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|The Dynacraft On-Line Putter by Hireko Golf may be the best putter for less than $40 on the market. (Courtesy of Hireko Golf)|
Whenever I receive a new $200 or $300 putter to test and review, I am reminded of the Nationwide Tour player (Nike Tour at the time) who won an event using a putter he had bought for $10 at the local Walmart.
And I wonder to myself: Does one really need to shell out the Benjamins to roll in the putts?
When I received the Dynacraft On-Line Putter by Hireko Golf, I wondered the same thing but for a different reason. You see, the On-Line sells for just $39 assembled on the Hireko Golf website.
Could a putter that is not backed by a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign or a high-profile player endorsement really work?
The answer is yes.
My golf game ebbs and flows with the vagaries of my full swing, but my putting is pretty steady. This makes testing putters both fun and challenging.
Fun because I get to do something I'm reasonably good at, and challenging because most any putter performs well for me given a short period of adjustment.
With Hireko Golf's Dynacraft On-Line Putter, though, that period was extremely short. The On-Line's design incorporates three basic design features, one of which is performance-related, one of which is convenience-related and one of which is a little of both.
The performance-related feature is the 365-gram, heel-toe weighted mallet clubhead that features an effective alignment aid, namely a ball-width, horseshoe-shaped opening in the back of the mallet with a "spike" on either side. This design is reminiscent of some recent far-more-expensive Odyssey models and provides excellent stability throughout the swing.
The convenience-related feature is also found in the groove-like opening, which doubles as a great ball-scoop. Mallets are great design innovations, but many of them do not allow you to pick up your ball without bending over. For some of us, that's a pretty nice feature, and the On-Line has the best ball-scooping capability of any putter I've ever seen -- the ball never slips out.
Finally, the feature that's a little of both is also contained in the unique opening at the back of the clubhead: At the top of the opening, there are two open lines that match up with the exact equator of the golf ball. If you take a Sharpie and fill in the lines, you have yourself an alignment aid on the ball, too, without having to use yet another gadget to mark your ball.
So what does all of this clever design get you on the green? I asked Karl Newton, of Mahomet, Ill., a 13-handicap who swears by his old Anser-style putter to give it a try. After commenting on the fact that he really doesn't like mallet putters and is more of a traditionalist, he stroked a 15-footer straight into the cup.
"I'll take it," he said. "It gives you great feedback, too. I really like the way the ball feels coming off the face."
Both Newton and I both noticed that the ball sort of jumps off the face faster than expected at first, but it is not hard to get used to the "live" face.
As for me, the On-Line performed so well that it replaced the putter I'd been carrying for nearly two years -- a big-name putter that retails for more than $200.
There's an old guy with an original Bulls-Eye putter at my home course who reminds us every week that you don't need a $300 putter made with space-aged materials and stamped with a famous name to sink putts -- he's practically automatic inside 10 feet.
Hireko Golf's Dynacraft On-Line Putter underscores this point: For less than $40, the On-Line not only rolls the ball well, it also provides an excellent alignment aid and a ball-marking guide. It's a triple-threat on the greens without being a mortal threat to your budget.
For more information, visit www.hirekogolf.com.
July 7, 2010
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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