Last year THP did a week long piece called “Putter Week” and the goal was to introduce and educate the readers on some of the smaller brands (or brands with great stories) that are on the market that are definitely worth taking a look at. Since those articles went up, we have been flooded with emails asking us to keep working to uncover new and exciting brands that people should know about, and bring them to the THP readers. Enter West Coast Putters, a new brand that we were eager to try out based on hearing things about their customer service and the putters they were creating.
THP – How did West Coast Putters get started?
WCP – West Coast Putters was started because I had too many putters in my collection and not one of them worked in every situation, so I would bring 2 or 3 putters with me each round and see what worked best that day. I was inspired by Taylormade’s customization in their drivers, the feel of a Scotty Camerons and the pure roll of Guerin Rife. I wanted to incorporate the best of all worlds into one putter.
THP – What shapes and styles do you focus on?
WCP – Currently there are three models in the design pipe. For initial acceptance I decided to focus on classic shapes and styles that most golfers are used to seeing. An Anser style blade, Mickleson style blade and a center shaft square-back half-mallet are part of the current designs being developed.
As the company grows more prototypes will join the current line.
THP – Tell us about the milling of the face?
WCP – The milling was developed over a period of six months with the intention of imparting a pure roll on the ball. The horizontal grooves are spaced so that 2 grooves fit into a single dimple in a ball which helps with a good top spin roll. Through testing it was discovered by accident that the vertical grooves impart a slight side spin when the ball is toed or heeled; this actually helps to steer the ball back to straight on miss-hits. They’re not miracle grooves but they help.
THP – What is the process used in making each putter?
WCP – Each putter is literally handmade from a single block of carbon steel. First the body is cut out on a CNC machine followed by the face. This guarantees a consistent grain from body to face which gives the best possible feel to each putter. The inserts are machined out separately then have the sound/vibration dampening materials applied afterwards. Each putter is made for the individual buying it; so grip choice, length, loft and lie are done on a per unit basis.
THP – Tell us about the insert in the cavity?
WCP – There are three inserts shipped with the prototypes and they serve to change the rebound effect and weight of the putter therefore altering the performance for different conditions. The current insert materials include brass (neutral greens), Beta6 Titanium (slow greens) and carbon fiber/Kevlar composite (fast greens). What has been found through testing is there is marked difference in feel and performance when you switch from one to the other (as much as 7 to 10 feet of roll). This effectively gives the user 3 putters in one that can be set up pre-round for the conditions of the day. We are also working with and testing other potential materials for future consideration.
THP – How custom can people go with a putter from Westcoast? Styles, finishes,
weighting, stamping, etc..
WCP – There are the three styles (shapes) that will be available by July 2010 as described above. Finishes are only limited to the materials and currently are offered in Classic Oilcan, Oilcan-from-Pluto and Natural which is a polished raw steel with a protective coating to prevent rusting. Each putter is engraved with the owners name and hand stamped with a serial number and date made. Further customization is available upon request and is dependent on the golfers needs and budget.
THP – What does the future hold for Westcoast Putters?
WCP – West Coast Putter Company is a small company and therefor moving towards the boutique style of company that creates one-off prototypes for the PGA Professional and High Performance Amateur. We are, however, open to establishing a strong partnership should the right club manufacturer express interest and want to develop the line for a retail environment. If you reference check out our website you can read about our tester at St Andrews and what he thought of the first prototype to leave WCP over a year ago. Also, we have gotten one of our prototypes into the hands of a PGA Tour Pro who has promised some feedback in the near future. This is a huge happening for us as we may get PGA exposure during the 2010 season. We are really looking forward to what his feedback will be and will incorporate his suggestions into future designs. So far we have made a lot of headway in a short time period and are very encouraged by what we’ve heard so far from our testers. So all-in-all the future looks very good for West Coast Putter Co.
At first glance the Zen Prototype appears to have almost a “garage” type of look to it. What we mean by that is that it is not quite as polished as one would get from picking up a putter at a local golf shop. But therein lies the beauty of the Westcoast Putter. Modern, edgy, simplistic in detail, and full of uniqueness! The face has a milling that is different and artistic and both the toe and the heel have stampings done in white which is a nice contrast from the color of the putter. The cavity has an opening cut out that shows off the soft insert and right above each bumper are custom weighting slots to make this truly fit with someone’s game. One thing that we were surprised about is that the West Coast Putter features a “Slotline Type” of alignment aid, a single white line with a notch in the putter head to help you make sure that you are completely aligned correctly before putting. The only thing missing to us would have been some customization to the sole of the putter head that could make it pop when showing it off or in the bag.
I was able to put the Zen Prototype from West Coast Putters in play for 8 rounds of golf and countless practice green sessions and came away with a different feeling than we get from most putters that we have worked with. The milled face and putter give a wonderfully soft feeling at impact and the tone (sound) at impact is deep and almost energetic. The Zen Prototype puts a very nice roll on the ball and we found that the weight ports in the back accept Taylormade Golf weights which made it extremely easy to customize it for the perfect weight for our game.
The unique feel of the Zen Prototype putter comes from the insert that is positioned directly behind the putter face. Our first impression when seeing the soft material was “what is that going to do for a golfer”, but after playing with it for quite a while, we can confidently say that we like what it does for the feel. Whether or not it adds buttery softness to the impact will be up to the user, but we found that when striking the ball, that the impact was slightly muted (in a good way) and it left an almost velvety feeling that we have not really seen before.
Testing was completed with having a group of four players head on the course for 18 holes with only this putter and report back their thoughts. Each one of the four golfers played an Anser style putter to begin with, so the transition was rather easy. By the time they were finished, 3 out of the 4 players were eager to get their hands on one. The reasons that they gave were feel, customizable weighting, and the ability to make their putter unique for them in both look and performance.
Last month we introduced a new part of each one of our reviews and that is customer service. When dealing with companies and spending the amount each of us golfers spend on golf equipment, we want to know whether or not a place will stand behind their product. When we first reached out to Marco Renna from West Coast Putters, it was because we had heard that their service was spectacular, and he personally delivered in every way. They work with you to find the right putter, keep you in the loop the entire way with updates in the process, and even follow it up with friendly emails asking what your thoughts were when you get your club to make sure you like it. But being thorough does not always make for good customer service, it is the way it is handled and with that, West Coast excels and makes every customer feel “special” throughout the process. Something that is rarely seen anymore and we were thrilled to find out it still exists.
A year ago Marco Renna and West Coast Putters set out to create a putter line that would help the golfer play in any condition thrown at them. Through the use of materials, inserts, and complete customization, they believe that they have come up with that solution and I am not sure we can argue that. A club that rolls the ball well, has great feel, a unique look, and is customizable could be what many golfers are looking for in their putter. THP is glad that we have been able to take a look at this brand as they are definitely on the rise and should be on your radar. For more information on the Zen Prototype or to learn more about West Coast Putters in general, check out their website at www.westcoastputters.com.
Till Next Time