Sho-Me Putters:
Show me the money!

By Kiel Christianson,
Senior Writer

BOSTON, Mass. (Oct. 18, 2003) – Tom Maurer, President and CEO of fledgling Green-Maurer Golf is proud of his new baby. “We have developed a better, and certainly different, putter than anything on the market,” proclaims Maurer.

What does it take for a guy like Maurer to launch a new company? For one thing, it requires a flagship product that will capture the attention – and money – of enough golfers to recoup investment capital. This product, then, needs to be special. Green Maurer’s Sho-Me Pro-Series One-Ball and Blade putters (MSRP $119 each) are unquestionably special. “The ‘Pro-Series’ brings together some 14 patent claims that will improve your putting,” says Maurer.

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More than two dozen prototype models preceded the final USGA conforming designs. The common thread running through them is an alignment aid and weighting system combined into, in the words of the USGA, “an integrated semi-circular, non-reflective plate, at the top of the head extending away from the face at an angle.”

Tom Maurer and partner Tim Green call the unique system “3-D” weighting, because it incorporates heel-toe weighting with the extra weight over the equator of the ball. Says Maurer, “There is no other putter on the market that actually has weight above the ball. All other putters put the weight behind the ball.”

Apparently the design is garnering fans already. The Sho-Me One-Ball model was just named “Best of the Best” by Rankmark, placing it in the top 10 of all putters tested. Quite a feat for a brand new company, as well as for a relatively inexpensive flat stick.

Design Features

The plate the USGA is talking about serves two functions. First, it raises the center of gravity of the putter higher than any other on the market. Two heavy brass weights are plugged into the back of this plate on both the One-Ball and Blade models. The second feature of the plate is a three-line alignment aid system consisting of a white center line and two outer lines set at an angle to the center line.

The way this aid works is unique: As you take your stance, the ball is reflected faintly in the matte-finish stainless steel of the plate. The three lines serve as a sort of arrow, which, when centered in the reflection of the ball, lets you know the putter face is square. (I’m not sure what the USGA’s definition of “non-reflective” is, but the plate definitely provides a second view of the ball.)

The One-ball is reminiscent of the wildly popular Odyssey 2-Ball putter. The One-Ball adds to the face-plate alignment system a second ball-sized white disk behind the putter face, which also has a line running through it to help with alignment. One quirk, however, is that the line on the disk and the center line on the face plate are at different heights. If your eyes aren’t directly over the putter head at set-up, and if your stance doesn’t result in a perfect lie-angle, it is tricky to get the top and bottom lines to align. One local club pro said that he suspected his pro-shop patrons would find the club too hard to align. “Players want simplicity,” he said, “and this is complicated.”

Maurer counters with the rationale behind the design: “This is exactly what we want [golfers] to do. Many ‘core’ market golfers set way back off the ball. This gets them up over the ball.”

The Blade is closer in design to a traditional blade, with the addition of the weighted, alignment-improving plate rising like Jim Furyk’s forehead above the putter face. The combination of the single-bend shaft and that precipitous plate make it look like you’ve got a forward-press at set-up, but it’s a very easy adjustment, and the hands are, after all, supposed to be ahead of the putter face at impact.

Both putters have excellent feel, despite the very heavy weighting of the One-Ball. The standard Winn putter grips are wonderful, and the white polymer inserts provider solid yet responsive feel. Most noticeably, the extremely high center of gravity provided by the brass plugs gets the ball rolling remarkably fast off the putter face. As the company claims in its press materials, this eliminates a lot of skidding and hopping.

The thing is, however, that the recently much-maligned skipping and hopping is, believe it or not, not always a bad thing. Have you ever wondered why your putter has between 3 and 6 degrees of loft? That loft is there to PURPOSELY elevate the ball upon impact. The idea is to get the ball up on top of the grass. Once upon a time, before the wide-spread use of fine bent grass and high-tech green mowers, putting surfaces were usually Bermuda grass or fine fescue, and were often grainy, if not shaggy. It was crucial to get the ball up on top of the grain, rather than driving it into the grain.

Despite better, faster, more uniform putting conditions today (in most parts of the country, anyway), it is still beneficial to get the ball up a little before the top-spin takes it to the cup. This is especially true when putting from the fairway or the frog hair.

How they perform

After several rounds and hours of unofficial testing on the practice green, both Sho-Me putters performed very well. Golfers we recruited to test the clubs were wary of the oddball, er, unique looks, but admitted that the lines on the raised plate (and aforementioned reflection) help with alignment. Overall, both testers, and I myself, found the Sho-Me putters to be solid performers with good feel.

The only real concern was putting from longer grass, either fairway or fringe. The great initial forward roll produced by the weighting system seems to make the ball dive into the longer turf, making it a bit tricky to judge the speed of the ball when it got to the putting surface.

One tester noted an intriguing, potentially very useful side-effect of the purportedly non-reflective semi-circular plate. On sunny days, the sunlight bouncing off the stainless steel can momentarily blind a competitor. If this unfortunate “accident” occurs just as your opponent is putting, the result can be a lot of skins.

Maybe they should call these the “Sho-Me The Money” Putters.

More information

Green Maurer Golf or

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.

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