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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?

DirectedForcePutters3

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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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team while earning a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. BigE

    Apr 25, 2017 at 4:58 am

    I’ve noticed a number of sidesaddle comments here. I’m a sidesaddle putter too. I’d love to give this putter a try at some time. My worry is the weight of the head (350g I think?). Most SS putters tend to run a little heavier IMHO to promote the more pendulum stroke. Plus, I suffer from a bit of the “tremors” in my hands and so need more weight to steady the putter head. I know I could add the weight myself (lead tape etc) – but am then worried the I would reduce the lie angle balance if even only a bit. Maybe a future design could allow for adding weight (plugs etc)? Great design and great idea. But I’m worried about spending $400+ for a putter that might be too light for me.

  2. Bill Presse IV

    Oct 30, 2016 at 5:07 am

    Hey guys ! I just want to say thanks for all the buzz and honest comments…brad purrer, very sorry about your experience. Going forward you can contact me personally bill at directedforce dot com. And mention this thread and I’ll remember who you are, maybe I can make things right or at least try. Also for the record I do remember playing with Shane, the guy is a pretty stick already. When I play with strangers I’ll offer them the use of a demo putter for the round. He play it on the front nine snd also didn’t putt very well either. So on ten I said ‘hey man just play one holes with it and tell me what you think’ he said ‘ok’ … the guy made just about everything he looked at. As the inventor it was really fun to watch his eyes light up and being stoked to grab it out of his bag. I thought it was a fluke, but them about a week later he joined us for another round at the club I play at, so I gave him the same putter to use again. If I hadn’t seen with my own eyes I’d have to question but again he drained everything inside 10 ten feet or so and dropped a couple bombs too. Glad I wasn’t betting him lol

  3. Joe Duffer

    Aug 12, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    Have you considered making a side-saddle (face-on) model of this putter? If you do, I would recommend designing a narrower face (heel to toe) to address clearance issues. Thx

  4. Barney

    Jun 27, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Some of my acquaintances at golf course used these oddly shaped golf putter, i cant ever imagine me holding these any time soon. But in the future, i might give it a try

  5. pomo207

    Jun 7, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    I bought this putter at the trade show and had the privilege of being “fit” by the designer Bill Presse. The putter is odd looking and takes awhile getting used to. Once you do get use to it watch out. I won my clubs two man event this past weekend and I made everything I looked at. If I didn’t make I burned the edge or left it just short. This putter is worth every penny.

  6. Hitting The Golf Ball

    Jun 3, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    This looks awesome. And what a detailed review! Thanks.

  7. bad purrer

    May 30, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    tried to order one but the company reps suck…weeks and weeks I wait for a response…..this is a fly by night pos, no way am I spending 400 bucks with these losers.

    • James Wilson

      Jun 1, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      Are you sure you are looking at the correct website? I placed an order and received an order confirmation email immediately. When I called and left a message I received a phone call back from the company about 2 days later letting me know there was a back order. Of course I am a bit disappointed that I have to wait, but back in the mid 80’s it was a 3 month wait for a set of Eye 2 irons. They were worth the wait, and I am positive that this will be as well. Good luck to you, and I hope you find a putter that you can putt well with. I am thinking your post is simply a troll post…

    • Bill Presse IV

      Oct 30, 2016 at 5:14 am

      Please read post I made above , thanks and sorry will try to fix it

  8. JML65

    Mar 28, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    I just ordered one. The technology looks pretty legit to me.

  9. Eye4golf

    Mar 22, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    Living in Albuquerque,NM is there anywhere close I can get fitted and demo one, Scottsdale is a drive but I go down there once in a while so who’s the fitter?

    • 54ispossible

      Mar 23, 2016 at 10:41 am

      Send an email to chris@directedforce.com. He is the Director of Tournament Player Relations and lives in the Phoenix area. He is usually able to provide fittings on the weekends in the phoenix area.

  10. Lance

    Mar 22, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Looks like axis 1 technology with different look and grip.

  11. Large chris

    Mar 22, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Have to admit this is intriguing…. Think I will play around with an old centre shafted putter and some lead tape in the garage and see if I can achieve this same lie angle balance effect.

