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|The F.E.E.L. Technology insert for the STX Pitch Black II feels soft but delivers nice "pop" to the ball. (Courtesy of STX)|
STX Golf, the first company to put a polymer insert into the face of a putter, has thrived as other smaller putter manufacturers have come and gone.
The newest generation of STX putters, the Pitch Black series, represents a continuation of the quality and almost artistic styling that has kept STX Golf competitive over all these years.
The STX Pitch Black II ($150) is a sleek Anser-style putter, heel-shafted and face-balanced. The neon-green insert and paint job create a simultaneously soft feel but somewhat aggressive look -- an excellent combination for building confidence and draining putts.
The Pitch Black II has a black nickel head, double-bend shaft and a black grip. The head-to-grip ebony exudes a certain confidence.
The lettering and sightline are in neon-green, a popular combination these days on everything from equipment to apparel to golf bags. The putter head weighs in at a comfortable 350 grams, and the F.E.E.L. Technology insert provides, according to STX Golf, the maximum amount of friction and dwell-time upon contact. This, they say, promotes forward roll.
I took the Pitch Black II out to Lake of the Woods Golf Course (Mahomet, Ill.) and tested it both on the practice greens and on the steeply pitched greens of the facility's par-3 course. I was immediately impressed with the soft feel produced by the insert. Nevertheless, the ball almost sprang off the face, which was far more pleasing -- and predictable -- than inserts in some putters that feel sort of "mushy" at impact.
After a few rolls, I was able to get a good feel for speed even on lightning-fast downhill "touch" putts on the par-3 course. The main issue for me, however, was the 71-degree lie angle, which was a bit too oblique for my liking. I found it more difficult to get my eyes over the ball than with my normal putter, which sets up close to 10 degrees more upright.
To get a second opinion, I asked Bill Slough, a low double-digit handicapper who normally plays with a non-insert, Anser-style putter, to give the Pitch Black II a test run on the practice green.
"I like this one a lot," said Slough. "I could get used to this one really fast. I love the weight -- it's a little heavier than it looks and heavier than my putter. And that insert feels really soft, but the ball comes off it with some speed."
When I asked him about the lie angle, he said that he didn't find it to be a problem.
If you're a fan of Anser-style putters and are looking for a putter with a face insert that provides excellent feel, the Pitch Black II deserves serious consideration.
And if you prefer other putter-head styles, the line also includes flanged blade, mallet and mid-mallet styles. The nickel shaft can even be bent, if you're like me and prefer a bit more upright stance.
STX putters may be more difficult to find than those of bigger-name companies (the only STX Golf dealers in Illinois, for example, seem to be in the Chicago area), but it's worth the effort.
There's a reason, after all, that STX Golf has persevered when so many other small putter companies have folded: Once players find STX Golf, they don't often switch back to some other putter brand.
For more information, visit www.stxgolf.com.
June 28, 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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