Straight Aim putters: Everything but the kitchen sink
One of the great joys of life is coming home to find a new golf club on my front porch. Lucky for me, as an equipment writer, this is almost a daily joy. It’s gotten to the point where my two-year-old son is disappointed when there’s not a long, rectangular box leaning against our front door when we get home in the evening.
Another great joy in life is finding (or being found by) small equipment companies, and testing out clubs with sometimes radical, sometimes downright weird designs. Yesterday, my son and I found a box on our porch containing two putters from Straight Aim Golf, in my home state of Minnesota.
We excitedly opened the box and, while my son ran to find a golf ball, I examined the new flat sticks. I was immediately struck by how many design features appeared to be integrated into the Straight Aim putter. Upon reading the company web site, I found a few more features I had missed.
These putters, designed by Richard Patten, a PhD in human factors research, have everything but the kitchen sink in them.
A few features are fairly common in the putter world: face-balancing, heel-toe weighting, a non-glare finish, and a striking thick white line as an alignment aid.
Then there are a few more cutting edge features: adjustable tungsten weights, a higher face height (to ensure the sweetspot strikes the ball above the equator of the ball), a rounded sole to reduce drag, and a ball pick-up hole in the bottom of the club. Push the putter down onto the ball (even when it’s in the hole!), and up comes the ball, stuck in the bottom. I demonstrated this capability for my son and he giggled uncontrollably and begged me to do it over and over again another 20 times.
Then there are the unique, proprietary features. First is the trademarked SLPRY polymer face insert, is claimed to provide more feedback than softer elastomer inserts. More importantly, the SLPRY insert is not milled, but is instead completely smooth. Patten points out that most putts are struck with the face slightly open or closed. If an insert or putter face is milled, it imparts side-spin on non-square hits, causing the ball to drift farther from the hole. Thus the smooth insert lets the ball slide off without grabbing it, closer to the intended line even if the face isn’t square.
This actually makes a good bit of sense. I’m a bit shocked I hadn’t thought of it before.
Finally, there is the patent-pending Error Variance Reduction (EVR) insert, which is said to “displace impact force vectors from 180-degrees (rebound) to lateral (90-degrees) vectors in relation to impact force.” I’m not exactly sure what this means, but Patten offers to explain in more detail to any customer who requests it. (And I’ll get the low-down before I review these putters in full.)
The EVR insert conforms to USGA regulations, and Paten claims it produces putts 25 percent closer to the hole than the big-name putters.
Two things are certain, though: One, Straight Aim putters are cheaper than big-name competitors ($50-$75), and two, not even the biggest names in the game incorporate so many design features into their putters.
I wonder if we can fit a ball-washer into the grip somehow…?
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