Lost To Time: Aviation Country Club of Detroit, Michigan

Lost To Time: Aviation Country Club of Detroit, Michigan

Although it now is lost to time,  in its brief existence, The Aviation Country Club … Read more.

The post Lost To Time: Aviation Country Club of Detroit, Michigan appeared first on GolfBlogger Golf Blog.

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The Club Report: Cleveland CG Black Driver

The Club Report: Cleveland CG Black Driver

Post image for The Club Report: Cleveland CG Black Driver

Attention lower swing speed golfers. Today we’ve got something just for you.

I know…it’s about time.

As participants in golf forums and other golf-related communities we’ve been conditioned to believe that the average golfer swings 110 MPH and carries the ball at least 300 yards (and that’s uphill, at sea level, and into a headwind).

Can you believe we had a reader question the validity of our Most Wanted Driver test because the average distance across all testers was below 290 yards? The unrealistic expectations and the quest for distance have gotten that far out of hand.

Let’s spend today getting real about some things. Let’s spend today talking about a driver for the guy who doesn’t hit the ball 250.

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Shifting Focus

The golf companies have increasingly catered to the gearhead, and while average golfers like shiny things that move too, it means more, and often complex adjustability.

The trend towards low and forward CG positions does have the potential to create massive distance, but it offers little help to the guy who struggles to get the ball in the air or who like many of us, has a tendency to work the face rather than work the ball.

When you consider all of that, it’s actually ironic, though not surprising, that a club like Cleveland’s 2015 CG Black – a club actually designed for truly average golfers – occupies a space a bit outside of the mainstream. There’s just a hint of absurdity in that.

Slower swing speed guys, this one is really and truly for you.

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The Competitive Set

When we compared CG Black to the majority of Speed-centric drivers on the market, we found that only Wilson’s D200 at 268 grams is in the same weight class. TaylorMade’s AeroBurner (300g), and even Callaway’s lightweight-ish V-Series (290g) aren’t really playing in exactly the same space.

The CG Black is for guys who want a lightweight driver…a really lightweight driver. At only 260g, the Cleveland CG Black is the lightest driver on the market right now.

Cleveland CG Black Driver Specs

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CG Black Technology

On a comparative basis, it’s noteworthy that in the process of evolving the CG Black from 2012 to 2015, Cleveland’s engineers shifted the center of gravity lower and closer to the face.  Now all of that happened within the relative vacuum of the Cleveland CG Black line, so a lower and more forward center of gravity doesn’t mean a low/forward CG. The new CG Black isn’t designed to compete with TaylorMade’s R15 or Callaway’s Big Bertha Alpha 815 Double Black Diamond. We’re still talking about a driver designed to help average golfers get the ball in the air.

Like many drivers on the market today, the CG Black features variable face thickness. The idea is make the face more responsive in the areas where average golfers tend to miss. Face design coupled with MOI is where forgiveness comes from.

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Speed through weight reduction is gaining in popularity with most companies now offering something that either qualifies as ultralight or is designed to compete with ultralights. Cleveland’s CG black is on the extreme end of that ultralight range. Of the 260 grams of total weight, 187g of that is in the head, while the 44g Mitsubishi Bassara shaft accounts for the bulk of the rest. You can do the math yourself to figure out the grip weight.

The totality of the design contributes to what Cleveland calls Low Swing MOI. Now is a good time to make sure everyone understand the distinction between head MOI and Cleveland’s Swing MOI. High MOI in the head is desirable. It’s where forgiveness comes from. Lower Swing MOI, according to Cleveland, is desirable because it produces more speed with the same effort.

Everybody wants more speed…at least that’s what all the commercials say.

Aesthetics

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The CG Black offers a slightly rounded shape, a matte black crown, and absolutely no alignment aid. The only crown detail, blue accents on the trailing edge, is subtle-enough that most won’t notice it at address. While you might call CG Black a game-improvement driver, the overall design proves that game-improvement doesn’t need to be in your face. Much like the Classic line, CG Black reflects a modern take on a traditional aesthetic.

Other details include a slightly shallow face, and while difficult to explain in any meaningful way, the majority of golfers who sole driver at address will appreciate the way the heal-side edge contours hug the turf.

Cleveland put a fair amount of effort into refining the sound (and consequently the feel) of the CG Black driver. The addition of an internal rib creates a higher frequency sound at impact, which most will likely prefer over a deeper thud. The result is a club that feels more alive at impact.

Performance

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Everything we’ve talked about is all well and good, but doesn’t it really boil down to how the driver performs?

Because of its specific and arguably narrower market focus, Cleveland declined to have CG Black included in our Most Wanted Test, but it did provide us with samples for testing. So while not specifically part of the test itself, a subset of our testers (those within CG Black’s target audience) did hit the CG Black driver during the test.

When we look at key metrics like swing speed, ball speed, and distance (total and carry) it’s not surprising that for our golfers within its target audience, the CG Black outperformed low/forward CG designs like the TaylorMade R15, Callaway Double Black Diamond, Cobra FLY-Z+, as well as a majority of the sub-460cc drivers.

