CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - At the PGA Fall Expo in Las Vegas, the most innovative designs were seen in the putters, especially those introduced by new, smaller companies. Perhaps the most sophisticated new design unveiled was by Mentor Sports, of Castro Valley, Calif., whose V-MOI series is a tinkerer's delight.
Mentor's V-MOI putters all feature large forged aluminum heads with slots into which weighted cylinders can be inserted. The V-MOI Triad putter, which we tested, has three such slots, thereby allowing for 20 weight configurations. The V-MOI Quadra has four, allowing for 35 weight configurations. The current retail price of both models is $149.
In sum, if you think the repositionable weights in the TaylorMade r7 driver are cool, you ain't seen nothing yet.
The Triad is a face-balanced mallet-style putter with three degrees of loft and a 72-degree lie angle. The putter head is huge: 5.75 inches from heel to toe and 4.75 inches from face to back.
The depth of the clubhead is due to the weight slots, of course, as well as to an extremely effective alignment aid - a white line running the length of the rectangular back that extends backward from the face. Alignment aids of this sort are all the rage now, but I can honestly say that I have not found any other such aid to be quite as confidence-inspiring as the Triad's. I believe that I've yet to miss a putt inside four feet with this thing (which is a major accomplishment for me).
The V-MOI putters come complete with a Starter Weight Kit. This kit contains two A-Weights (17 grams each) and two S-Weights (50 grams each). The Professional Upgrade Weight Kit, which is sold separately, contains two S-Weights and two T-Weights (110 grams).
As one might expect, the upgrade weight kit gives you even wider range of adjustability. Along with the Starter Kit, the Professional Upgrade Kit brings the total count to two A-Weights, four S-Weights, and two T-Weights. All weights can be added and removed with the hex-wrench that is also included.
Like I said, the Triad is practically automatic from short range. The enormous aluminum face with its honeycomb milling feels soft, yet provides exceptional feedback.
In all honesty, I fiddled around with the weights for a while, but became frustrated by all of the options. And because the weight cylinders are not marked, I couldn't tell exactly how much weight I was putting in each slot or how much total weight I was dealing with.
Frankly, what's the point of having all these options if you can't tell what you're doing? I finally settled on a combination that felt right, but I have no idea what the total weight is or whether most of the weight is closer to or farther from the face. Perhaps future incarnations will be better labeled.
Finally, an issue that arises with all of the new breed of massive-headed putters came up with the Triad as well. Namely, due to the large surface area of the putter sole, it is relatively easy to accidentally scuff the sole along the turf either on the backswing or on the downswing, especially on longer putts.
Combine this hazard with the learning curve of judging speed using a larger, heavier putter and it will take some time on the practice green to fully appreciate the V-MOI Triad. However, the confidence inspired by nailing one four-footer after another should help ease the transition.
Just prior to press, Mentor Sports announced the impending release of the Triad II and the Quadra II, due out in late May, 2005.
"The design goal was to appeal to a broader audience - those that are not used to large putters - yet still have the same benefits of the original models," said Chin Bae of Mentor Sports. "We also added a few aesthetic touches to the new designs to produce a more elegant look compared to the high-tech look of the original designs. The size of the Quadra II has been reduced to that of the current Triad model, and the Triad II has now been reduced to about the size of the Big Ben putter by Bettinardi/Ben Hogan."
The MSRP of these new models is projected to be $189.
Phone: (800) 492-8230
March 23, 2005
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, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.
One writer who travels more than nearly anyone I know said his Sun Mountain's Club Glider Meridian Golf Travel Bag was a "game changer." He said he'd never travel again without it. After this jaunt to Northern Ireland, I have to agree.
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