    • Bill Presse Senior

      Apr 5, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      LC put your reconstructed old putter in the Revealer to ensure it is
      Lie Angle Balanced.

  12. Betheballdanny

    Mar 22, 2016 at 2:25 am

    ParMan is right, it’s stupid good. I now own about 30 obsolete putters. I took one of my anser style putters out the other day thinking it would be fun roll again like I used to do rotating putters in and out. Now I’ve got some real puuuurty putters in the stable so I took out one of my finest (not going to name names) and had hi hopes thinking I’d like it and put good. I rolled a few times and couldn’t believe I used to think it was solid or accurate for that matter. It’s just not a fair fight, the DF has raised the bar on how a putter should perform.

  13. Dan

    Mar 22, 2016 at 12:29 am

    I just need a laser sight and i can consistently 3 putt.

  14. cocheese

    Mar 21, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    Mike,

    Where did you get fit for the putter in Scottsdale? I don’t see a fitter in the area listed on their website.

    Thanks!

  15. 54ispossible

    Mar 21, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    I have a video of the backstrike in the revealer. It fails to stay square like all others.

  16. Ronnie

    Mar 21, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    The Backstryke actually fails in the revealer and does not compare with the technology in the Directed Force Putter.

  17. Mark

    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    So what happens when you hold this putter horizontally and check the toe hang amount? Does it rest like a face balanced putter or does it have some toe hang? Just wondering…

    I think I really want the “revealer” first and see how my putters stack up (all modified, none are “conventional”).

    • Bill Presse Senior

      Apr 5, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      Hi Mark,
      Our development focus has been on developing a putter when held in a putting position, not when held horizontally or vertically.
      So the putter is not face, toe, nor heel balanced when held horizontally. Cause holding a putter horizontally does not mean a thing when you are putting. It is LIE ANGLE BALANCED, which means that when held and then swung in a putting stroke, the face stays square to the arc by itself. Thus eliminating so much use of the small twitch muscles in the hands, wrists and forearms.

  18. Betheballdanny

    Mar 21, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    This putter is like the prom date that puts out, a lot of par savers and birdie putts, may not be the best looking one at the party but starts to get really good looking when the putts drop. I saw someone mention an Oddesey Backstryke ha I have one of those and it’s junk compared to this putter, not even in the same ball park. It took me about one round to realize that I could relax and just pull it back and go. My DF has paid for itself countless times in skins games and playing with the boyz this last summer. Index 2

  19. Dave

    Mar 21, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    I’m sorry, I just couldn’t play it.

  20. Scott Mohn

    Mar 21, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Due to a tremor in my left hand, I still use the 50″ putter, side saddle. Do they have a 50″ model?

  21. Joe

    Mar 21, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Good review. Thanks.

  22. Mike howland

    Mar 21, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    I was fit for one when I was out in Scottsdale with a buddy and met one of the reps. The $400 is less than what you spend on a driver and having a putter that literally reduced my putts per round by 4.5 strokes, it is a no brainer. I got rid of the grip and putt a super strike on it – just couldn’t adjust to the feel/shape and it clicked. It’s not the sexiest by any stretch, but it flat out performs and will save you strokes. ~or~ you can go dump $400 on a Scotty and keep missing them but look pretty. I traded my hand made Piretti for it and then sold the Scotty X5 after 2 rounds. Zero 3 putts.

    • 54ispossible

      Mar 21, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      Glad you like it Mike! We will have to tee it up next time I’m in Houston!

      Chris

  23. 2Short

    Mar 21, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Interesting that they didn’t ‘spin’ any other branded center shafted putters with that gizmo. Of course the axix is off with a non center shafted putter if you spin it.

    • Chris Herrbach

      Mar 21, 2016 at 4:09 pm

      Other brand center shafted putters spin around like the non center shafted. I’ve seen it myself. They demonstrated at the PGA show.

    • ParMan

      Mar 21, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      2Short you have to experience this thing in person. 10 putts with it compared to 10 putts with whatever you are using would be enough to show you. I watched over 100 people demo this a the Minnesota golf show and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM putted better and loved the “feel” of it swaying back and forth through the putt. I was very skeptical but tried it, bought one, and have shot my 2 best rounds since using it. I absolutely LOVE it. Guys I play with laughed at me when they saw it… then I laughed when they were paying me after the round and now they want to buy one lol

  24. Tider992010

    Mar 21, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    Looks a little like a bottle opener. Interesting tech through!

