By Kiel Christianson,
Over the past several years, it seems as if golf equipment companies have been competing to see who can produce the most bizarre-looking putter. I know many golfers, however, who feel left behind in this race to get as far outside the box as possible.
There are those traditionalists out there who prefer an old-school flanged blade putter or, at most, a small mallet. For these golfers, Cleveland Golf's new VP milled line ($150) offers up-to-date alignment guidance and CNC milling incorporated into classic head designs.
The VP milled series comes in three models. The VP1 is a flanged blade with a plumber's neck. The VP2 is also a flanged blade but with a short slant neck. The VP3 is a compact mallet with a double-bend offset shaft. All models are CNC milled out of 304 stainless steel, with a platinum finish and the Dual Axis Alignment system.
Unlike a lot of current alignment aids, which can completely hijack putter head designs, the Dual Axis system is unobtrusive. On the back of the head of each model is a short, black line perpendicular to the putter face that meets a small notch cut into the top back of the putter head when the player's eyes are above it.
That's it. Very simple, very easy.
But does it work?
We tested both the VP1 (blade) and VP3 (mallet) over the course of a few rounds and on the practice green. After using an oversized mallet for the past year, I found it difficult to get used to the lighter weight of the VP1. The VP2 weighting was better, but the head still felt and looked small.
After several rolls, though, putts started dropping regularly with the VP3. The VP1, on the other hand, seemed to be pushing the ball right rather consistently.
Then I remembered the alignment aid. (Recall how I said it was "unobtrusive"?) At that point, both putters began feeling very natural in my admittedly ham-like mitts.
For a second opinion, I asked Jason Connolly, a 13-handicapper from Champaign, Ill., to roll a few putts with each, without telling him about the alignment aid. Connolly uses a TaylorMade Rossa flanged blade putter, so he liked the VP1 better. Opposite of me, he had trouble controlling the VP3 at first. When told about the Dual Axis alignment aid, he also started rolling the ball more consistently.
"Even though there's no insert," commented Connolly, "the ball comes off of both of them real soft. And I like the traditional look and set-up of both of them."
Cleveland's VP milled series is new but in an old sort of way. These are the sort of putters my grandfather—a fine putter in his day—would have used. Great lines, great look, great feel.
The only question is whether there are enough purists out there willing to shell out $150 for putters that look so unremarkable, so "normal," in this day of flat sticks that look more like branding irons or UFOs than golf clubs.
June 24, 2008
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.