The Big Review – Yes! Golf Donna Putter

by   |   April 23, 2008

Winners of two majors and countless US and European PGA titles, Yes! Golf putters are a common sight in the bags of both professionals and amateurs.

As well as being one of the acknowledged inventors of grooved faces on putters, Yes! were also one of the first putter manufacturers to make heavier putters available to retail. A grooved face on a putter stops the ball skidding and bouncing in the first few feet after impact, a common cause of misses even on for putts that are struck on line, while the heavier head promotes a smoother and more consistent putting stroke.

Yes! Golf’s proprietary C-grooves get the ball rolling faster by simultaneously lifting the ball out of its resting place and imparting top spin. Normally a putter would need 4 or more degrees of loft to lift the ball out of the dent that it makes on the green and this loft produces a small but significant amount of backspin. While this sounds a little implausible, you need to understand that when a stationary golf ball is hit, it takes a little distance before it is rolling across the surface of the green. During this time, the ball will catch any imperfections on the green and move offline then when the ball is rolling normally as it is able to roll over the top of any tiny obstacles.

With the C-grooves, the ball is forced upwards even on a flat strike due to the grooves having a 20 degree upward slant. This means that Yes! putters can have much less loft on them than you would normally see, typically around 2 to 3 degrees. While this might seem like so much technical guff, the proof of the effectiveness of grooves can be seen on the putting green and by the fact that other manufacturers like TaylorMade and Gel are also putting grooves on the faces of their putters.

Prior to hybrid designs like the Donna, golfers were forced to choose between the easier to align (and consequently more accurate) anser style putter and the more forgiving and normally higher MOI mallet putter. The Donna is designed to be the best of both worlds, combining the styling of an anser with the high MOI of a mallet.

The Donna is not only a hybrid in terms of its design but also in the materials used in its creation, as the face is made from aircraft grade aluminium and the body from 304 stainless steel. With the 355 gram head weight, it is this combination of a light face and a heavy back that gives the Donna its high MOI.

Appearance

With the curved double bend shaft and the ‘Titanium Carbon’ finish it looks very good and the grooves have been anodized to increase resistance to wear and corrosion. The depth from front to back of the putter is a little disconcerting at first, especially if you have been used to a normal cavity back anser style putter, but it soon becomes more than acceptable to the eye. The double bend shaft makes the head sit very nicely and the headcover is also a top quality piece of kit with the magnetic closer being both easy and secure.

Technical Specifications

Toe hang: Face balanced
Loft: 2.5 degrees
Weight: 355g
Offset: Full shaft
Lie: 72 degrees (+2 or -2 lies available)
Right and Left handed
Shaft length: 32-37 inches
Finish: Titanium Carbon with Anodized Grooves
Grip: Winn
RRP: $300/£185

Feel

The aluminium face is a little more muted than you find with stainless or carbon steel putters, and the sweetspot is also a little lower on the face than typically found presumably due to the the extreme weighting being so low and far back in the head. More than any other putter we have tried at Bag Chatter, there is a surprising difference in feedback when using premium balls and budget balls. More than just a sound issue where a budget ball is ‘clickier’ than a premium one, feedback from harder balls is much reduced. Presumably this is due to the amount of time the ball spends on the grooves on the face, so if you are thinking of trying this putter out make sure that you do so with the balls that you normally play with. Irrespective of what ball you use the Donna gives a very good level of feedback on both centered and off centre putts but it really comes alive with premium balls in a way that it doesn’t with budget ones. The Yes! branded Winn grip is also top notch.

Performance

Accuracy and Easy of Alignment

The combination of the heavier head, the high MOI and the C-groove technology make it almost cheating on straight putts. It’s as close as you’re going to get to putting on rails. Six, eight, ten or even twelve foot putts can be repeatably jammed in the cup with impressive regularity. As you can see from the image on the right, it’s also very easy to set up due to the blade-like shape. Due to the resistance to twisting off-centre strikes still hold their line and the heavier head means little loss of distance, offering a much better chance of getting the ball in the hole for those times when you don’t hit the ball as sweetly as you’d like.

Distance Control

One effect of the grooved face is that due to the increased initial rotation of the ball, a putt will often leave the face of the putter more slowly than normal but then continue to roll out as far – if not slightly further – as a normal putt. Suddenly you find yourself replicating those gorgeously smooth ground hugging putts the professionals do with the ball seeming to want to be sucked into the hole. Once you get used to the slower start, distance control is a cinch especially at that dangerous 20-30 foot range where you know you should safely get down in two but that a bad first attempt would leave you struggling to avoid a 3 putt. One note of caution though – at shorter distances you really need to trust the putter to swing through and allow the ball time to come off the face. Because of the increased rollout from an initial slow speed, the tendency is to get a little ‘jabby’ on 3 and 4 footers where you try to poke the ball into the hole. If you are not careful, the heavier head and topspin supplied by the C-grooves will have the ball zipping through any break and leaving you with an uncomfortable putt back. This is nothing to do with any flaw of the putter but more the difference in mechanics with a grooved face/heavier head putter. Once you get used to the initial slow speed and stop worrying that you will commit the cardinal sin of leaving a short putt short, the Donna makes holing out exceptionally easy.

Conclusion

For those with a SBST (Straight Back, Straight Through) putting stroke and even those with a slight arc, the Donna is a superb option as it offers great accuracy and distance control. The C-grooves have a definite effect in getting the ball rolling across the green and the head weight makes for a reassuring smooth stroke. Definitely one to try.

3 Comments

  1. Eric

    November 20, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    My head pro told me to try his new “Donna” putter from Yes! His was cut to 31″ so I really had to bend over it uncomfortably, BUT THIS THING FELT GREAT. Good enough that I went to the Yes! store and picked one up. It seemed to have great distance control, and isn’t that what’s important?

    I’m gaming it tomorrow so we’ll see if it makes a permanent home in the bag. I am an arc putter so we’ll see how this heavy face-balanced putter works in that style..

  2. Scott

    September 19, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    I absolutely concur with your review assessment! BEAUTIFUL fit and finish, a solid feel, and a putt that tracks like it’s on rails!

    I also noticed that the ball seems to roll farther on a similar stroke to my Callaway Tour Blue 3, which takes some getting used to, but the incredible feel and tracking provided by this putter makes it my NEW favorite!

  3. Gabe

    August 13, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Just bought this putter and I love it! Seriously, try any of the Yes! model putters and you will see a difference immediately. Great company.

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