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|The Sync Series Belly Putter comes with either a red (firmer) or black (softer) elastomer face insert. (Courtesy of STX Golf)|
STX was the first sporting goods company to put a non-metal insert into a putter face back in the early 1980s, and it's been going strong ever since. STX inserts come in various degrees of softness, which provide various levels of feel.
The new STX Sync Series 7 Belly Putter ($130) is no different: It has feel that goes from the ball straight into your gut.
The STX Sync Series 7 Belly Putter has a heavy 400-gram head with a futuristic look to it -- an STX hallmark. The weight in the mallet head is distributed such that most of it is above the equator of the ball, promoting forward roll.
The model I took out to test had the company's proprietary red elastomer insert, which is firmer than the company's black insert. Nevertheless, the feel on well-struck putts was absolutely exquisite. You hit that sweet spot, you can tell immediately, as the buttery "thump" travels instantly all the way up into your belly.
The Series 7, however, suffered the same issues that all belly putters have. First, there's comfort. If you're not used to anchoring a club into your belly, it can be kind of uncomfortable. Second, although short putts are practically automatic with belly putters, longer ones are tough as judging distance with a belly putter is harder than with a regular-length putter. And third, as pointed out by Dave Huber, the director of golf at my home course, on longer putts it's hard not to collapse your lead knee on the backswing and sort of sway with your swing. Maybe some sort of stretching would be useful.
To get a third opinion, I asked Randy Feese, a 16-handicapper at my home course, for his take. Feese doesn't play a belly putter either, so admittedly, he was trying something completely new. Nevertheless, on the very first putt, he remarked how amazingly good the STX felt.
"Wow," said Feese, "I love how that feels. That insert is the best I've ever tried."
But, like me, Feese found the butt-end of the shaft uncomfortable in his gut. As I said, though, neither he nor I regularly play belly putters. Golfers who do will be used to the feeling.
For any golfer looking to try a new belly putter or switch from a regular flatstick to a belly model, the STX Sync Series 7 Belly Putter is an excellent option. I sank one 4-footer after another with the STX, including on my home course's par-3 course, which has some of the most difficult-to-putt greens I've ever played anywhere.
Anything beyond 6 feet or so, though, and speed became an issue -- but an issue that I'm sure would work itself out with more concerted practice.
As a side note, I've always wondered why more players don't carry two putters with them: A standard-length putter for long lag putts, and a belly putter for short ones. If Phil Mickelson can carry two drivers sometimes, I don't see why the average golfer who might struggle with the "yips" on short putts couldn't also carry a long putter to help get his or her hands out of the stroke on those knee-knockers. It's not against the rules.
But I digress. If you are looking for a belly putter, as either your primary putter or as a special short-putt flatstick, it would be difficult to find one that provides better feel than the STX Sync Series 7.
For more information, visit www.stxgolf.com.
June 6, 2012
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.
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