PRODUCT REVIEW

Pole-Kat Long Putter:
A modern-day classic

By Kiel Christianson,
Senior Writer

AMHERST, Mass. (April 23, 2003) -- Recent controversies regarding COR and over-achieving golf balls have drawn considerable attention as golfers try to employ the latest technologies in improving their games. Predating these brouhahas by a decade and a half was a rather heated debate over whether or not to allow the long, or "broomstick," putter. Frank Thomas, USGA for 26 years, reports he recommended banning long and mid-length putters. He adds that this is the one decision that he was overruled on, "unfortunately."

The decision was fortunate, however, for Pole-Kat Golf, maker of the first mass-produced long putter. In 2003, the original 1985 Pole-Kat long putter is being re-introduced. Thanks to the resounding success of the mid-length or "belly" putter, golfers today appear more than willing to experiment with non-traditional putters and putting styles.

According to Jason Walden of Pole-Kat, the fact that the long putter's design "incorporates some of the same key sight alignment aids" as the hugely successful Odyssey Two-Ball Putter also played a role in the timing of the Pole-Kat's return to the marketplace.

Walden notes that a 1995 Golf Digest story on the death of long putters, in which the picture of a Pole-Kat in a coffin appeared, convinced the company to stop making these behemoths of the greens. Reports of the demise of the broomstick turned out to be premature, however.

Testing

We took the Pole Kat original long putter out to a few local practice greens for a series of demos, passing it around to golfers of various handicaps. The curious thing about putting is that no matter one's physical prowess, putting seems to be something that ANYONE should be able to do well, right?

Wrong.

Golfers of all stripes report no end of putting woes: yips, misalignment, handsy strokes, off-line strokes, etc. Long and belly putters address several of these complaints.

The precise three-point weighting design of Pole-Kat's long putter make it very easy to achieve an ideal "pendulum" motion, and the lines on the head aid in alignment. The few golfers whom we found who had tried a long putter in the past took right to the Pole-Kat. The majority, having not tried a broomstick before, required some coaching to feel comfortable.

The key with any long putter is to anchor the butt-end of the shaft into your sternum. Using a split grip, the left hand ensures the anchor, and the right hand makes the stroke. Some players prefer a standard thumb-on-top right-hand grip. Others prefer a sort of reverse-claw grip (more like a handshake, or playing an upright bass).

We found that the golfers we recruited were mainly of two sorts: Those who felt the putter would cure their flaws, and those who felt that the radical change in putter and putting style would not be worth any benefit that might result.

Who it's for, and who it's not

Any long putter - and specifically the Pole-Kat - is highly recommended for golfers who suffer from the yips. The pendulum stroke takes all of the small muscles in your hands and wrists out of the game. Keeping the clubhead on line is no problem at all compared to traditional putters.

If you have back problems, the long putter allows you to stand more upright over the ball and decreases pressure on the lower back immensely. And finally, if you tend to hit crisp approaches close to pins, the long putter may be a good choice, as it gives you such confidence on short putts that you can simply bash them into the back of the cup.

The Pole-Kat - or any long putter - can have detrimental effects on players' distance control. Long putts, especially those that broke significantly, became harder to judge with respect to speed. So if you tend to rely on lag putting and you already feel pretty confident in your short putts, there's probably no need to experiment with the longer flat sticks.

Verdict

The Pole-Kat original long putter is a real classic, to the extent that one can apply that term to one-time controversial technological advances. Its simple, clean lines make it appealing to the eye, and its weighting and balance - both specifically designed to fit the longer, heavier shaft - make it appealing to the eye. The Pole-Kat is also one of the most inexpensive long putters on the market (MSRP $120). So if you see in yourself some of the flaws that the long putter can fix, The Pole-Kat is a solid choice.

Pole-Kat Original Long Putter Specs

Loft: 3-degrees
Lie: 79-degrees
Shaft: center-shafted
Length: 48", 50"
Head weight: 475 grams
MSRP: $120

More information:
Tel. (937) 384-0003
Web: telescopicputters.com

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