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|Cleveland Golf's new Smart Square Putter is ideal for square-to-square strokes. (Courtesy of Cleveland Golf)|
There is only one club in your golf bag that stays in your field of vision throughout the stroke. And only one club that you can actually see as it's impacting the ball.
No wonder most players consider a putter's "look" to be perhaps it's most important feature. If your putter looks good to you, if it suits your eye, it instills you with confidence. And confidence is crucial to good putting.
Putters have evolved tremendously in the past couple of decades, especially with respect to visuals: larger, strategically weighted heads with multiple alignment aids are now common, even on the PGA Tour.
Cleveland Golf has taken alignment aids to a new level -- a brilliantly simple yet effective new level. The Smart Square Putter combines parallel and perpendicular lines for alignment with a firmer copolymer insert to create a remarkably effective mallet.
It has been close to a decade since I made the switch from a more traditional flanged blade putter to my first mallet, and I have never gone back. Mallets, like the Smart Square, tend to be face balanced and perimeter weighted, making them more forgiving in instances of off-center strikes or twitchy strokes.
Mallets are thus ideal for amateur golfers, who tend to prefer straight-back-straight-through strokes. The Smart Square's two ball-sized, square alignment aids somehow seem to mirror this sort of putting stroke. Cleveland Golf says the perpendicular lines behind the ball help to make sure the putter face is square behind the ball, and the parallel lines assist in maintaining a straight-through stroke.
I don't quite understand how the apparently small change from two round alignment marks on the back of several popular flatsticks to the two white-outlined squares on the Smart Square improves alignment, but within a few putts, I became a believer.
In fact, the very first putt I rolled with the Smart Square was a 10-foot, left-to-right uphill breaker. The straight lines on the Smart Square reminded me of the best putting advice I've ever received: All putts are straight. So I set up straight to the spot where I thought the putt would break, and hit it.
The ball dove in the hole like a homesick gopher.
The copolymer face insert, which is black like the entire Smart Square head (aside from the white alignment lines), is firmer than most inserts, and the ball sort of pops off of it. You gain confidence that the ball is always going to get to the hole. Nevertheless, feel is excellent, and the difference between contact in the sweet spot vs. contact toward the toe, heel, or sole is easy to perceive.
Players who use a straight-through stroke, and who favor mallets over blades or Anser-styles, will find the Smart Square an appealing option.
I've been using the same mallet for years, despite having tested countless new flatsticks during that time. But the Smart Square fits my eye and stroke so well that -- to my surprise -- that old mallet is heading to the basement.
The Smart Square comes in heel-shafted (the version reviewed here) and center-shafted models, in both regular length ($139) and Almost Belly ($179) versions, with the longer version being two and a half times heavier than the shorter.
For more information, visit ClevelandGolf.com.
October 31, 2013
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.
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