For the last few years putter manufacturers have been in search of a putter face that will offer great feel, good looks, and most importantly the best forward roll right out of the box. It seems that where many of the putters in the past failed was getting the ball forward rolling immediately, and innovation in that area has been extremely high over the last 5 or so years. Grooves on the face of the putter started this huge trend and it has exploded from there. Each and every year there seems to be more innovation coming to the world of golf. Some good, some bad, and some that make you go “hmmmm”. The first time we saw the putters from Utopia Golf Products was one of those times in which innovation had us pondering quite a bit. They may be onto something here.
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From The Company
Utopia Golf Products, maker of finely-milled performance-based putters, made its official dÃ©but at the PGA Fall Expo Sept. 1-2 in Las Vegas with welcome fanfare and highly successful results. Winner of a â€œBest New Productâ€ award at the Expo, Utopia Golf Products is attracting the attention of golf instructors, equipment buyers, shop owners and players who appreciate the appealing putter designs with built-in performance features, in addition to the accomplished workmanship and high quality of the clubs.
â€œWe are delighted with the great response we have had to our putters from the very start,â€ says Scott Saunders, president of Utopia Golf Products. â€œIt is a pleasure to know we will have the opportunity to enhance the enjoyment and performance of golfers who discover how our putters can help improve their games.â€
Each Utopia club is designed, milled, hand-assembled, painted and polished to exact standards at the companyâ€™s manufacturing facility in Utopia, Texas, under the watchful eyes of putter designers Scott Saunders and Michael Hillis. The Utopia TXR I cavity-back blade putter and TXR II heel-shafted cavity-back mallet putter feature a ridge that acts as the face, creating a thin leading line the company refers to as â€œThe Edge.â€ The purpose of â€œThe Edgeâ€ is to give â€œtrue rollâ€ to the ball, allowing it to move smoothly along the intended line to the hole and reducing the probability of a mis-hit. Utopia putters are designed to strike the ball just above its equator to provide instant forward roll without skidding, hopping, skipping, side- or backspin.
Utopia Golf Products was founded this year by Bill Deichler, Mike Hillis and Scott Saunders, all residents of Utopia, Texas, a town of under 300 residents located about 80 miles west of San Antonio in Texas Hill Country. Inspired by their own putting woes and their love of the game, they set out to create putters that would offer the pleasure of improved performance to golfers of all skill levels. With the twin goals of striving to perfect their own play and providing opportunities to others to improve their games, the founders decided to name their company â€œUtopia Golf Products,â€ both in honor of their beloved little hometown and to reflect the unlimited potential of their creations. Utopia putters will be available at pro shops, green-grass retailers, sporting goods retailers and other golf retail outlets across the U.S, as well as on the company Web site. The putters can be imprinted with club, corporate or organization logos. They make perfect tee and tournament prizes or great gifts any time of year.
There was quite a bit of early buzz coming out of the Fall PGA Show about the Utopia putter. It was enough to make us want to contact the company and see about reviewing their new products. Within a couple of weeks, the Utopia TXR II arrived at our offices. First Thoughts…”What the heck?”. The putter from most angles seems to look normal enough. But when you look at the putter face you see a ridge running right through the middle of it. The rest of the office looked over the putter when it arrived and here are the early thoughts.
The finish was not cared for by most. While the face looked great, the rest of the putter had a cheaper look to it according to the testers. Almost spray paint like. The logo placed in the cavity is basically a sticker and everybody agreed that paint fill would have looked outstanding there. The grip is soft and looked great as did the headcover. The overall shape was one that most of us like quite a bit and the alignment aids on the putter itself are some of the better ones we have seen. To say we were all intrigued would be a major understatement.
Over the course of this review we have had 32 golfers try the Utopia TXR II putter. One thing to note before we get into the results is that when struck well, this putter puts an amazing roll on the ball. Possibly one of the best we have seen this year. All 32 golfers that tried it noted the exact same thing. We set up balls around the putting green and had players hit their own putter as well as the new Utopia putter and then give us their thoughts.
As mentioned, every single golfer that tried the putter thought the roll was great. No skidding at all and near perfect. The type of end over end topspin most golfers dream about.
At setup the putter looks great and gives off a fabulous confidence that many others do not.
When it comes to performance, the TXR II just flat out works.
The finish was once again not well liked by most of the testers. To quote 1 tester “Its like a half breed, the putter face is perfect, but the rest looks like its for miniature golf”.
There is a different audible sound than any other putter we have tested here. It is a muted sound (obviously because of the ridge) that almost all 32 people struggled with.
During our range testing with the Utopia TXR II, one question kept being asked over and over again and that is “is the putter USGA legal?”. There really is no answer to that at this time. It is USGA pending and many believe it will be approved. But while many do believe this, there were quite a bit of doubters on the testing green that day. It made it hard for the players to recommend purchasing a putter that may or may not be allowed to be used for handicap or tournament play. So with the range testing complete, we will call it inconclusive at this time. While the performance and roll was as good as anything out there, the finish and the audible sound, left quite a few puzzled.
Normally we address feel a little bit in our THP Range Testing, but with the Utopia TXR II we wanted to make it a separate section due to the difference of opinion we were finding during the process of reviewing this putter. Slightly more than half of the testers (17) thought that this putter was one of the best feeling clubs that they had ever used on the green. However slightly less than half (15) did not care for the feel at all. Called it “muted and odd feeling”. We decided to take it out again with a couple of “experts” with the flatstick (2 local teaching pros that specialize in short game). Here is what we found out.
“For many people out there playing, especially amateurs that have been playing a very long time, they get confused with what they are feeling,” said David Moss. “Most would not be able to tell the difference in good feel and bad feel in a putter because there is no good feel and bad feel. Every putter feels differently and each player is different in what they like. Players often try to put it into words, but it turns into more marketing than anything else.”
“The sound of a putter, the shape of a putter, and the performance of a putter all dictate feel as it is being portrayed by most amateur golfers,” said Chris Lebeau. We are not here to tell someone that they are wrong in choosing a putter because they believe it feels the best. What I am saying is that more plays into the feel than most players believe.”
We asked these teachers about the feel of the TXR II putter from Utopia and they felt the same way many of the testers thought. That when well struck, this putter feels absolutely great. However there is a different sound coming off the putter face that was influencing quite a few. The ridge across the putter face gives off a different type of feedback and in the end that is where feel really matters. Our testing concluded this day with the thought that with time, the feedback given would be fabulous, but it would take some time getting used to.
Technology & Info
The TXR II is made out of stainless steel. Utopia uses both casting and milling to get their putter at the specs that they are looking for. They then finish it in what they call a soft satin finish. The real technology here is the ridge called the “Edge”. Does the technology work? It did for our testing. The price on the website right now is listed as $199.99 for either model. As of right now they offer 2 models for consumers. The TXR I which is a blade putter and the TXR II that we are featuring here.
Most of the people that tested out this putter saw great results. Does the “Edge” work to get the ball rolling and make you a better putter? It appears to do exactly that and people could see that immediately. The issues that people had with the putter were not at all about performance. Some had issues cosmetically with the finish of the putter and some had issues with the sticker on the cavity. Both of those are purely preference and could be fixed quite easily. The audible sound that people were not used to is certainly something that will take some time, but once you get used to it, the performance really outweighs that.
If the Utopia TXR II gets approved by the USGA then it is a putter that we strongly recommend trying out. When something this unique comes, it is always nice to see it perform as advertised. While the putter was not for everybody, not a single person did not like the results with it. For more information on this or any other product from Utopia Golf check out their website at www.utopiagolfproducts.com.
Till Next Time