PRODUCT REVIEW

STX Synch-3 Belly
Putter: The Putts
Just Start Dropping

By Kiel T. Christianson,
Senior Writer

LANSING, MI (August 2, 2002) -- The hottest putter design today both on and off the PGA Tour is called by some the "mid-length putter," but most of us know it colloquially as the "belly putter." Converts to this type of putter include Vijay Singh and Fred Couples. Singh won the 2000 Masters with one, and Couples won $410,000 in skins money at the 2002 Par-3 Shootout on the Threetops Par 3 Course at Treetops Resort .

Successes such as these are persuading others to give the non-traditional flat stick a try. In an interview after the Par-3 Shootout, Lee Trevino exclaimed, "I'm going out and getting a belly putter! I know I made fun of it earlier. Now I'm convinced."

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Although any putter head can be attached to a longer shaft to create a belly putter (which usually measure between 39" and 45"), several equipment companies are coming out with new belly putter designs. One of the best, and most widely used, of these is made by STX: the Synch 3 Belly Putter.

The Synch 3 Belly Putter is the latest in a long line of innovative putter designs by STX Golf, the company that first introduced face inserts into putters. The Synch 3 features STX's proprietary face inserts, including one that is the softest available in any putter today.

The putter head itself is also unique, combining STX's exclusive center-bullet weighted sweetspot with a face reminiscent in its shape of a bowtie. Finally, the Winn split grip is a super-soft, super tacky, imparting remarkable feel despite the overall substantial heft of the club.

We passed our 41" Synch 3 demo model around to a half dozen golfers, most of whom have experienced some putting issues within the last few months. The great thing about belly putters, after all, is the way they take your hands completely out of the swing. The "pendulum" stroke all golf instructors tell you to make comes simply from turning your shoulders and torso. As such, belly putters are practically yip-proof.

Without exception, everyone loved the Synch 3. The club was a bit short or a bit long for a few golfers, but once they found the correct anchor point - ranging from sternum to just left of their belt buckle, depending on their height and body shape - putts started dropping.

Personally, I sunk putts from everywhere on the practice green, but on the course, it took me almost nine holes to get comfortable. Short putts were hardest for me at first; my alignment was slightly off, and because I couldn't use my hands to adjust my stroke (as I apparently am used to doing with my regular putter), I missed several. (The 41" model is a bit short for me, as well.)

By the time I hit the back nine, however, I'd fixed my alignment and began one-putting from both far out and close in. The only difficult adjustment was due to the extremely soft elastomeric face insert. I play very soft golf balls, and combined with the insert, the point of contact felt almost squishy. But then I took out a harder ball, which normally gives me zero feel on the green, and began stroking beautiful putts that felt as good as my softer-covered balls with my usual putter. The firmer polyurethane insert would probably suit my preferred golf ball better.

All in all, I find myself as convinced as Trevino said he was. If I were to develop the yips tomorrow, I would grab my Synch 3 and never miss a beat. Even golfers without the yips should consider a belly putter like the Synch 3 if they find themselves making inconsistent strokes or battling alignment issues. The design represents an appealing option to both traditional putters and ultra-long "broomstick" putters.

STX Synch-3 Belly Putter Specs

Length: 41", 43", or 45"
Face insert: available in softer elastomeric or firmer polyurethane insert
Grips: Winn split grip
MSRP: $159.00
More information: www.stxgolf.com, or phone 800-STX-PUTT

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