Pros: Forgiving, Decent Value, Good Looks
Cons: Slick Grip, Had Difficulty Squaring the Clubface, Where's the Technology?
Bridgestone True Balance TD-02 Putter
The True Balance Putter is Bridgestone Golf's first entry in the putter market. The concept of the putter is simple: Bridgestone added weight to the head while removing it from the shaft and grip of the putter to keep the balance point of the putter within five inches from it's sole to create their "True Balance" feel. They claim that the design will give players better feel for the putter head, which gives the following benefits:
- 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 = short, right
- MAKE MORE PUTTS
Does Bridgestone Golf deliver on it's claims? I have no idea. The reason I have no idea is because the proprietary technology and design aspects of the True Balance Putter only exist in the putters with their lightweight graphite shaft and grip combination. They also sell the putters with a standard steel shaft and grip, which have none of the advertised features.
Here are the specifications from Bridgestone Golf's website:
- Head Weight: 360 grams
- Oversize EVA Grip: 20 grams
- Standard EVA Grip: 10 grams
- Rubber Pistol Grip: 83 grams
- Steel Shaft: 103 grams
- True Balance Shaft: 33 grams
I have the TD-02 True Balance Putter with a steel shaft and rubber pistol grip. As you can see by the specifications, the grip alone (83g) weighs more than the True Balance shaft and EVA grip (43g combined). The head isn't heavy enough to stand out, either (my Odyssey White Ice #9 has a 355g head). It's not hard to see that the more traditional putter offering does not live up to the advertising. However, lack of proprietary technology aside, it is still a putter that can be used to put a golf ball in the hole. Just bear in mind that this is NOT the putter with the "True Balance" feel.
The Bridgestone True Balance TD-02 Putter is a fairly traditional looking mallet putter.
The grip is a matte black rubber with a few paint-filled alignment lines and the Bridgestone logo at the end.
The steel shaft is step-less with the same glossy finish typically found in steel shafts.
The head itself is mostly a satin finish, with a band of polished steel on the sole where the Bridgestone Golf logo can be found, along with the head type. The lettering is paint-filled, albeit not particularly well, as inconsistency is evident in terms of paint coverage and line thickness.
The face itself is milled in straight lines going across it, as opposed to the circular milling pattern that's typically found on putter faces. There is a black insert in the middle that covers about half the area of the face.
Behind the face is a small cavity where some decorative straight line milling and the Bridgestone B can be found. There is a single black line in a channel on the crown of the putter, behind the face, that serves as the alignment aid.
Overall, I found the look of the putter to be fairly muted. Nobody will mistake it for a premium putter, and it definitely won't catch anyone's attention on the rack, by it's looks. That's not necessarily a bad thing, really.
The Bridgestone True Balance TD-02 Putter performed fairly well. Even the steel shaft offering is fairly heavy feeling. It's not heavy-putter heavy, but I wouldn't call it light, either. I found that this did help me with distance control, as I was able to repeatedly hit putts to certain distances more consistently than my current putter.
Off center hits were pretty forgiving, as well. I didn't start to notice any loss of distance until I started to intentionally hit putts with the toe and heel of the putter. Incidentally, those are the two spots on the face that the insert doesn't cover. Contact felt pretty good, too. Nothing harsh or "hot" feeling. I wasn't a big fan of the sound, though. I like my putts to sound dead on a good, centered hit. The True Balance Putter had a sort of pop to it; it sounded a bit hollow, even on good contact, as if I hit a really hard ball, or the ball really hard.
I am not a fan of the grip, however. The material seems more like a soft tire than a putter grip, and it has large smooth surfaces on it. I wondered if the smooth surfaces would make it slippery when wet, so I laid the putter down in some dew to test it's tackiness. I did actually drop it accidentally after I picked it up because I have a habit of swinging the putter one handed as I walk up to mark my ball. I'm not sure if it made any difference in my putting stroke, but I do know that I never really felt comfortable with it.
The last thing I disliked about its performance strikes directly at what Bridgestone claims the putter does. They claim it "gates," which implies that the putter's face rotates easily through the stroke. I found that it does not perform as advertised. My current putter "gates" through the swing more easily than the True Balance Putter, and I struggled quite a bit with my start lines when I used Bridgestone's offering.
Overall, performance was a bit of a mixed bag. It did help me with distance control, but made me inconsistent at hitting my lines. Since both functions are needed to putt well, I can't really put my chips on this one.
The Bridgestone True Balance Putter with a steel shaft retails for $149.00. It is actually a bit pricier than others in its class, but still significantly cheaper than premium offerings.
Given it's mediocre performance and value, I can't recommend this club. It just doesn't offer anything that hundreds of other putters out in the market don't already do. Maybe the putter with the True Balance shaft and EVA grip performs completely differently; it's hard for me to say. All I know is, Bridgestone Golf touts the proprietary technology and design of their putters, but they also sell standard putters with none of those features. It's a bit of a head scratcher, to me.