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Those drivers are generally designed for lower launching, lower spin players. They’re not designed to produce higher club head speeds or help the golfer get the ball in the air.

Among the drivers in our test, and likely across the entire market, the closest comparison to the Cleveland CG Black is the Wilson D200, and so we thought it could be interesting to take a look at a direct comparison.

The Data

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As you can see, the two drivers performed quite similarly and depending on what exactly it is you’re looking for in a driver, you could probably make a case for either.

When we take a deeper dive into our data we find a bit clearer of a dividing line. For the subset of testers who swing above 85 MPH (the range was roughly 86-91 MPH), the Wilson D200 put up better numbers (nearly across the board), while for our testers under 85 MPH (roughly 78-84 MPH), the results were better – again, nearly across the board – with the Cleveland CG Black.

While the results of our larger tests suggest the D200, and other fast drivers like AeroBurner and V-Series should have wider reach within the market, for lower swing speed players, particularly those below 85 MPH, Cleveland’s CG Black is an intriguing option.

The Takeaway

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If you swing more than 90 MPH, the Cleveland CG Black probably isn’t for you. If you’re happily playing a TaylorMade SLDR or something else of that ilk, it’s probably not for you either, and that’s okay…at least it should be.

Much to Cleveland’s credit the company isn’t taking the usual this driver is for anyone who wants more distance route. Instead the company is being specific and honest about who is most likely to benefit for the CG Black.

Unfortunately that probably also means the CG Black won’t  grab the same level of attention as the marketplace juggernauts. All things to all people is what the market likes. Still, if you’re a slow to moderate swing speed player looking for help getting the ball in the air, and who wants to have fun hitting the driver again, then take a look at Cleveland’s CG Black.

The 2015 Cleveland CG Black driver is available in 9°, 10.5°, and 12°. Retail price is $349.99.

MyGolfSpy

The Club Report – Miura CB57 Irons

The Club Report – Miura CB57 Irons

Post image for The Club Report - Miura CB57 Irons

3.5 Years…Really?

It seems almost unfathomable, but it’s been 3.5 years since we took a close look at a set of Miura irons.

That’s the thing about Miura…in a time where even the most conservative of golf companies are releasing irons on a predictable 2-year cycle, Miura seems oblivious to the calendar. Miura designs are timeless and the company’s release cycles reflect that.

New products are released only when there is a reason, and only when they are absolutely ready.

Miura – A Very Brief Intro

For those as yet unfamiliar with the Miura brand, here’s a quick list of what you need to know.

  • Irons are forged at the Miura factory in Himeji Japan to exacting specifications and tight tolerances
  • Miura disavows the idea of a stock offering. Each Miura set is built to the golfer’s individual specifications
  • Miura clubs are available exclusively through Miura fitters/dealers

MIURA CB57-1

About the CB57

The CB57 is Miura’s first new iron offering since the MB-001, which was released in October of 2013. It’s been a year and half between releases, and it’s not like the CB57 supersedes anything in the Miura lineup. With Miura newer often also means different.

The CB57 is positioned comfortably between Miura’s MB-001 blade and the CB-501 cavityback. It’s more forgiving than the former, but a bit more compact than the latter. Those alternatives along with the PP-9003, and Miura’s legendary small or ‘baby’ blade remain current in the Miura lineup.

The  CB57 is part of Miura’s Series 1957 lineup, which also includes the baby blades and K-Grind wedges. Named for the year in which Miura Golf was founded, and denoted by the 1957 crest, clubs bearing the Series 57 distinction are the most favored designs of the company. Series 1957 clubs are benchmark products in the company’s history. They are the most revered among the Miura offerings.

Our set of CB57 irons was built to my specifications and assembled by our friend Josh Chervokas at the New York Golf Center. At the risk of offering a shameless plug, when you’re in the greater NYC area, you absolutely must add the New York Golf Center to your list of stops. Josh and his team are among the most knowledgeable and respected fitters and builders in the golf industry.

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Aesthetics

One of the various Miura taglines is “Commitment to Tradition“. The CB57 is most certainly in-line with that mantra. While technically a medium-sized cavityback, the CB57 features one of the most compact heads currently in production. As others have moved to larger footprints, even in their more player-centric designs, Miura continues to produce irons for golfers who love irons.

Simple, understated, and unquestionably beautiful. Miura knows no other way.

Toplines are absolutely minimal by the modern standard, as is offset. It’s a virtual certainty that some will find the design intimidating. On aesthetics alone, the Miura CB57 probably wouldn’t be your first choice as someone looking to begin the transition from game-improvement irons.

For players who are either accustomed to, or simply prefer the look of a more compact iron, however; the vintage good looks of Miura’s latest offering will be one of the more appealing designs you’re likely to come across.

MIURA CB57-3

Sound & Feel

Miura’s steel is the topic of some debate. The company certainly professes to have a superior product, while detractors argue that steel is steel and what Miura uses can’t possibly be better than anyone else’s. I’m not about to delve into the finer points of metallurgy, but I will say that between the forging process, and the spin-milled hosel, Miura has engineered a superior feeling iron. We can haggle over Mizuno and a few others, but sufficed to say, Miura’s offerings are in the top tier.

