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Puku Long Putter Review

Aug. 26, 2006     By     Comments (25)

Does your putting stroke make your stomach turn? Puku Golf's adjustable belly putters could help your game.

Puku Putter HeroLong putters - the broomstick-style flatsticks like Bernhard Langer has used for years - have been part of the golf equipment landscape for the last couple decades. Some players swear by them, and some would never touch one. The last few years saw a spike in the use of mid-length putters, also known as "belly" putters for the tendency of golfers to anchor the end of the shaft around their navel. Mid-length putters have the benefits of a long putter, mainly taking the wrists out of the putting stroke, while providing for a more traditional stance and stroke.

An interesting new twist on the belly putter idea comes from New Zealand's Puku Golf Company. Puku - which is Maori for belly - makes mid-length putters with an innovative design that allows golfers to adjust the length of the putter. We had the chance to try one out, and here's our gut feeling about it.

Design
Puku Putter HeadcoverThe standard length of a putter is 34 or 35 inches. Puku's three models are 36 inches… or 40 inches… or 45 inches… you get the picture. The unique adjustable grip section of the Puku putters allows you to set the length of the putter anywhere between 36" and 50".

The adjustments are easily made with a simple T-shaped tool Puku ships with each putter. Fitting yourself to the ideal length is a simple matter of trial and error. First, you use the tool to unlock the grip. You then telescope the grip higher or lower until you find a comfortable position, and you use the tool to lock the grip back in place. If you roll a few practice putts and it doesn't feel right, try it again. The grip slides smoothly up and down the putter shaft when it is unlocked, and stays snugly in place when it is locked. It took me only a few minutes and a dozen practice putts to find that I was most comfortable at just under 41".

Puku Putter Lock
You can make adjustments to your Puku by inserting a special tool into this lock, telescoping the shaft in or out, then locking the grip back into place.

Like other adjustable clubs, the Puku putters conform to USGA and R&A rules (unless you adjust them during a round, which is a no-no). Be sure to do your tinkering and adjusting on the practice green.

Aside from being adjustible, the Puku grip is also dramatically different. It has a reverse taper - instead of being thickest at the butt end and getting thinner toward the clubhead, the opposite occurs. The Puku grip is relatively thin at the butt end, then gets much thicker toward the clubhead. Puku intends this to be more ergonomic, and it does seem to help keep the hands more quiet during the putting stroke. The black soft rubber grip also has yellow notches down the sides. You're encouraged to use a black marker to cover the yellow notches where you are most comfortable gripping the club as a reminder of your ideal grip. A nice touch.

Puku Putter Grip
The Puku grip features a reverse taper: thin at the top and thick at the bottom.

The shaft is a thick, True Temper parallel model that is quite stiff and heavy. The clubhead is cast from 303 stainless steel with a face that is double-milled to ensure flatness. Each of the three models in the Puku line - the FIO, the LCY, and the JME - are oversized heel-toe-weighted blades with sleek curved hosels. The putter heads weigh a hefty 420g each, compared with the 320-340g weight a standard length putter is apt to have. Each putter has a curved "rocker"-style sole with the Puku logo in raised, polished letters to serve as a design aid and to help the putter glide through the fringe or fairway grass if you putt from off the green.

Esthetics
Puku Putter AddressThe Puku putters aren't exactly a Bullseye, an 8802, or an Anser. The three models don't pretend to be anything other than contemporary, with lots of rounded corners and swooping angles. They look rather space age, like maybe something from an episode of The Jetsons - and that's not a bad thing. I'd describe the putters as having a friendly look to them. But if you're a traditionalist, you probably won't take to them. (Of course, if you're a traditionalist you're probably thinking that anchoring the putter to your body should be against the rules; talk amongst yourselves.)

The electroplated putter heads of the Puku putters are also quite minimalist compared with so many of today's busy-looking alignment putters. The FIO and JME models each have a single small dot on the topline for aiming, while the LCY model has a black sightline. The JME model I tested also has a black line that runs along the top line parallel to the leading edge of the putter. This subtle touch helped me confidently square the putter at address.

The curved hosel is also very distinct, and works well with the overall look of the clubheads. You can't see any of the hosel at address, thanks to the curved design and the shaft-over-hosel connection. Each model in the Puku line is face-balanced, which is good for players with square-to-square putting strokes.

Each Puku putter comes with a zippered headcover made of black velour with the Puku logo in yellow stitching, along with the T-tool for adjusting the putter's length and a very long ball-mark repair tool. Puku also ships a four-page guide to belly putting with each putter. It has brief sections on how to use a belly putter, from adjusting the grip to different styles of grips - standard, left-hand low, split, or "Claw" - you can try using with the reverse-taper grip on the Puku putter. The guide has instructive photos and is clearly written. If you've never tried a belly putter before, this is a very helpful part of the Puku package and a thoughtful inclusion.

