Pros: Square alignment aids make it incredibly easy to aim, and the face insert feels soft and rolls the ball well. There won’t be any glare issues, even on the brightest of days, thanks to the matte black finish.
Cons: Golfers who like a line indicating the center of the putter face are out of luck with the Smart Square, as are those who want something other than a face-balanced putter.
Bottom Line: Sometimes, it’s the small things that make a difference. Such is the case with the Smart Square, which like Odyssey’s Versa putters from 2013 use a small cosmetic change to add considerable alignment benefits.
In recent years, Cleveland putters have flown under the radar, overshadowed by the likes of Odyssey, Scotty Cameron and Ping, who stayed in the spotlight by finding ways to excite golfers with new putter lines every year or two.
The Smart Square might be the putter that steals some spotlight back for Cleveland. It’s a high-MOI design (with the not-so-high price of $139) and slick new alignment system is sure to catch the attention of the industry.
The selling point of the Smart Square is that alignment system — the two white squares that sit on top of the matte black putter head. The combination of parallel and perpendicular lines creates what Cleveland calls “Dual Axis Alignment,” which frames the golf ball and helps a golfer visualize the proper path to the hole.
According to a Cleveland press release, golfers aimed the Smart Square 23 percent more accurately than “one of the most popular putters of all time.” That’s a clear shot at Odyssey’s famed 2-Ball putter, which no doubt inspired the Smart Square. The question is, will the squares make Odyssey’s 2-Ball alignment system seem, well… square? More on that below.
The Smart Square, available for pre-order on Oct. 15, will be sold in lengths of 33, 34 and 35 inches in both heel- and center-shafted models (heel-shafted only for lefties.. It will also be available in Cleveland’s “Almost Belly” length of 39 inches, with a stock 360-gram head and a counterbalancing 158-gram grip. The Almost Belly (right-hand only) will retail for, $179, forty bucks more than the standard model.
The putters come stock with 3 degrees of loft and a 70-degree lie angle. The stock Winn putter grip weighs 60 grams.
Aiming the Smart Square putter is so simple, provided you’re not a golfer who likes a line in the middle of your putter. It’s black finish contrasts wonderfully with the two white squares on top of the putter head, giving golfers both parallel and perpendicular reference points.
Much like Odyssey’s idea to finish its Versa putters with contrasting black and white lines for better alignment, the concept of swapping the 2-Ball’s circles for more alignment-friendly squares seems obvious after the fact. And the squares seem to be just the right shape and size. They hug the edges of the golf ball when the putter is properly set up, which will help golfers find the center of the putter face at address.
For me, the squares did a great job at helping me see the proper track to the hole, particularly on short putts, where a fraction of a degree of misalignment can be the difference between a made putt and a missed one.
From a forgiveness standpoint, the high-MOI design shined, working hand-in-hand with the putter’s copolymer insert to provide somewhat consistent speeds across the middle of the insert.
Looks and Feel
I’m a milled putter snob, but I have to admit the feel of the Smart Square made me seriously reconsider my snobbery. On long and short putts, the copolymer insert kept a consistent soft feel. And the insert isn’t overly soft either, which can kill off the important vibrations from mishits golfers need to monitor the success of their strikes.
Unlike Odyssey’s Versa putters, the company chose to make the insert black, matching the body color of the putter. Traditionalists will appreciate this detail, as it keeps a somewhat traditional look at address and keeps the emphasis where it should be; lining up the path of the squares to the aim point.
I also enjoyed the stock Winn Pro Pistol grip, which is firmer than Winn grips I’ve used in the past. That’s a definite plus for good players, who often prefer a firm, tacky surface to help them relax their grip pressure.
If you have a straight-back, straight-through stroke or enjoy the look of an alignment-boosting mallet, you should definitely give the Smart Square a roll. It’s stealthy black finish makes the putter look a little more compact than it actually is, and you might find that you like the help of two squares to help you get square to your target line.
With a price point of $139, the Smart Square isn’t going to hurt your golfing budget much, either. And like me, I think you’ll find that it feels surprisingly premium for a putter that price.
WRX Spotlight Review: T Squared TS-713i Standard Series putter
Product: T Squared TS-713i Standard Series Putter
About T Squared: T Squared Putters is a small putter manufacturer just south of Buffalo, New York. The company was founded by Tony Tuber who created his first prototype putters, after hours, in his father’s machine shop. Since then Tony and his father have been creating high-quality putters in the same facility that creates high precision instruments for the medical field. They pride themselves on creating the highest quality, most precise putter they can offer. They offer a few different head shapes from small traditional blades to high MOI mallets and even a custom program to get exactly what you want.
The Ts-713i Standard Series is based on the Ts-713, the first prototype that Tony created. It is a blade-style putter with a slightly longer flange and a unique face insert milled from 6061 aluminum. The body of the Ts713i is milled from a solid block of 303 stainless steel that is produced in the USA and has a Teflon backing between the body and face insert.
This Teflon backing helps give the putter a softer feel at impact and reduce any unwanted vibration. Details are what T Squared is all about and the neck of the putter shows off their milling expertise. The neck is similar to a plumbers neck, built with multiple pieces and offering some cool texture on the section bonded to the head. Another great detail is that all the silver markings on the putter are not filled with paint, they are milled into the head. T Squared finished the head in a sharp matte black and then milled all the markings on the putter for a unique, shiny silver look that really stands out. Ts-713i putters are built for customizing and have a ton of options that you can select if you would like to build something totally unique
On the green, the T Squared TS-713i really performs fantastic. I found the feel at impact very solid without any unwanted vibration. The impact produces a muted click and soft feel that I wasn’t expecting from this aluminum insert and thin face. The deep milling and Teflon coated back to the insert really work together to produce a great, responsive feel that I enjoyed. Deep milling usually makes me a little worried because it can soften the putter too much and lose that feel we all demand.
The TS-713i has no issues and transmits impact feel back to your hands with ease. Mishits are a little louder and harsh, but nothing even close to unpleasant. I have used putters that don’t feel as good on perfectly struck shots as the TS-713i feels on mishit putts. Distance and accuracy on those mishit putts are not as drastic as you would expect with a blade putter. I often just missed the cup by small margins when I struck a putt on the toe or heel of the TS-713i. There aren’t too many blade putters that have shown this level of forgiveness on the green for me.
The “T” alignment aid on the flange of the putter is large and easy to use. Not only do you get a straight line from the face to the back edge for alignment, but the back of the “T” also helps you square the putter up to your target. The Pure grip is not my thing, and it would be great for T Squared to offer a few more options, but that is an easy fix and a very minor criticism.
Overall, the T Squared TS-713i is a great putter from young Tony Tuber that exceeded my expectations. His attention to detail, precision milling, and take on a classic head shape offer golfers something different without sacrificing any performance. If you are looking for a great feeling putter that is made in the USA, you should take a look at T Squared and see what they can make for you.
WRX Spotlight: Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter
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.
- More photos of the Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter (and other Toulon Stroke Lab putters) in the forums.
WRX Spotlight Review: Miura MGP-NM1 Putter
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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