I’m spoken about it in the past. Those accustomed to the feel of a Mizuno forging may find Miura offerings (including the CB57) a tad clickier, but my opinion is that shot for shot, no iron provides more rewarding feedback than Miura.

We must also acknowledge that feel is completely subjective and so while one of our club testers (a low single-digit golfer who currently play Titleist blades) described the CB57 as “the most f#%$ing incredible feeling iron I’ve ever hit“, we each have our unique preferences, and yours may lay elsewhere. I’m totally cool with that.

For me, hitting the CB57 made me realize how much I miss hitting Miura irons.

MIURA CB57-26

Performance

Given that all Miura irons are custom built, it’s difficult to really compare Miura to an off-the-rack offering. To provide a general sense of how the CB57 performs, however, we hit it side by side with a modern blade offerings. Noteworthy, while the irons tested were built to the same playing length, the CB57 is a degree stronger in the 4-iron, 2 degrees stronger in the 7-iron, and 1 degree stronger in the pitching wedge. All of this suggests that, number for number, the CB57s should be a bit longer.

The Miura CB57s are shown in blue, our control blade in red.

miura-chart-2

In the long irons, the Miura CB57 produced similar launch and spin numbers while carrying an average of just under 5 yards farther (likely due to ballspeeds that were on average, 3MPH faster).  Noteworthy is that across all shots, the CB57 produced a tighter dispersion pattern, and was, on average, closer to the target line.

Miura-4-iron-chart-1

In the middle irons, the Miura CB57 launched just under a degree lower, produced 400 RPM less spin, and carried an average of roughly 4 yards farther. Ballspeed numbers again favored the CB57. Despite the initial launch conditions, differences in peak height were negligible, and the dispersion pattern was once again tighter for the CB57.

Miura-7-iron-chart

As irons get shorter, loft becomes less of a contributing factor in distance. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that despite launching lower and spinning less, the CB57 was only  marginally longer than the blade we tested against. Comparatively speaking, the CB57 showed significantly better dispersion as well.

Miura-pw-chart

The Takeaway

While it’s reasonable to suggest that the CB57 probably isn’t the best option for mid to high handicap golfers, our testing suggests that for better golfers who prefer the look and performance of a more traditionally designed iron, Miura’s latest offering brings more to the table than just a pretty face.

While nearly every aspect of the design begs to be in the hands of a better player, Miura believes that golfers should play whatever clubs bring them the most pleasure. The subtext is that it doesn’t always need to be about shooting the lowest score. There is enjoyment to be found in the game itself.

MIURA CB57-20

That’s thinking that should be easy to rally behind.

As a current game-improvement player I managed to convince myself that what I’m playing feels almost as good as the CB-501s I previously gamed. 3 swings with the CB57 and I’ve realized the extent to which I’ve fooled myself. It’s nowhere near the same. I’ve rediscovered perfection and I’m finding it difficult to walk away.

Pricing and Availability

Pricing for Miura CB57 irons begin at $275 per iron (custom fit and built), and are available through an authorized Miura Dealer near you.

MIURA CB57-14

More Information

Web: MiuraGolf.com
Twitter: @MiuraGolfInc
Facebook: MiuraGolf

Miura CB57 Gallery

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MyGolfSpy

The Club Report: Bputters Hammer

The Club Report: Bputters Hammer

Post image for The Club Report: Bputters Hammer

By Dave Wolfe

•   Win a Custom Bputter of Your Choice   •

See the instructions at the end of this article about how you can win a Bputter of your very own!

Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ’em

You’ve probably read enough of my stuff to know that there was no chance that we were going to make it through an article about a putter named Hammer without at least one MC Hammer reference. Prepare yourself for a none too subtle Zolex reference somewhere as well.

Yesterday, we got to know a little more about Bputters as a company, hearing from it’s owner Antonio, and checking out some of the amazingly diverse putters that they build. When you consider the variations with the metal, model, finish, and other options, you get possible combinations somewhere in the hundreds.

Today, we are going to take a closer look at the Bputters Hammer that Antonio customized to my playing specs and preferences. You’ll get to see how Bputters customized the Hammer for me, and at the same time likely visualize what options you would select for your custom Hammer.

The form of this model resembles a hammer, a tool that can be used with great force but that can also be wielded with delicacy and precision. This model boasts a rugged yet lineal design.
-Bputters

 

Bputters Hammer-15

Specifications: Bputters Hammer

  • Material: 1-piece CNC Milled 303 Stainless
  • Head weight: 330g
  • Loft: 4°
  • Lie: 71° (2° Flat)
  • Toe Hang: 4:30
  • Length: 34.5 inches
  • Dexterity: Right
  • Offset: Full-shaft
  • Grip: Italian Leather Pistol Grip
  • Shaft: Chrome True Temper
  • Price: Starting at 339 € (about $390 US)

Impressions: Looks

Bputters Hammer-01

This Hammer was finished with Bputters’ Black Pearl finish. You should be able to get a pretty good vibe for the finish from the photos, but the photos don’t completely do justice to the subtle hues found within. It’s stunning. There is some real depth in the darkness. It’s a darkness that is punctuated by color.