Puku Putter Angle
A single sight dot and a black line on this JME model are that you'll need to confidently line up your putts.

Feel and Sound
I tested the JME model and found it to have good feel and sound. Frankly, you're not going to get a ton of feel from a putter this heavy nor with this stiff a shaft. You do get a sense of where you've struck each putt, which is a plus. Sound-wise, the JME model made a high-pitched "tink" sound when struck on the sweet spot, and a more muted sound on poor contact. This reminded me in a positive way of older Ping putters I used when I was growing up. The sound wasn't loud or abrasive, but it is different from the softer sounds of insert putters.

Performance
Once I had my Puku JME putter dialed in for length, I locked it up and headed for the practice green. I was able to find a comfortable stance and stroke fairly quickly - hands a little bit lower than with a standard putter, also standing a little taller than usual. But it still took me a couple 20-minute practice sessions to get a feel for distance control and to gain confidence in my stroke. After decades of putting with standard putters, it took a while to convince my grey matter that there was another way of rolling the rock.

Puku Putter Back
The JME model, like all Puku putters, features a swooping rounded sole and an interesting hosel.

After draining several 15-foot putts on the practice green one afternoon, the JME and I hit the course. I felt a little uncomfortable on the first few holes, but the Puku never let me down. After those first few holes, I was just as comfortable using the Puku as a standard putter.

Did the Puku shave several strokes off my game? No, but I can see where it would be a great help to someone fighting the yips or having a crisis of confidence on the greens. The heavier weight of the clubhead encourages a more relaxed stroke, and anchoring the putter to your body really helps keep your hands, wrists, and arms neutral. You just let the Puku do the work, and you get a sense that the putter is swinging itself.

Puku Putter Face
In the words of Gwen Stefani: "Bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S." The Puku JME certainly has a unique shape!

Another nice side effect of using the Puku JME putter is that it seems to work as a great putting training aid. Much like swinging a heavy club can help your full swing, practicing with the heavy Puku putter helps my putting stroke. Using a standard putter, I have tightened my stroke and have less wrist action than before. I fully intend on using the Puku on the practice green on a regular basis, and on the course every once in a while to keep my stroke in good shape.

Conclusion
I think Puku has some great ideas behind its putters. I've been lucky (knock wood) to have always considered myself an OK putter and have never felt the agony of the yips. But I know people who grit their teeth every time they address a putt because they have so little confidence in that part of their game. I heartily recommend the Puku putters to players like this. The putters perform well, are very versatile and could turn a weak part of your game into a point of strength.

Puku Putter Sole
The raised "PUKU" logo on the sole of the putter helps the head glide through the fringe or light rough.

And if the idea of an adjustable grip sounds intriguing to you but not the idea of a belly putter, keep your eyes open for standard-length versions of the Puku putters in the near future.

Puku putters are available in the U.S. through pukugolf.com. Each of the three models is available for $290US in right- and left-handed versions, and shipping is included in that price (an extra $15 gets you express shipping).

Posted in: Clubs, Review Comments (25)

Discussion

  1. I putted with mine and simply couldn't get used to the clanky feel, the high-pitched "tink" sound, and the fact that something was stuck in my belly button. Then again, I'm definitely not a square-to-square putter. I definitely follow the Cameron/Utley inside-square-inside routine.

    If you only carry 13 clubs, though, I recommend adding a Puku to your bag at its longest length for measuring all of your drops. ;-)

  2. brad says:

    The Puku putter looks great asthetically. But the truth is; long putters suck, (unless you have a physically challenging condition) and adjustable clubs are a gimmick and appeal to the simplest form of conspicuous consumer. Let me know when they make a normal putter.

  3. Simon says:

    Hi Brad (last comment)

    Simon, Founder Puku Golf here

    Yep we are making short putters now - also adjustable in length - not quite ready to sell yet - Expect to do an infomercial on TGC Dec or Feb -

    Our approach is to use simple beneficial physics (center balancing and pendulum stroke in the JME Belly reviewed) and package it in an aesthetically pleasing design

    All design is influenced by past design but I reckon the world of golf needs a bit more original clear thinking which is what we are trying to do

    Cheers

    Simon

  4. Ted Edwards says:

    I love my Puku's - I have two of them.

    This putter is beautifully made. I really enjoy the sound it makes when you strike the ball on the sweet spot. I almost never three putt anymore. I'm amazed at how many putts are falling for me now.

    It this is a gimmic it's the best darn one I've seen in a long time. It's versatility is unparalled. The grip loves the wet of the Pacific Northwest.

