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|The BackDraft GT+ OS-4's all-white head and excellent alignment lines serve to focus attention on the ball and on your stroke. (Courtesy of Tour Edge Golf)|
If you were asked to name the major performance-improving features that have appeared in putters over the past 15 years or so, the list you would come up with would probably include most of the following: built-in alignment aids, perimeter weighting, large mallet heads, face inserts and oversized grips.
You might also add "huge price tags" to the list, given that some putters incorporating these features cost more than $300.
The new BackDraft GT+ OS-4 by Tour Edge Golf is a welcome addition to the putter market. It includes all of the aforementioned features -- except the big price tag.
For just $49.99, the BackDraft GT+ OS-4 comes with a stock oversized black and white grip, intended to help keep the hands and wrists out of the stroke. In addition, the large, all-white mallet head focuses attention behind the ball onto the black-lined, ball-width alignment aid. And finally, the putter face contains a super-soft, polymer insert.
That's a veritable marching band worth of bells and whistles for less than $50.
We took the BackDraft GT+ OS-4 out to the practice green and the golf course, and we found it to perform comparably to much higher-priced flat sticks with similar design specs. The oversized grip takes some getting used to, but within the span of a few strokes it became pretty comfortable.
The insert is extremely soft and also takes some getting used to, especially if you're not used to putting with an insert putter. When you make square contact with the insert, it feels like you can absolutely bash the ball without hitting it too far past the hole.
The tricky part, though, is if you happen to strike the ball a bit on the upswing and miss the bottom of the insert, which doesn’t cover the entire putter face. When this happens, the same aggressive stroke will rocket your putt well past the hole.
On short putts, the BackDraft GT+ OS-4 is deadly -- great sight lines ensure perfect alignment, and the insert allows you to make a firm, confident stroke.
At greater distances, though, longer, less consistent strokes can lead to trouble: inconsistent contact with the insert can result in putts that end up way long or way short, depending on where the ball hits the clubface and where you were expecting it to contact the clubface.
On a few long putts, it also felt like the fear of hitting the ball thin (and long) had me compensating by striking somewhat downward on the ball, and the soft insert seemed to "trap" the golf ball and send it skidding for a foot or two before it began rolling.
Someday I will learn not to test new equipment during Men's Association rounds. On greens I know like the back of my hand, I had trouble dialing in the speed with the BackDraft GT+ OS-4. This speed issue led to three-putts on one-third of the holes, often leaving first putts well short or sending them sailing way long.
In order to get more opinions, I asked a couple of Men's Association members for their feedback.
Keith Gordy, a 14-handicap, liked the look but said it would take "a lot of practice" to get used to the oversized grip.
Jeff Trolia, a 13-handicap with experience playing with TaylorMade Rossa insert putters, said that it looked similar to the all-white Rossa Ghost line. He found the insert consistent and appealing.
Bottom line: If you're used to soft insert putter faces, the BackDraft GT+ OS-4 is a solid alternative to much higher-priced mallets. It has all the modern design innovations at less than half the price of its larger-name competitors. And the stock oversized grip is much more cost-effective than getting your current putter regripped if you want to reduce "handsiness" in your stroke.
Visit www.touredge.com for more information.
September 15, 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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