When you look at the putter from different angles, you pick up all kinds of reds, greens, yellows, and more. It is, again, stunning. The polish is mirror-like. Just look at the cavity lettering reflecting on the flange.

Glare is not the issue that you might think when you look at the glossy finish. The Black Pearl isn’t distractingly bright or reflective, even in full sun. Check out the gallery below to see shots taken in direct light. In the photos, as well as in person, the putter actually appears darker in sunslight. Perhaps the finish should be renamed Black Hole, as not even light can escape it. Of course, you can get a sun reflection off it, if you hit it at the right angle. It’s just tougher to get that reflection than one might think.

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Outside of the finish, the geometry of the Hammer is unique. The Hammer sweeps up from the bumper and the heel to the shaft, while being more rounded at the toe. The top edge is thick and quite blocky when compared to the sweeping edges at the edge of the cavity. It still has the Anser pedigree common to most of today’s heel/toe weighted putters, but the Hammer takes that classic design in a new direction.

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Feel

Bputters Hammer-04

The Hammer has the classic 303 Stainless Steel feel. It’s not as soft as carbon, giving a bit more pop when you roll the ball. What I found much more interesting about the Hammer was the feedback that the Hammer provides. You get a bit of that forged-iron feedback with the Hammer. Strike the sweet spot and it is as buttery smooth as any other putter I’ve rolled. Miss that spot, and you know it immediately. After you putt with the Hammer for a while you can fine tune this awareness. It’s almost like it has a built in training aide. You know if you were even slightly heel or toe with the strike.

Yep, I said it. I sometimes miss the sweet spot when I putt. Maybe some of you do too. The Hammer lets me know, and that knowledge should lead to improvement.

Alignment

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Oh no! Someone forgot to put at sight line on the putter!

That’s right, this Hammer is naked. No dot, no line. Nothing to distract from the nice thick top, the square line of the face, and the edges of the bumpers. As one who prefers all things naked, I was very excited to see that no alignment aides was an option with the Hammer. (Someone really needs to make “I Putt Naked” t-shirts…)

Should you be one that likes a line, or a dot, Bputters can take care of you as well.

Though it doesn’t really fall under the heading of alignment, that address photo above shows how the heel and toe sections visually blend together, even though the bumpers are quite different. Overall, you get a nice rectangular shape at address.

Performance

Bputters Hammer-02

I’ve already mentioned the feedback that one feels when putting with the Hammer. Though I made it sound like I was hitting the ball all over the face in that section, I actually found it quite easy to put repeatable strokes on the ball with the Hammer.

It definitely gates through the stroke, perhaps more than it’s toe hang implies. Eyeballing the Hammer, one can see that the front end of the putter is a little blockier, and likely more massive than the sweeping-edges rear. Regardless, that toe does swing. Not so much that I’d call this a strong-arc putter, but with a bit more emphasis than some of the other similar putters that I have swung.

My Hammer came gripped with the Bputters red leather pistol grip. The grip is not as tacky as a perforated leather grip, but it is not slick, even in the current cold and damp weather. It has a real interesting shape as well, with a small diamond-like feature at the lower hand position. While I’m not sure of the diamond’s design intention, I found that it was very helpful in ensuring that my hands held the grip in the same spot each time. Anything that promotes consistency with the putter should improve consistency when putting.

Fit-For-Stroke

This Bputter’s Hammer putter fits a Slight Arc Stroke, but a different shaft could fit both strong and straight strokes as well.

FIT_FOR_STROKE-1-Slight

Final Thoughts: Bputters Hammer

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I am very impressed with the Bputters Hammer. The finish is amazing. Communication with Antonio about my specs and customization was easy and prompt. Putter aside, I love to use gear from companies where you can feel the company’s personal investment. Bputters are special because Antonio takes the time to make them special.

With a price tag approaching $400, the Hammer is not cheap. I’m sure that some of you would be quick to let me know how you putt great with your $3 Goodwill putter, thinking that a $400 putter won’t make you play any better. To you I would say this, you could have a point, but perhaps not. Here are a couple of things to consider.

Price aside, you may actually putt better with a custom putter. If you know your ideal putter specs, and you get a putter made to match those specs, how can you not putt better? It’s like putting your size 34 waist into size 34 pants. Proper fit equals proper performance. Bputters can make a putter that fits you. Putting better with that fit putter seems logical.

In terms of price, let’s look to another Italian company, Lamborghini. When I was younger, I was in love with the Lamborghini Countach. It was my dream car, generating lots of fantasies of owning one and driving everywhere. Low and behold, I have yet to own one as they are more expensive than I can afford. Do I decry the existence of Lamborghini, going online to say that people should just drive to the store in less expensive Civics? Of course not. Instead, I daydream about the Countach.

The Hammer from Bputters is not even Lamborghini expensive. It’s got a premium price tag, that’s true. However, its price is in the ballpark with milled, off-the-rack Camerons and milled Odyssey putters. Moreover, when you buy a putter from Bputters, Antonio takes care of you personally, meaning it’s not off the rack. It was made for you. I know that these putters are out of the price range for some, but based upon what you get I don’t think that they are overpriced by any stretch.