    Best club in my bag!!1

  5. danybhoy says:

    I just inquired about Puku putters & after looking into it, I just ordered a JME belly. I have a belly putter, I like it, but I know I can do better. I'll let you know what I think when I get it out on the home course here in Minnesota in a few weeks.

    dan

  6. danybhoy says:

    Ok, I'm back with my impression of the Puku putter I ordered. I have played 8 rounds with it(the JME model)& while it is a nice putter, it is very well built, sits well at adress, & has decent feel, the grip is a problem for me. It's a tapered grip, & it get too thin for my liking, so I have had trouble getting a consistant grip from putt to putt. I believe it is the grip that will be the thing that may prevent someone from buying a Puku. When they adress this & I think they will have to when more golfers have a chance to try a Puku, there will be more golfers willing to shell out for them.

    The fact that you can adjust the length of the putter is wonderful, & that alone makes this a viable purchase. However, I am also hoping that Puku comes out with more conventional grip styles, like the normal round grips you see on mid/long putters, as well as the flattened grip that we see on almost all putters.

    Overall, Puku putters are fine products that will atract attention, but I really think the grip is problematic. 6/10 as of now.

  7. Simon says:

    Hi danybhoy

    Thanks for your comments - we are addressing this - Many like our grip but of course putting is personal and some would prefer other choices

    Cheers

    Simon (Founder Puku Golf)

  8. lngnokr71 says:

    I am a club builder who helps out my fellow golfers at the local course with repairs and regripping. I'll be purchasing a Puku putter (jme model) real soon. My question is for owners of these putters and someone who works for Puku golf, is If you don't like the shaft or grip style, wouldn't it be possible to pull the exsisting shaft and replace it with a conventional shaft and then grip to your liking? Looks like the putterhead would take a over the hosel shaft. Could someone from Puku answer if this is possible and what size shaft would work?...........fairways and Greens.......lngnokr71

  9. Simon says:

    Hi

    Simon here from Puku Golf :roll:

    At this time we have only our grip unit working and just the one grip - Your question is a good one and we will address this issue/idea in the future but I suspect it will be a while away - Sorry I can't say otherwise now

    However most people like our present grip -I do! (well I would say that!)

    Cheers

    Simon

  10. lngnokr71 says:

    Simon, I'm not saying I won't like the grip. I think the whole idea of the adjustable shaft and inverted grip is pretty cool and I can't wait to get mine. The question was. If I do however find that the inverted grip isn't for me is it possible to pull the exsisting adjustable shaft from the head and then reshaft the head with a conventional over the hosel shaft?? Then regrip the putter with a pistol grip or paddle grip or whatever grip... :wink: .........lngnokr71.........

  11. Jason Payne says:

    I putted with mine and simply couldn't get used to the clanky feel, the high-pitched "tink" sound, and the fact that something was stuck in my belly button. Then again, I'm definitely not a square-to-square putter. I definitely follow the Cameron/Utley inside-square-inside routine.

    If you only carry 13 clubs, though, I recommend adding a Puku to your bag at its longest length for measuring all of your drops. ;-)

    You can not use a belly putter square to square so it should have fit you nice.

  12. Anthony says:

    The Puku putter looks great asthetically. But the truth is; long putters suck, (unless you have a physically challenging condition) and adjustable clubs are a gimmick and appeal to the simplest form of conspicuous consumer. Let me know when they make a normal putter.

    Just give 'em a chance and don't X them out b/c you hear on person say they suck. I'm a 2 handi on a mountain course in N.C. who switched to a long putter b/c it allowed me to practice putting for hours on end w/o back tightness. I'm on 32, but anyones back can get tired after two hours of putting on a practice day. I just took a 'sucky' long putter back in May to my personal best 70! Putting is personal and the only thing that matters is if it works for YOU>

  13. lngnokr71 says:

    I wonder if anyone will answer my question back on the 16th or could this be the last time we hear from Simon????????????.....lngnokr71..... :?:

  14. Simon Moore says:

    Simon, I'm not saying I won't like the grip. I think the whole idea of the adjustable shaft and inverted grip is pretty cool and I can't wait to get mine. The question was. If I do however find that the inverted grip isn't for me is it possible to pull the exsisting adjustable shaft from the head and then reshaft the head with a conventional over the hosel shaft?? Then regrip the putter with a pistol grip or paddle grip or whatever grip...

    :wink:

    .........lngnokr71.........

    Hi

    Simon here

    Well there is a way you can do this - IF you were to remove the tapered Puku grip (knife!) then the outer diameter of the tube you will see is 14mm and you could fit a 2 pc round grip.