  25. alexdub

    Mar 21, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    I think that the price point is really going to be the killer. Whether or not the technology actually helps, the $400 price point is out of market for the casual AM’s who would most benefit from this putter. At 400, they are hitting that Scotty/Betti market. Will anyone—I mean anyone—in that market purchase this putter?

    • Carlos Danger

      Mar 21, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      No way people in that market purchase this. Because people in that market are more interested in getting the pretty/custom Betti/Scotty/Byron/etc…to show off than they are buying some atrocity that helps them make a 3 footer.

      Believe me I know…Im one of those people

      • Donald Matunis

        Mar 22, 2016 at 12:15 am

        May i ask how much you have in your irons and woods. And how many times per round you use them. Especially the driver and 3wood

  26. JAG

    Mar 21, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    I don’t think it’s bad looking at all, it’s a little funky, but compared to some of the monstrosities out there it looks like it could disappear after a few uses. The matte black helps a lot in that regard. It kind of reminds me of a fighter jet. As for the four hundred bucks, how often does a true innovation come along in golf? Assuming this is the first putter to ever be lie angle balanced. I think he should charge whatever he thinks he can get for something that no one else has to offer. I’ll definitely test it and may have to start saving my pennies. People spend that kind of money all the time for a driver and something that gets the ball in the hole should be worth that or more!

    • Bill Presse IV

      Oct 30, 2016 at 5:25 am

      Thank you, it’s was more expensive to make than most other $400 putters and each one is hand balanced to perfection as well. 100% made in the USA

  27. ooffa

    Mar 21, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    400 bucks? Really? C’mon that’s gotta be a misprint.

    • ParMan

      Mar 21, 2016 at 5:47 pm

      Check out the pricing for custom fit putters. Edel, Scottys, etc. $400 is still cheaper than a new driver and you take more strokes with your putter. Why spend $200 on a putter that doesn’t work. This thing is money, and you’ll win enough money off your friends with fewer strokes so it will pay itself off over time. After using this lie angle balanced putter, I could never go back. I’m a 2 handicap and have bought a new putter each year the past 5 years trying to shave those last 2 strokes off my handicap. My first 2 rounds with the Directed Force? Par. Par. Once the next handicap revision comes I should be at scratch so I feel like it’s the best $400 I’ve EVER spent on golf equipment.

  28. PKS

    Mar 21, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    I like the concept, as I use a center shafted putter, but I don’t think I could get comfortable looking at that putter head.

    • ParMan

      Mar 21, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      It took me some time practicing to get used to it but once more putts started going in and 3 putts disappeared I love it now

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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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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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Putter Reviews

Review: Bettinardi Inovai 3.0 Putters

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Pros: Bold alignment features. Aluminum F.I.T. Face creates a soft feel at impact. Great size and shape.

Cons: No adjustable weights.

Who it’s for: Anyone can use an Inovai 3.0. It will be preferred by golfers who like mallet putters, even more so by golfers in search of greater stroke stability.

The Review

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  • Weight: 358 grams
  • Material: 6061 Aluminum/303 Stainless Steel
  • Finish: Black Anodized/Hand Polished Stainless
  • Face Milling: F.I.T. (Feel Impact Technology) Face
  • Stock Lie/Loft: 71 degrees, 2 degrees
  • Stock Length Options: 33, 34, 35 inches
  • Stock Grip: Lamkin Deep-Etched Paddle, Lamkin Deep Etched Jumbo, SuperStroke options

The Inovai 3.0 is also available in center-shafted and counter-balanced ($349) models. 

Like most readers of GolfWRX, I change putters frequently. In fact, quite frequently. In my defense, however, I spent a great deal of time fiddling around with different shapes to determine if I am a “blade” or “mallet” guy.

Deep down, I’ve always wanted to be a blade guy – and why not? Blade putters look cool and next to flushing a forged 7-iron, there is no better feeling than holing a snaking 30-footer with a pure blade. Unfortunately for me, launch monitors, video playback, instructors and ultimately results have all steered me into mallet putters. Now that I know who I am, I can assure you that I have invested a great deal of time searching for the perfect mallet.

