It's fun to see some new up-and-coming equipment companies come out with some pretty innovative products designed to help lower your golf score.
One of those companies is Roenick Golf, who have come out with a pretty ingenious idea for a putter that not only incorporates some nice customization features but also an alignment-aid system that should help you drop a few more putts per round and give you some added confidence every time you stand over a putt.
I'm not the biggest mallet guy in the world, to put it mildly so even with the above features, I was pretty skeptical that the Crossbow had any chance of securing a spot in my very small putter rotation, yet alone make to my bag.
Read on to find out if I had to eat a little crow about my thoughts in using a mallet putter.
Design, Looks, and Setup
The Roenick Golf Crossbow Putter XB-10 is a mallet-style putter that is precision milled from 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum, which I found to be quite nice at rolling a golf ball (more on that later). It features some fancy-named technology called "Adjustable Alignment Technology" (or "AAT") and is designed to help you correct visual misalignment, which is a pretty important thing if you want any chance of sinking putts.
What makes the Crossbow line of putters unique is that they feature an interchangeable heel-toe weight system that allows you to get a custom feel based upon the headweight that suits you best. In addition, this also provides some flexibility in order to adapt to various shaft lengths which are offered. No longer are you tied to some equipment makers length/weight specs: you can have your own.
There are a couple of ways to adjust the AAT, some simple and some for the more scientific golfer "geek." The easier method is the Greenside Calibration while the more involved kind is the Laser Calibration method. I tried both and found they both work fine.
Adjustments are simple and are made by inserting a small allen wrench the hole in the back, loosening a screw, moving the aligner (arrow) to the desired angle and tightening the screw. Told you it was easy. Each protraction mark on the Crossbow Putter is equal to ½°: the longer marks indicate full 1° increments while the short marks indicate ½° steps. The aligner always points to the optimum point of contact on the putter face (sweet spot) so it does not deflect the ball when struck.
After messing around with the AAT using both methods, I found that for me anyway, the Crossbow was just fine as it was out-of-the-box, no adjustments needed. Nice to know though one can make the necessary changes if need to help you out in the alignment department.
I'm must admit that I'm pretty set in my ways for what looks pleasing to my eyes when it comes to how golf equipment looks, especially putters. I've tried a myriad of mallets that look like pancake flippers, spaceships and cattle brands and have always gone back to my trusty Anser-style blade putter. To say that I was pretty skeptical when the Crossbow showed up on my doorstep is an understatement.
But I must admit that the Crossbow doesn't look too bad. With some nice curves and an overall size that won't overwhelm you, I found the Crossbow to be one of the few mallets that I could putt with for more than a few minutes without searching for the next putter to try out. I think having the black anodized finish, which looks quite sharp (and reduces sun glare and helps in improve sightline visibility to boot) is a big part of this as I've personally always liked black paint on putters.
From the address position, the Crossbow helps out in the confidence department as the size was just large enough that you feel you could make anything, make an accelerating putting stroke, and the alignment arrow was long enough to get you properly lined up to your putting line. Simple and effective.
Performance and Feel
I've putted with a blade putter for years so it's a pretty radical departure for me to even consider putting a mallet in my hands. Not to say I haven't tried but I have not had a lot of success to find one that looks pleasing to the eye AND performs well. Until now.
The first thing that struck me about the Crossbow was the weight. I've played around with plenty of putters over the years and I don't find too often where the first time I pick one up that it just feels right like I did with the Crossbow. It's not too light where I feel I have zero control over my putting stroke yet not overly heavy to feel I need to make a decelerating putting stroke to keep the ball on the green. The Crossbow works nicely as it comes with additional weights that allow you to make it heavier or lighter based on your preferences. Simply brilliant.
After the first few putts I stroked with the Crossbow, I was quite pleased with how soft the ball felt off the face. Not mushy, insert-feeling soft where I've felt I needed to hammer the putt to get it to go anywhere but soft in "the ball just gets in the way" and off it goes feeling I get with my current putter.
One of the major features of the Crossbow is the adjustable weights. Yes, I know there are other putters out there that allow you to adjust the weights as well, but the Crossbow comes with additional weights included in the price. No having to buy extra weights or sending it in to a shop to be adjusted, you can make the necessary weight changes yourself to find out what best works for you. While the standard 360 gram weight felt quite nice right out of the box, it was good to know I could make any changes if I ever felt the need. Changing the weights is a snap with the enclosed allen wrench and weight set that comes standard with every Crossbow putter.
Distance control was pretty easy to get used to with the Crossbow as I found it was pretty tough not to be able to accelerate smoothly through my putting stroke. My major putting issue is the tendency to to take too big of a backswing and then need to slow down through my putting stoke to prevent the ball from racing ten feet past the hole.
Not so with the Crossbow. No matter the length of the putt, I found it to be quite easy to accelerate through the putt while taking a shorter backswing thus having a much tighter dispersion in the distance department. Taking a shorter backswing and accelerating through the putt is something I've been working on over the off-season and thus far this year and the Crossbow worked beautifully in accomplishing just that. Think of it as a putter and a training aid as well.
The Crossbow fared quite nicely in providing both adequate feel and feedback. When struck perfectly (or closely to) the feel is quite soft and smooth and even those not quite so perfect strokes were still rewarded with almost the same feeling. A subtle enough of reminder to make a better stroke next time but not a harsh, clanky feeling either.
My only quibble with the Crossbow was the leather-wrapped grip. Try as I may, I never could quite get a happy feeling when using that style of a grip but that's a pretty easy fix and a pretty minor "issue" at that.
Specifications and Availability
The Crossbow is available for both men and women and both models work for righties and lefties. Standard loft is 3.5° with a lie angle of 71° (customizable +/- 2°). Shaft type is either heel (Double Bend) or center (Straight) and comes in a multitude of lengths including Standard (31-37"), Belly/Mid (37.5-43"), and Long (43.5-53").
The head weight is varied from 360-380 grams and can be changed with the interchangeable heel and toe weights. The sinister looking black anodized color helps to cut down glare and the Crossbow comes with a custom fit silver/red with black trim headcover that covers the putter nicely. Also included is a pouch that holds the extra weights and wrenches.
The Crossbow putters come in at $150 ($10 upcharge for the Belly/Mid and $20 for the Long) which for a club you'll use 30+ times during a round and is customized for you seems to be a steal nowadays. You can order one today from their online shop which is easy to navigate.
Simply put, the Roenick Crossbow delivers as its feel is soft and smooth and the customization options between various weights and the AAT make it a must try if you are in the market for a new putter. Having been a blade-style guy for years, I've had to eat a little crow since using the Crossbow but after watching a few more putts drops during my rounds, I have no problem with that.