    The Puku mechanism would be visible (it is 22mm OD) .............. If you want to be USGA legal you would need to wrap the round grip and the mechanism with a grip tape or the USGA would say the slot in the mechanism is a hand hold!

    Of course I am not the USGA so I can only offer my opinion!

    Hope that helps - The end result can be quite nice - I made one a while back.

    Better yet would be for us to offer this ready made but we can't do that for now

    Cheers

    Simon
    (Founder CTO Puku Golf)

    PS I see 5/10 putters were using belly putters today in the finish of this weeks PGA TOur event - including 1,2,3=

    Interesting times.............

  15. lngnokr71 says:

    Ok, got my Puku(jme) putter yesterday. I have to say that the reverse taper grip didn't bother me a bit. It took me about 5 putts to adjust to the weight of the putter, then I started putting with surprising consistancy and acuracy. I putted on the practice green for about 30 min. and in that 30 min. from various distances I made alot of putts and If I didn't make them I amost always had tap ins. The weight and balance of the putter makes a good smooth stroke almost automatic. Now for the negatives. I found the craftmanship of the putter to almost look like the person who made this putter was hurried. The putter from a distance is very attractive but when looking at it close the surface looks pitted in spots. The glue joint where the hosel meets the shaft is sloppy looking. Like I said HURRIED. All in all I putted great with it and I will continue to use it, but for a putter that retails for $249.00, the craftman should have taken a little more time in making the surface of the putter perfect :wink: ............lngnokr71.............

  16. lngnokr71 says:

    OK, I got a little curious, so I decided to answer my own question. :lol: Yes you can pull the exsisting head from the adjustable Puku shaft and reshaft it with a coventional fluted shaft. I used an old but (in excellent condition) flare tip satin shaft from a titleist bullseye putter. The transition from the fluted tip of the shaft to the little round nob on the hosel of the puku head looks smooth, like it was meant to be that way. I did however have to sand the hosel tip of the putter where the shaft and the putter come together. You'll have to do this to insure a good perfect fit. I now have a Puku jme putter with a flare tip satin shaft with a conventional titleist paddle grip. If anybody is curious to see how sweet this putter now looks, just email me at suzanne.boyd@sbcglobal.net and I'll be glad to send you pics.....................lngnokr71...............................

  17. Simon Moore says:

    :mrgreen: Nice one!

    I like your spirit! - modify a new putter

    There is no magic solution to design and a paddle grip is something a lot of people would like - Fantastic innovation!

    Cheers

    Simon

  18. Mark G says:

    Was given the PUKU as a gift and simply love it..The roll is consistent and I concur on the feedback that you get with a pure stroke. Very nice.
    Regretfully, I did not receive the tool to adjust.
    How do I get one?

  19. 330offthetee says:

    Was given the PUKU as a gift and simply love it..The roll is consistent and I concur on the feedback that you get with a pure stroke. Very nice.
    Regretfully, I did not receive the tool to adjust.
    How do I get one?
    Hi Mark,
    you can use an allen wrench to adjust the putter, I got one as a gift as well

  20. Mark G says:

    Appreciate the feedback and will give it a try BUT putting so well right now may not ever touch....

  21. Simon Moore says:

    Appreciate the feedback and will give it a try BUT putting so well right now may not ever touch....

    Actually only our cam tool should be used or even work! - and in any case adjustable length is a fitting thing only!- if the putter the right feel and length already - hey it is working as welll ..............................then - don't change a thing!

    If however you wish a cam toll visit our site and flick us an email

    Simon - Founder of Puku Golf

  22. Rusty says:

    What a great putter. I have used one for almost 5 months now and love it. I was usually short with my putts in the past and now have a very workable putter. The heavy weight has given me feel that I had as a kid when I could practice often. At age 52 the putter is a welcome addition to the bag

  23. What a great putter. I have used one for almost 5 months now and love it. I was usually short with my putts in the past and now have a very workable putter. The heavy weight has given me feel that I had as a kid when I could practice often. At age 52 the putter is a welcome addition to the bag

    Thanks Rusty - IF I am honest I will admit to backing off the weight a bit - I got nervous in pushing boundaries too far - challenging too much.......................

    Next time - be warned - I shall design with no fear! - could be pretty damn scary! :twisted:

    Cheers

    Simon - Founder/Designer Puku Golf

  24. DARRYL DURAN says:

    I Lost my tool for the Puku Putter. Can anyone help me find one to purchase.

    Thank you,

    Darryl

  25. pukugolf says:

    Hi there,
    Just FYI, if anyone is looking for a Puku putter, we have re-released a limited number of them. Check out pukugolf.com for more info.

    Cheers,
    Jamie

    Puku Golf
    New Zealand

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