Last year at the 2009 PGA Merchandise Show Slotline Putters was “born again”. The brand that was a huge hit just a few decades back was relaunched by Dynamic Brands after taking a full year to research what the consumers and golfers wanted in their putters. They launched with a bang as the Slotline brand brought 14 different models to the marketplace that spanned over 3 different price points. Last April THP got their first taste of the Slotline brand when Jason K reviewed their blade models. The feedback we got on the first review was great so we wanted to review the mallets and Jason K did just that the following month in May. THP also had the opportunity to sit down and interview one of the minds behind the launch of this new line in Slotline Product Manager Chad Lehr. Our readers were truly able to understand this product and what it was about and where it was headed.
The Story for 2010
SSi-691 blade w/â€Lâ€ Neck hosel
SSi-692 blade w/ Slant hosel
Cast 304 S/S, then milled for 45 minutes to bring to final shape.
Tri-milled 6061 Aluminum face insert.
Non-glare Tin-Nickel plated finish.
15g Tungsten weights in the toe and heel, 30g total.
SLOT & LINE alignment.
3* Loft / 71* Lie
360g head weight
Slotline was nice enough to send over each of their 3 putters to review and when the package arrived we were expecting a similar look to last year. While we had seen the pictures of the newer versions already, we did not expect to see the dramatic changes when they were in our hands. The “i” in SSi stands for insert as each one of these new models features an insert that has been milled and is said to add a softer feel. The overall look of the entire line was something to behold. If someone left the name and logo off the putter grip and head you would swear that this was some kind of collectible as it begs to be put on display. The darker “Tin Nickel” finish is absolutely gorgeous and is highlighted in gold, both in the insert and with the logo on the cavity. There was not a tester in our office that day that did not think the look was a huge improvement over last year. While THP very much enjoyed the black finish of last year’s models, this is a piece of equipment that is an attention grabber.
Slot & Line & SKM
Every Slotline putter features the Slot & Line alignment system for which the brand is named. Slotline adds a small notch in the back of the topline of the putter. The “goal” is too have that notch matchup perfectly with the sightline to give the golfer proper alignment. Does it work? In our testing with both this line and the previous line, our testers felt it worked as good or better than advertised. The only issue we had is that a few of our “senior” testers had a tough time seeing the notch and it caused them to miss out on this alignment system.
The 2010 models fall under an umbrella called the SKM series of putters. SKM stands for skim or skim milled. Milling as a whole is prized for the quality that it has brought to the world of putters. SKM brings a new approach to the world of milling as the heads are originally cast and then they go through a milling process to get the detail and shape. The insert is also milled out of aluminum and by using the SKM process the belief is that they can save the consumer some money and still get the detail that only milling can bring to the table.
We covered the looks a little above, but with a putter lineup that looks like this one, there is plenty of more to go over. As mentioned the darker non-glare finish and the gold accents are something to behold. The bottom of the putter features are large SLOTLINE with SKM SERIES written under it and that is surrounded by two tungsten weights. The back cavity of the putter (blades) features the Slotline Golf logo in gold as well as a gold alignment line (more on that later). The face of the putters features a gold insert that was brought in based on feedback from consumers and tour players and is there to add more feel and a more “pure” roll. We can find out the results later on, but one thing we can say for certain is that the insert makes the putter look as good or better than any we have seen before. The mid-mallet was the favorite of the entire testing panel based on looks alone and we could not wait to get these out for testing.
There seems to be a growing trend in the putter market for heavier weighted putters to promote a good clean stroke on the golf ball. Slotline has made their new line follow that trend as each head weighs a whopping 360 grams. They also have a slightly heavier shaft and this is done to counterbalance the heavier head. When it comes to feel, I personally, have not liked the heavier heads. I think performance wise they work quite well, but they have always taken away from the feel of the putter. The Slotline SSi models do not suffer from that issue however as the feel of the insert is soft and responsive. The audible sound from the entire Slotline Putter line was a deeper sound than expected. Last year the line had different sounds for each putter and we expected something similar with the 2010 models. Yet this year it was a deep bass like sound that also provided good feedback to know when well struck. The insert overall felt great to just about everybody that tried it, however the mid-mallet is quite offset it seems which left a few players missing the sweet spot and having trouble getting that “feel” that the results were puzzling to a few.
We were able to get a total of 27 golfers to try out the Slotline SKM Series over the course of our testing. Here are some of the findings after everybody took some time to work with the putters.
26 out of 27 golfers loved the looks of the putter and more than 4 golfers compared it to artwork.
19 out of the 27 golfers thought that the weight of the putter helped their overall stroke.
8 of the 27 felt as though the entire line was just a little too heavy and they were running the balls past the hole.
24 out of the 27 felt the insert performed as good or better than other inserts that they have tried this year.
17 out of 27 felt the insert was the best feeling insert that they have used to date.
3 out of 27 struggled with the Slot & Line alignment being too small.
16 out of the 27 loved the look of the mid-mallet the best but struggled with the actual putting with it.
23 of the 27 golfers that tested the putters over the period of review would all consider switching to it and recommending it to others.
The overall consensus was that Slotline has a winner on its hands this year. The looks, the feel, and the performance worked extremely well for the majority of the people trying these clubs. The mid-mallet was the clear cut favorite in the looks department but too many people struggled with the apparent offset of the club. The two blade models differ by only the hosel and were also well liked overall in the looks department and their performance did not disappoint.
Over the course of the next few weeks I took all 3 of these putters out on the course for testing during actual play. I am in the same boat as most of the testers in regards to the shapes made. I simply think the mid-mallet putter from the Slotline SKM series is one of the better shapes I have seen this year. But the struggling continued with me and that model. I was pulling just about every putt. However the other two were so good, that I found myself completely forgetting about the issues with my favorite in the looks category. The insert gives off a feel that is extremely responsive and makes putting a joy. No click sounds that are notorious in many insert putters. This entire line feels pure and smooth. The Slot & Line system works as described as we have said before and the overall experience is a positive one. Did I make more putts with the Slotline than my regular putter? No, in fact I was dead on my average. However picking up a new putter and not struggling was a good thing and apparently the Slotline is quite the conversation piece in a foursome. Not a single person I played with over the next few weeks did not comment on how good these look.
There is however 1 thing that I need to address with Slotline. Their headcovers are just not up to par with how good these putters look. You take a piece of golf equipment that is being compared to artwork by quite a few and cover it up with a slip on that is a pain to take off and put on. We are begging them to do the putters proud and ad a nice white or black putter cover that showcases exactly how good the “goods” are underneath.
THP feels very strongly that Slotline Golf has a BIG winner on its hands with the SKM line. When you combine looks, feel, and performance into a package that has a MSRP of $179 you are onto something pretty special. Many of the testers felt as though this line might be the best looking putter line they have come across and we cannot argue with those opinions. For more information on the entire product line from Slotline Golf, check out their website at www.slotlinegolf.com. Look for these new SKM Series Slotline putters to go on sale this month.
Till Next Time