Pre-emptive price rant aside, the Hammer from Bputters is a great looking and feeling putter, and Bputters should be part of the conversation for anyone looking to pick up that special, custom fit putter.

As I said before, Italy is only a keyboard away.

WEBSITE   //   TWITTER   //    FACEBOOK

Win a Custom Bputter

Bring a little bit of Italy to your very own golf bag. One lucky commenter below will be chosen at random in a week to win a custom Bputter. To win, all you need to do is head over to the Bputters site and check out the options available, and then leave a comment below describing how you would build your custom putter. Only one entry per person.
Tap into your inner putter designer and make something amazing!


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BPutters Grip Collage
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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

The Club Report: Buzelli STA-1 Putter

The Club Report: Buzelli STA-1 Putter

Post image for The Club Report: Buzelli STA-1 Putter

By Dave Wolfe

A little while back, we took a look at the brand new putter company Buzelli Golf. In case you missed it, we let Ryan Buzelli introduce us to his fledgling putter company, telling us all about his motivation for starting the company and about his putter making dreams. If you missed it, you can read all about it right here.

While we learned a bunch about Ryan Buzelli and Buzelli Golf in that article, one thing was noticeably absent, information about Buzelli golf’s putter. We learned about the man, but not much about his creation. Today we take care of that omission.

Win a Buzelli Golf STA-1 Putter. Details at the End of the Post

The Buzelli Golf STA-1

Buzelli Golf-12

There she is in all of her ebony majesty. The STA-1 is the first putter model produced by Buzelli Golf. Now before the just another Anser crowd gets unruly, Ryan Buzelli knew full well that he was making a version of the Anser. Shockingly, he did this on purpose. He wanted something familiar, given that potential customers would not be familiar with the Buzelli Golf name (yet).

I think that this is a solid tactic. The Anser is a familiar shape, and as so it should be seen as a less risky purchase. If the first Buzelli putter was metal madness, it would be all to easy to dismiss it. The large manufacturers sell Anser variants buy the ton, thus giving them the fiscal freedom for more experimental designs like the Futura or Sabertooth. Those shapes would be a huge risk for a one-man-in-his-garage shop.

Those shapes would be a huge risk for a one-man-in-his-garage shop.

The STA-1 is an Anser-style putter, but why would one ever make the same putter that you can already buy? Though Ryan wanted to play it safe with the STA-1, he also wanted to make his putter an interpretation of the Anser, rather than just a pure copy. Here is what he says separates his STA-1 from the others.

What Makes the STA-1 Different from a Typical Anser?

  • Hosel shortened for more connection with your eye to your hands
  • Sole widened for more stability
  • Heel to toe lengthened for more balance
  • Center of gravity enlarged for more consistency
  • New micro deep milled face for feel
  • Biased bottom shelf for added control

Buzelli Golf-05

There is a whole bunch of Anser DNA in this putter, but the differences are noticeable. The tweaks in length and width definitely stand out, while some of the other alterations are more subtle. Let’s take a look at the specs of the STA-1 and then dive a bit deeper.

Specifications: Buzelli STA-1

Material: CNC Milled Carbon Steel Head weight: 355g
Loft: 3°
Lie: 70°
Toe Hang: 4:00
Length: 32.5-37 inches
Dexterity: Right (Left coming in 2015)
Offset: Full-shaft
Grip: Buzelli branded Pure Grip
Shaft: True Temper Stepped – Chrome
Price: $269.95

Impressions: Looks

Buzelli Golf-14

At first glance, we are looking at a very traditional Anser-style putter. Ryan went with a classic design with his first putter, but there are some Buzelli modifications there.

I found the visual effect of the wider sole to be the most appealing. It’s not as wide as an Odyssey #1 Wide or a Cameron Squareback, but it is wider than the typical Anser. That lengthening of the head from heel to toe keeps the putter from looking snub-nosed like the #1 Wide or the Squareback. I find it very visually pleasing at address.

The black finish on the carbon steel head is uniformly applied, and very dark. The white sight line really stands out against this black background. The face milling is deep, and sharp, and the milled lines on the bumpers add a nice touch of cosmetics.

Feel

Buzelli Golf-18

This is one soft feeling putter. I knew it was going to be carbon-steel soft when I rolled it, but I was still surprised a bit at just how soft it was. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time with stainless lately…

Even with the softness, it puts a firm roll on the ball. I chalk this up to the aggressive face milling. Those grooves are deep. There’s no lack of texture on this face. I would love to see how the ball reacts at impact with a super slow-motion camera. You can just feel the face grabbing the surface of the ball and rolling it along. On a wet morning session, the milling also was adept at grabbing all nature of green debris. It’s that deep and sharp.

The putter does feel a bit head heavy, as one might expect with a 355g head on a (as requested) 34.5” putter. It’s not a true hinderance of feel, but to make the STA-1 my gamer, I would probably pull the standard Pure grip and put on something just a touch heavier and/or larger.

