By Kiel Christianson,
Yes! Golf has built a strong and devoted following for its putters, given a considerable boost by Retief Goosen, who claimed two U.S. Open titles using the small company's unique flatsticks to tame the world's most treacherous greens.
The key to Yes! Golf's success is the "C-grooves" in the faces of all its putters. They're not only deep but arranged in a sort of rainbow shape, and according to the company (and our own previous testing of the putters), they serve to get the ball rolling faster on the green than just about anything else on the market.
But this "little company that could" is not sitting back and letting the rest of the equipment manufacturers grab all the headlines with innovative shapes and precise CNC face-milling.
In fact, Yes! Golf has introduced a putter that is hands-down the most bizarre-looking contraption of 2008: the GrooveTube.
Depending on your perspective, the GrooveTube is either a total gimmick or sheer genius. The "tube" in the name refers to a 2-inch by 1 7/8-inch black tube that is welded to the back of the mallet-putter's head, directly behind the putter face.
The tube has a 3/8-inch slot carved out of the top of it, the beveled edge of which is outlined in yellow. On the inside bottom of the tube is a 3/8-inch yellow alignment line. When you're set up over the ball correctly, with your eyes in the proper position above the ball and the putter at the proper lie angle, the inside line is visible through the topside slot.
Of course, the putter face features the trademarked C-grooves, and the grip is the hallmark yellow, white, and black Winn model that is so distinctive even from afar.
The result is a putter that looks like some sort of plumber's tool or training aid. It's definitely the oddest thing on the market today.
As for performance, the GrooveTube, like its Yes! sister putters, gets the ball rolling lickity-split on the greens. The 385-gram head and 2-inch-high putter face take some getting used to, though, and it took several rounds of testing for me to feel comfortable with the putter's distance control (or, rather, my distance control with it).
Like any of the new alignment-improvement putters on the market, the GrooveTube's alignment aid can be a boon in practice, but, for golfers like me, might prove distracting during actual play. When things are going well on the greens, I completely ignore the alignment assistance. But when things are going badly, I find myself concentrating so hard on the alignment aid that distance control and green-reading go right down the tubes, so to speak.
One very nifty feature of the GrooveTube is that a golf ball fits snugly into the back of the tube, making for quick and secure ball pick-up. Very easy on the back.
One remaining question I have, however, is this: Considering that all of Yes! Golf's other putters are named after PGA Tour players' wives, I'm wondering if, maybe, one wife is nicknamed "GrooveTube." (And if she is, who is she? I want to party with her!)
If you want a putter that will roll the ball as purely as any on the market, and you like heavy mallets with ingenious alignment aids built in, the GrooveTube is for you - that is, if you like all of these things at a pretty steep price (MSRP $300).
I shared the GrooveTube with Randy Feese and Karl Newton, two low-double-digit handicappers from Illinois, to get their reactions. The putter elicited lots of laughs and jokes, but they liked the balance and feel quite a bit. When told the price, however, they laughed even harder and not in a nice way.
It appears that if a putter is extremely gimmicky-looking - even if the gimmick actually works - it may be rather hard to convince golfers to shell out a cartload of cash for it.
For more information, visit www.yesgolf.com.
September 26, 2008
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.