From Guerin Rife 2-Bar putters to TaylorMade Spiders to Scotty Cameron Futuras to recently an Odyssey #7, I am a purveyor of high-MOI putters because of their great stability and consistency. Throw in a soft feel at impact, and I am really hooked.

Based on these personal putter preferences, you can understand why my interest was especially piqued when I first saw Bettinardi’s new Inovai 3.0 (pronounced in-o-vai).

If Looks Could Kill

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Without even as much as holding the putter, it appeared to check all of the required boxes to make it in my bag. The first thing that sucked me in was the Inovai 3.0 stainless steel “wings,” which act as a mechanism to help move weight more rearward to create what the company calls the “perfect head weight.” For me, I just like the wings because it frames the ball and helps with alignment. But I’m not going to argue with “perfect” head weight, either.

Next, the body of the Inovai 3.0 is not too busy (like some high-MOI putters), nor is it too small, which in my mind defeats the purpose of a high performance mallet. In the words of the fictional character Goldilocks, the size of the Inovai 3.0 is “just right.”

Multi-Material Masterpiece

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If the shape of the Inovai 3.0 doesn’t draw you in, perhaps you will fall for the black anodized finish or the hand-polished 303 stainless steel weight bolted to the aluminum chassis. The concept of affixing a stainless steel section to a specific portion of the body is not a new concept for Bettinardi. The original Inovai also employs a hefty piece of steel to assist with weight and stability. This stainless steel back weight creates added density giving the user a solid, proportionately weighted weapon for the greens.

As seen on TOUR

Bettinardi refers to the Inovai 3.0’s shape shape as the “newest tour-proven shape.” If you don’t believe them, tune into Golf Channel and you will see many equipment companies with their interpretation of this shape. Everything about this shape just seems to work. Maybe the secret is out and this shape will soon overtake the unforgiving (yet beautiful) blade putters?

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What about the face? The Inovai 3.0 has a sleek, all-black face. Upon further inspection, the construction is Bettinardi’s proprietary F.I.T (Feel-Impact-Technology) face. According to the company, 55 percent of material is removed directly from the putter face during the milling process, creating the softest feel of any Bettinardi face finish. Typically, a soft, responsive feel is a mandate for those playing at the highest level. To no one’s surprise, the F.I.T. face is engineered for the golfers who have an “aggressive” putting style, and used by all of Bettinardi’s PGA Tour players.

Alignment, Alignment, Alignment

Perhaps one of the reasons that this shape continues to attract Tour players is because of its inherent alignment benefits. The stainless steel “wings” provide critical mass to stabilize the putter, but also double as an effective way to frame the ball at address. Look closely and you will also notice two subtle black lines on each wing. Throw in a half-inch, solid white line that stretches to the leading edge of the putter and you have an excellent chance of starting a putt on the desired line.

On the Green

Before I even struck a ball with the Inovai 3.0, I wanted to like it. I wanted to impart a smooth strike to the center of the ball and watch it roll end-over-end into the hole with precision and ease. After all, this is the shape I like to see at address. I dropped three balls on the green and alternated between 3-footers, 6-footers and 10-footers. As expected, the short putts dropped with ease as I was able to rely on the intuitive alignment features for added confidence. When employing a longer stroke, the ball rolled beautifully and reliably to the hole. Even on off-center strikes, the roll was consistent.

Inovai_3_grip_front

Not to be forgotten is the choice in grip. For the Inovai 3.0 putters, Bettinardi offers a traditional Lamkin paddle grip – a perfect choice to manage the weight of the head. For those seeking a thicker grip, a jumbo paddle grip is offered.

The Inovai 3.0 isn’t just flash or gimmick. The mix of milled aluminum and stainless steel gives, while providing the necessary size and mass to deliver a solid and reliable strike. The soft F.I.T. face provides incredible feedback and is a no-brainer for those who like a soft feel, as well as those who prefer completely milled putters

Overall, the iNOVAi 3.0 is worth a look if you are a purveyor of mallet putters or simply a frustrated blade guy. Personally speaking, the Inovai 3.0 has everything I am want and for that reason, is in the bag for the 2016 season.

Editor’s Note: Several GolfWRX Staff Members contributed to this review. 

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