Alignment

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Nothing fancy here. The single sight line complements the squared geometries of the STA-1 head. Perhaps Ryan can add different alignment options, such as top line dots, multiple lines, or no line at all, to future versions. It would look amazing without that line.

Though subtle, you can see in the photo above that the milling on the bumpers also helps to visually square the face at address.

Performance

Buzelli Golf-13

The true test of performance for the Buzelli Golf STA-1 will come in the 2015 Most Wanted Blade Putter competition, but I’ll share with you some of my performance impressions.

The review putter was built to my specs (34.5”, 2° flat) and immediately felt at home in my hands. The putter swings with a very balanced cadence. At no point did I feel the need to manipulate my swing to compensate for imbalances in the head. It opens and closes just like you would expect it too.

Even with the sight line, not my usual preference, I found the STA-1 very easy to aim, with misses being primarily due to distance. Distance control should improve with familiarity and is likely because the head does feel a touch heavier to me.

Fit-For-Stroke

The Buzelli STA-1 putter fits a Slight Arc Stroke

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Final Thoughts: Buzelli Putters

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Ryan has a long road ahead of him if he is going to be able to quit his day job and make putters. I say this not because of the quality of his putter, but because of the competitive nature of the marketplace. If it was just about the putter, I’d say that Ryan would easily be able to use Buzelli Golf to pay his mortgage. It’s a great putter, especially when you consider that it is his first.

$269.95 for a milled carbon putter is not outrageous based upon competitor pricing, but it does put Buzelli Golf into the ring with the big operators. It’s tough for the small guy to carve out market space against such milled  behemoths as Cameron, Bettinardi, and Odyssey. Ryan Buzelli has a great attitude and a pretty fine first putter. Perhaps those are the only weapons that he needs.

It has been a very slow process. Baby steps essentially. I am just a normal guy, living the ultimate dream. A hands-on, trial and error type of person. A no name just trying to outshine these major manufacturers. It will take some time, but I am certain, Buzelli Golf will prevail.
Ryan Buzelli

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The Club Report: Bridgestone True Balance Putters

The Club Report: Bridgestone True Balance Putters

Post image for The Club Report: Bridgestone True Balance Putters

By Dave Wolfe

To Sell Stuff, You Need Stuff To Sell

It was a week or so ago when Tony mentioned that Bridgestone was planning on making a big golf market impact in 2015. While we don’t really know what the “big impact” will look like, I’m willing to bet that it will involve bringing new gear to the consumer.

OK, so that’s not the most revelatory of statements. If a company wants to sell stuff, they need to have stuff to sell. For Bridgestone, I believe that first of all it means that they need to get more gear out there for the consumer to try. People who have tried Bridgestone clubs always rave about them, but most of us will never find them in the local shop. I have a huge shop near me, and it is lacking Bridgestone clubs to demo. Hopefully improved access will be part of the 2015 plan.

Making existing designs available is a good start, but probably not a plan that will equate to big impact. For that, Bridgestone needs new gear. They need better gear. More innovative. They need golf gear that separates them from the other companies in the marketplace. They will need to standout in the already crowded shop for consumers to take notice. I’m sure we will see huge advertising campaigns like they’ve done with their balls. When the B330 swing-speed-fitted balls launched, they changed the ball marketplace. Their new club lines will need similar innovation if they are to do anything sustainable in the market.

Fact is, they need to take some risks. Some of their designs need to be on the edge of technology, and also on the edge of golfing consumer acceptance. The golf pool is very full already and Bridgestone will need to make some waves if they hope to hit open water. Slapping a big “B” logo on a boring cavity back iron or marginal driver will not get it done.

Although it’s not 2015 yet, Bridgestone is already showing the golf consumer that they are willing to take some risks. Today we will look at the Bridgestone True Balance putters. This line is a risky venture. Bridgestone is wading in uncharted waters. The True Balance putters are that different from other putters out there. When you swing one, you will feel something unlike any other putter that you have swung before.

I know that that last paragraph sounds like something a carnival barker would say. Come and see the True Balance putter. It’s right between the strong man and the bearded lady. Calling the True Balance design freaky is a bit over the top, but it definitely is not your usual fare.

Making a putter line that deviates from the field is a risky, but becomes less risky if the different and innovative design actually works.

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Specifications: Bridgestone True Balance Putters

  • Head Material: Stainless steel with dual layer groove insert
  • Head Weight: 360 grams
  • Loft: 4°
  • Lie: 71°
  • Shaft Weights: 103 g (steel) / 33 g (True Balance graphite)
  • Grip Weights: 83 g (rubber) / 10 g (Standard EVA) / 20 g (Oversize EVA)
  • Traditional Models: TD-01, TD-02, & TD-03
  • True Balance Models: TD-01 & TD-03

 

True Balance Technology: The Grips

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I am still working to finish up my degree in polymer chemistry, so I’ll defer to the internet for information on Ethyl Vinyl Acetate.

Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) is the copolymer of ethylene and vinyl acetate. It’s an extremely elastic material that can be sintered to form a porous material similar to rubber, yet with excellent toughness. It is three times as flexible as low-density polyethylene (LDPE), showing tensile elongation of 750% with a peak melting temperature of 250°F (96°C).

