGNMENT AND FANTASTIC FORGIVENESS IN A SIMPLE SHAPE.
Features:
Rich and more durable white finish eliminates glare; high contrast with turf makes aiming easy.
New large performance mallet shape promotes great feel and excellent stability on mis-hits.
PureRoll Surlyn face insert promotes forward spin for a smooth, accurate roll and beautiful soft feel.
Dual alignment lines frame the ball, making aiming easy while maintaining a clean and simple appearance.

 

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Rob is a golf junkie that has been involved with GolfWRX since its inception in 2005. From designing headcovers, to creating logos to authoring articles to social media management to sales and marketing, Rob has done it all. Born and bred in NJ. Favorite golfers: Phil, Freddie. Favorite club: Driver.

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Equipment

WRX Spotlight: Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter

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Product: Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter

Pitch: From Odyssey/Toulon: “The Odyssey Toulon San Diego Stroke Lab Putter is our take on on another classic putter. It’s an expertly crafted, premium milled blade, with our multi-material Stroke Lab Shaft, deep diamond milled cross hatch grooves, and a new Charcoal Smoke finish.”

Our take on the Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter

Toulon is the line of all milled putters from Odyssey, originally started by club designer Sean Toulon and his sons. Toulon putters have always featured their Deep Diamond Mill face, adjustable sole weight, and brazed (instead of welded) necks. That combination has created a great putter line that has become popular on tour as well as us amateur players. For 2019, there are some new head shapes, Charcoal Smoke Finish, Deep Diamond Milling across the whole face, and the Stroke Lab putter shaft.

I got my hands on the Toulon San Diego, a more squared-off blade shape, for this review. The shape, milling, and finish on the San Diego are great and really show off what a high quality piece it is. The biggest change visually is the full Deep Diamond Mill face, making the view from address more uniform. The face used to have the milling only in the center of the face and to some that was a distracting look while others liked the way it framed the ball. The new finish also looks great. I always have liked darker finishes and this looks high end while still reducing glare in the brightest conditions.

The Stroke Lab shaft goes well with the finish on the San Diego and the head cover is a plush synthetic leather that feels like it will hold up for years of use.

On the green the San Diego SL has a crisp sound and feel. If you like a little more click to your putter, then the San Diego SL will be right what you are looking for. And don’t take that as a negative thing, that crisp feel gives great feedback on face contact. You know exactly where the putter face and ball met by the sound and feel. The Deep Diamond Mill gets the ball rolling quickly on line with very minimal hop and skid, providing very consistent and repeatable distance control.

This is blade, so shots off the toe to tend to stray from your intended line a bit, the face does seem like it wants to rotate open a bit. Heel strikes defiantly stay online better, but tend to lose more steam and net get the roll out you might expect. The simple alignment line on the flange of the putter is easy to align, even for a guy who has been using mallets for years.

Like I have said before, I think there is something to the Stroke Lab tech, the lighter shaft and weight in the butt of the shaft do affect tempo for me; I noticed a slight calming of my backstroke and stroke through the ball.

Overall, the San Diego is a great putter for those who like a little firmer feel and more audible click on their putter. It is very responsive and putts a great roll on the ball. This isn’t a cheap putter ($450) and the fit and finish let you know that you are getting what you paid for.

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Putter Reviews

WRX Spotlight Review: Miura MGP-NM1 Putter

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Product: Miura MGP-NM1 putter

Pitch: Limited to 300 pieces, the Miura MGP-NM1 is Miura’s first 303 stainless steel putter. Its appearance is in keeping with the bolder designs of the Miura Giken family.

Our take on the Miura MGP-NM1 putter

Miura Giken has become the brand where Miura can push some limits and try out designs and technology not really fit for the standard Miura line. And if doing something new and different is what Miura Giken is about, then the MGP-NM1 fits like a glove. When most people think of Miura, they think forged carbon steel and traditional, old school shapes. The MGP-NM1 is a long ways from that, being milled from 303 stainless steel, having adjustable weights and milled stepped pockets in the sole.

If you love mill marks, then the MBG-NM1 will fulfill all our needs because the head is covered with them. I really liked the top line where the mill marks go front to back but then get much finer around the alignment line. If you look close the milling is still there, but just much finer. It works great along with the alignment lines on the “fangs.” The MGP-NM1 is a great size: large enough to give you confidence that a mishit will stay online, but not too big to be distracting. Like most putters with this (Odyssey No. 7)  shape, it frames the ball really well and looks great to my eye. The way the shaft goes into the head is for sure unique, it is straight from address but does drop down into the head.

I will get my one con on this putter out of the way early: the way the shaft goes into the head from address. I love the shape of the head, but the way the shaft enters the head makes it harder for me to line up. At address you can see the the top line of the putter on both sides of the shaft and for some that might be helpful, but it took me a long time to get comfortable with my alignment. Also, the head cover isn’t up to standard for a putter in this price range.

But the good of this putter really outweighs that bad. The putter  feels and sounds great, much like the Miura KM-009 reviewed previously. Feel is very solid with, to me, the perfect amount of click on impact. There might be just a slight bit of vibration on contact, but very minimal and will probably vary with the ball you play. Contact on the toe and heel really stay on target well; you can tell this mallet has a fairly high MOI. Like any responsive putter should do, this really provides good feedback on mishits. Toe and heel shots are not punished as much as you would think, the ball still rolls out well with minimal distance loss. That solid, soft Miura feel really does come through with this putter.

Overall, I think the Miura Giken MGP-NM1 is a really great way for a mallet user to put a Miura putter into the bag.

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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.

Z8Putter4

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

back optic z8

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.

Z8putter1

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?

3WayAlignment_grande

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?

Z8Putter5

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

Z8putter

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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