Pros: Better distance control and stroke awareness, excellent craftsmanship
Cons: Terrible grip, I mean God awful...
I have had the pleasure of testing the Bridgestone True Balance for the past month. This model is the TD-03 blade with the specially engineered lightweight graphite shaft and EVA grip, these two features (extreme lightweight grip and shaft) are the basis of what Bridgestone terms True Balance© technology. By moving the balance point to within 5" of the putter head, Bridgestone claims that golfers will have a better feel for the location of the head throughout the stroke and a more instinctual feel for distance control. I am a firm believer in the importance of having a putter whose weight distribution fits the individual golfers stroke and feel or sense of distance. My regular putter is a Yes! Athena with a 350g head and a standard Winn AVS grip that weighs in at around 60g. I putted OK with this putter but my distance control improved dramatically when I added a 40 gram Tour Lock back weight to the grip end. The difference was night and day which is why I am such a firm believer in having a properly weighted putter.
So here I am testing a putter that is designed to be pretty the much the diametrical opposite of what works for me! The Bridgestone True Balance TD-03 has a 360g head and practically ZERO weight at the other end. Seriously, zero, zilch, nada, zip...well not really zero, but for all intents and purposes it may as well be zero, I mean this putter can stand up on its own if you put it on a flat level surface.
I'll take a picture of this later and add it.
All this to say that, clearly, I was not expecting to have much success with this putter.
So let's take a look at what happened when I got my hands on the TD-03.
First impression as I slid it out of the box was, "My God, this is one ugly stick." Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this particular beholder isn't a fan of black shafts and yellow grips on such a beautiful putter head. The grip in particular causes a bit of a double take. It's a cheap feeling foam that another reviewer likened to the grip of a child's plastic baseball bat and I simply cannot come up with a better descriptor than that so I will go with it too. It's hard to take yourself seriously when you're gripping this putter. Hopefully Bridgestone is researching better weight saving materials to craft future True Balance grips with as I cannot see this material being well received by serious golfers.
As I said, the putter head is absolutely beautiful and I would expect no less from such refined clubmaker as Bridgestone. I found this putter to be very easy to align and putts were rolling true to my chosen start lines with a consistency that breeds confidence.
Now let's get to the meat and potatoes of what Bridgestone claims is the benefit of this new concept and that is distance control, arguably the most important factor of becoming a great putter. Simply put, I was downright shocked with how well I was able to lag the ball from all sorts of distances with this putter. Hard to believe as it is so very different in concept and design from my usual putter setup. The first round I played with this putter was magical. Subsequent rounds have been a little closer to the mean as the honeymoon effect subsided but there is little question that I putt as well, or nearly as well, with this putter as I do with my own and remember that my own putter was after market modified to fit my needs perfectly. I will be switching back and forth between these two putters for the remainder of the season. At the moment I really can't tell which concept I prefer, counter-balanced or True Balance, but it's a nice problem to have. Now I cannot say that everyone will see the same benefits from this design, just as not everyone would see the benefits to my personally fit putter, putting is simply too personal with far too many idiosyncrasies to believe any claims as to a putters perfection for ALL golfers but if you suffer from distance control issues and frequently leave putts woefully short or blast 'em past the hole you may want to give these True Balance putters a look.
It ain't pretty, but if you make more putts you won't care.
I will add pictures to this review when I get the chance.
Thanks for reading.