This material has good barrier properties, low-temperature toughness, stress-crack resistance, hot-melt adhesive waterproof properties, and resistance to ultraviolet radiation. EVA has little or no odor and is competitive with rubber and vinyl products in many electrical applications.

Porex Plastic Manufacturing

I realize that most putter articles are totally devoid of plastic polymer discussion, but it is relevant with the Bridgestone True Balance line because the EVA grip is so atypical. I was very curious about the material, because it seemed like it was made from the same plastic foam as swimming pool noodles. As it turns out, I wasn’t far off as the noodles are made of polyethylene. Maybe that is far off. Again, not a polymer chemist.

Getting to the point, my initial take on the puffy yellow grip was that it was very light, and comfortable to hold, but potentially fragile as it gets used to putt, and also as it is moved in and out of the bag. Learning a little about ethyl vinyl acetate gives me a little more confidence in the longevity of the grip. Time will tell if it is truly a strong enough material to stand up to the rigors of play. More on the play experiences in a bit.

The EVA grip is available in both standard and oversize sizes.

Now I just need to go an look up sintering.

 

True Balance Technology: The Shaft

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Graphite putter shafts have been around for a while now. Matrix has been making them for a few years. I believe that the Bridgestone True Balance line is the first retail putter line to feature graphite shafts though.

The huge difference between the other graphite putter shafts in the market and the Bridgestone True Balance shaft is weight. The previously mentioned Matrix putter shafts weigh in at 125-145 grams. The True Balance shaft is only 33 grams. For reference, the steel shaft is 103 grams.

The 33 gram shaft, combined with a EVA grip that weighs 10 or 20 grams depending on size, results in a putter where the vast majority of the weight is in the 360 gram head. That’s roughly 90% of the weight in the head.

 

True Balance Technology: The Circus Trick

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The above photo shows one of the most interesting features of the TD-03 putter. You can set it on the ground, and it will stand up on its own. There is so much mass in the head that it anchors the club to the Earth, thus preventing it from tipping over. Bridgestone should run a contest where people take photos of the putter standing up in interesting places. I’d love to see where people would put it.

Anyway, there must be a point to the head heavy design. It must relate in some way to how it plays. The balancing is a great feature if you want to keep grass off of the grip when you are chipping, but for some reason, I don’t think that allowing the putter to stand on its own was the designers goal.

So what is the point of the True Balance putter’s unique head-heavy weight distribution?

 

“If you can feel the head, you can control the head”

Line, Roll, and Speed

I don’t have the skill of a tour player, and definitely not the knowledge of a Top 100 instructor. Even so, I am pretty sure that if someone can effectively account for line, roll, and speed when putting, then he or she will probably putt very well. If you struggle with one of these areas (or more than one), the True Balance system is here to help. Bridgestone says:

  • Balance point less than 5″ from sole provides incredible feel and connection to the putter head, improving speed and distance control
  • Naturally “gates” through the stroke and squares to the target, eliminating the most common miss of short, right
  • Make more putts!

If you can feel the head, you can control the head.” is the quote on the True Balance product page. I interpret this as an awareness of the position of the head, and what it is doing during the stroke, should allow the golfer to make sure that the head is in the correct position when it impacts the ball.

This is an interesting take. Bridgestone is marketing “incredible feel” with their putters, as opposed to something more traditionally marketed, like a unique alignment scheme. I suppose counter-balanced designs also market “feel”, but those go in a totally different direction. The counter-weight in the grip of a counter-balanced putter reduces the feel of the heavy head, where as the light grip and shaft combo dramatically emphasizes the heaviness of the head.

Could it be that an awareness of the head’s position could make you a better putter?

The new line features three models, the TD-01, TD-02, and the TD-03. This new True Balance technology is available in the TD-01 and the TD-03.

 

TD-01

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The TD-01 is probably the most atypical of the heads in the line, though it looks somewhat normal at first glance. The TD-01 is a compact, round mallet. It’s face-balanced, like you would expect, and its insert combined with it’s head shape and mass, delivers a responsive roll on the ball.

Then you look at the neck. That’s unusual. Slanted, long-neck hosels are definitely not a common feature these days. Then you add on the True Balance shaft and grip and all of the sudden you have a compact mallet that gets more original in its design in a hurry.

If you are a mallet player, and interested in the True Balance technology, this is your putter. The only drawback is that this model can’t do the stand-up-on-its-own circus trick.

 

TD-02

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Truth be told, I discounted the TD-02 when I first saw it. I viewed it as boring compared to the other two True Balance designs. It has a traditional grip, and steel shaft. To use that word again, it’s very traditional.

Brandt Snedeker made this one a little more interesting when he dropped his long-bagged Odyssey for it. That made me a bit more curious about the TD-02.

After rolling is for a while, I get why Brandt would switch. It’s he switched to the TD-02 because Bridgestone pressured him to use it. Maybe they did. I don’t know, I was not part of that conversation, but I believe he switched because the TD-02 is a great little mallet. Sure, bagging one more Bridgestone club does ingrain him deeper with the Bridgestone brand, but these guys still want to win, so they will only play what works.

