ADJUSTABILITY COMES TO PUTTERS
With relatively recent USGA restrictions on size, trampoline effect (COR), and resistance to twisting (MOI), golf equipment manufacturers have begun to focus on club adjustability as the new frontier with which to entice golfers to update their equipment and improve their game. The first wave of adjustability came in the form of drivers with moveable weights that could be changed to promote a fade, neutral, or draw ball flight. The second wave of adjustability followed with interchangeable driver heads and shafts that could be attached or separated using a simple wrench system, rather than the traditional permanent epoxy attachment, this allowing a player to easily change a shaft to one optimally suited for the dayâ€™s weather or course conditions. Most recently, manufacturers have introduced specialized hosels to the interchangeable driver shafts. These new adjustable hosels allow a golfer to select a wide variety of lofts, lies, and face angles. As a result, driver options for golfers is at an all time high. But what about other clubs?
Well, while the R&D folks at Callaway, TaylorMade, Nike and Nickent were busy focusing on driver adjustability, Goode Putters was working on adjustability at the other end of the club spectrum â€“ putters. Specifically, interchangeable milled stainless and carbon steel putter heads, and shafts with three degrees of hosel offset (full, half, and neutral). These adjustable putters are now available directly from Goode Putters through its website, and THP recently had the opportunity to test two of the models.
Goode Putters offers three different putter head styles in two different finishes â€“ Black Carbon and Stainless Steel. Shafts are offered in incremental lengths of 0.75â€ ranging from 29.25â€ to 36â€. A pistol grip is offered in three colors, one of which is only offered as a mid-size grip. Hosels are available in full, half, or neutral offset, and customers may select lie angles ranging from 68 to 72 degrees. Goodeâ€™s website offers suggestions for choosing hosels, shaft length, and lie angle based on dominant eye, height, and putting stance.
The grip, shaft, and hosel are supplied as a single, nonadjustable unit. The putter head is attached to the hosel with a single screw that utilizes a hex socket head (as opposed to a slotted or crosshead design). The screw is tightened or loosened using a simple hex key. All putter heads are CNC milled and are designed with a zero degree loft. A complete Carbon Black model sells for $199.00, while the Stainless Steel model sells for $249.00. Different putter heads are available separately at additional cost ($129 for Carbon Black, $179 for Stainless Steel), as are grip/shaft/hosel combinations ($70.)
HOW WE TESTED IT
For this review, Goode Putters provided THP with two putter heads, a Black Carbon 2 and a Black Carbon 3, and two grip/shaft/hosel combinations. The 33.25â€ shaft was fitted with a half-offset hosel, while the 35.25â€ shaft was fitted with a full-offset hosel. Although Goode states on its website that all putters ship with a leather headcover, the samples provided to us did not include headcovers. This is not meant to imply that the headcovers are not provided to those ordering the putters, only that THP cannot provide an opinion for this review because we did not have them
Each putter was tested for several practice sessions over a period of approximately two weeks on real grass practice greens. The condition of greens during the practice sessions ranged from aerated and recently sanded, to greens that rolled true and moderately fast.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Adjustment: Before the putters were taken out for performance testing, the interchangeable heads were removed, swapped and examined for any signs of a less-than-secure attachment. None were found. The single screw design is sufficient to attach the putter head to the hosel with no concerns.
However, we were disappointed that, at this price point, a more convenient tool was not provided for loosening and tightening the hex head screw. At a minimum, it would be nice to have a simple t-shaped ratchet tool, like the kind used by snowboarders to adjust binding screws, with the proper size hex bit included with a complete putter purchase. Additionally, although it did not affect either the attachment or performance of the head, some head designs did not fit completely flush with some hosel designs. The gap was minimal, but noticeable. Finally, hosels are only available in a stainless finish, while heads are offered in both stainless and black carbon finishs. As a result, the Black Carbon heads contrast sharply with all hosels; an appearance which some golfers may find distracting. While the last two issues are purely aesthetic, they are ones that we would not normally expect to find with putters in this price range.
As a side-note, Goode might be well advised to: (a) include specifications such as head weight, exact offset measurements, and similar information on its website; and (b) consider an interchangeable hosel design so that buyers can simply swap out the hosel on their existing Goode shaft. The target consumer of a putter with interchangeable heads is almost certainly a golf â€œgearheadâ€ and will be looking for more information and options than the average golfer.
Performance: On the greens, the Goode Putters performed admirably. The heel-toe weighting design compensated for off-center hits and helped ensure that distances on putts struck closer to the heel or toe were similar to putts stuck on the center of the face. The Carbon Black head was exceptionally soft for a non-insert putter; a fact perhaps amplified by a putter head that felt slightly heavier than other comparable putters.
As a complete unit, the putters had nice balance and setup. Strokes seemed simple and natural without any feel that the putter design or weighting was pulling the stroke off line. Short and medium length putts rolled true immediately and stayed on line as much as the greens allowed.
However, putts that required a bit more force (i.e., long and uphill putts) suffered from some distance control issues most likely attributable to Goodeâ€™s use of a zero degree loft face on its putters. (The industry standard is a putter loft of two to five degrees of loft, with the most common being approximately four degrees of loft.). Goode asserts that its putters are designed with zero degree loft design so that the â€œball begins to roll as soon as it is strokedâ€ and that the putter â€œmakes the ball roll out better and the distance control is so much easier which makes you more consistent.â€ In contrast, most manufacturers assert that a zero degree loft face tends to drive the ball slightly into the ground at impact, disrupting the natural roll as the ball. As a result, some loft is required to elevate the ball on to the top of the grass to avoid skidding. While skidding was not a major problem, our testing indicates that Goodeâ€™s putters might benefit from the addition of some minimal amount of loft.
Another area of concern is the durability of the Black Carbon finish. After only a few weeks of testing under average conditions, the black finish showed notable wear and tear with the silver metal showing through the finish around several of the edges and scrapes. As mentioned above, this is merely a cosmetic issue, but one that we would not expect in a putter selling for more than $200.
JUST THE FACTS
WHO (is it for?): Tinkerers. If you find yourself constantly changing your mind about which hosel and putter head combination you like best, Goode Putters may be for you.
WHAT (options are available?): Choice of three grip options. Choice of shaft length. Choice of full, half, or neutral offset hosel. Choice of three putter head styles in either Black Carbon or Stainless Steel.
WHERE (can you get it?): Order online to your specifications at the Goode Putter website.
WHEN (can you use it?): Itâ€™s a putter – use it for putting. Or, heck, as a flagpole if thatâ€™s what you want. I mean, we donâ€™t recommend it, but if that makes you happy, go for it. Who are we to deny you your happiness?
WHY (would you want it?): Because you like to mix it up, but donâ€™t want to have to buy a whole new putter every time you do it.
HOW (does it work?): Grip, shaft, and hosel are available as a single, nonadjustable unit. Putter head attaches securely with a long screw.
LONGSHANKS RATING: Par.
Price (complete putter):
Black Carbon: $199.00
Stainless Steel: $249.00
Black Carbon Putter Head and Headcover: $129.00
Stainless Steel Head and Headcover: $179.00
Grip, Shaft, and Hosel: $70.00
Goode Sports LLC