Brandt is an excellent putter, with a unique “pop” style of putting. If it wasn’t a quality putter, and he didn’t putt well with it, I don’t see him playing it.

I’ll put it this way. If the new idea True Balance versions did not exist, I would feel very excited about what Bridgestone was bringing to market after rolling this TD-02. The TD-02 can’t come in a True Balance version, as its double-bend shaft bending doesn’t mesh well with that whole graphite shaft thing.

Don’t think of the rubber grip and steel shaft as a handicap though. The TD-02 is still solid. Though I didn’t have steel versions of the TD-01 or TD-03 to roll, I bet those steel versions roll very nicely as well.

Those of you who are interested in Bridgestone’s putters, but wary of the True Balance technology, should definitely start here. This putter should be in the conversation with any other similar mallet in the marketplace.

 

TD-03

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The TD-03 is Bridgestone’s take on the classic Anser design. It has all of the features and specs that we associate with that style head. It’s a little head heavier than competitors, as are all of the heads, but the heel and toe weighting, along with a roughly 4:30 toe hang, should make someone who plays this style of putter very comfortable.

The TD-03 does come with the True Balance options, and that steers it away from the just-another-Anser conversation. The head-heavy feel of the TD-03 will not be found in another model of putter in the shop.

This would also be the model that can do the standing-up circus trick.

 

How Does it Play?

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For on course adventures, I selected the True Balance version of the TD-01. It had the True Balance shaft and the oversized version of the grip. Heading out to the course, I had two main concerns. How would the foam grip hold up to bag time, and how would the True Balance system work during play?

So maybe those two issues are not of equal importance, but the grip resilience and longevity really worried me. It just seemed like the foam would be easily cut, chipped, and on its way to being too damaged to comfortably play after not too many rounds of golf.

How did it hold up?

Not a mark after eighteen holes walking, and another eighteen riding. I still don’t know what EVA is all about, but it is definitely stronger than I expected. I still have concerns about a season of play with the grip, but maybe Bridgestone will have replacement grips available so it won’t really be an issue.

FWIW, I definitely preferred the oversized version to the standard version. The standard version seemed a bit undersized , with a fairly sharp underside geometry where it would interact with your fingers. It’s not that putting was hindered by the smaller grip, it’s just that I liked the larger, rounder grip better. Again, FWIW.

So how did it play? First of all, it was fun to have random people pick up the putter. The weight never failed to shock. I said before that the feel is different with this True Balance line. Not a single person could remember another putter that felt like this one. Most of them were also surprised at how it rolled the ball.

Again, so how did it play? Was it the king of line, roll, & speed? Line was good. The simple alignment system worked. Roll was excellent. The insert is lively and provides ample feedback should you wander the face.

Speed control is astounding. This was the part that I expected to be the most difficult and inconsistent. With the weight distribution being so strange, I fully expected to spend the rounds long and shore of the hole. Not so. The TD-01 was amazingly consistent with distance. I guess that means I was amazingly consistent with it, and usually speed control gets me a bit. For lack of a more concrete explanation, it just feels like you know how hard to swing the putter for various distances.

Maybe this is the result of increased awareness of the heavy head. I lean toward that explanation since the weighting is the big feature. Regardless, I was not alone in this feeling. Guys on the practice green also commented on how easy it was to hit the distance number. This also held true for the TD-03, by the way.

Take it for what you will but in the two rounds there were lots of one-putts, a handful of lip outs, and no three jacks. I was very impressed as this was not a putter that I felt that I had dialed in through practice. It just worked.

On a side note, putting with the TD-01 was unusually fun. I think that this is due to the almost absurd overall lightness and the bright yellow foam grip. One of the guys named it Mr. Foamy during the round. Another one wanted to know if it floated, perhaps for easier fishing out of a pond. For whatever reason, the Bridgestone True Balance putter added more lightness to the round than just it’s grip and shaft.

I really enjoyed putting with the TD-01, much more so than I expected to. The fact that the putts were also pretty good was almost secondary. Almost.

 

Are You Willing To Try New Things?

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I just finished listening to a great TED Talk podcast about What is Original? The speakers had some very interesting ideas about if it was in fact possible to come up with something truly original. Most of the experts agreed that innovation is rarely truly original, but rather the best original ideas reflect a combination of prior ideas put together in new ways. In other words, new successful ideas build upon previously successful ideas.

Bridgestone has not come up with a totally new putter design with this True Balance line. I know that someone reading this is just waiting to get to the end to let us all know that the TD-03 is just an Anser clone. I’m not going to argue that, it definitely is derivative of the Anser.

However, I have rolled the True Balance putters enough to know that there is definitely something to what Bridgestone is doing. They have taken an idea, and built something new into it. I don’t know that the lightweight shaft and grip design will become a foundational design element that other putter makes will then “improve upon” down the road, but I do know that Bridgestone has made something that feels very different with these putters.

I really hope you can find these in your local shop for demo. Hopefully you will have a “wow” moment when you feel their weighting, followed by another “wow” when you roll some balls on the green.

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