Putting instructors have long talked about the advantages of maintaining a smooth, pendulum stroke and in allowing the larger muscles of the shoulders and back to swing the putter instead of any wristy motions involving the smaller muscles in the fingers, forearms, and wrists.
Unfortunately, some would say, the traditional putter does not do all that it can to suit the proper putting stroke. Those "some" have banded together to form a company and a line of putters known as "Heavy Putter." With putters weighing 90% more than traditional putters, Heavy Putters seek to help players eliminate the twitchiness of the smaller muscles and to smooth out strokes.
Do they work? I've spent a few weeks putting with the B3 mallet style Heavy Putter, and my opinion is set. Read on to see what I think.
Design and Technology
The Heavy Putter reputedly has several advantages, including:
- The heavier mass engages large muscles and disengages small muscles, which promotes a pendulum stroke with less deviation in path.
- The higher balance point encourages lighter grip pressure which creates a smoother stroke, more solid contact and improves distance control as well as a consistent end over end roll immediately after impact and a more consistent putter release through impact and a more constant acceleration throughout the stroke.
- A heavier mass increases head stability throughout the impact zone improving putting accuracy and a higher moment of inertia (MOI).
- The Heavy Putter's personal fitting system optimizes the putter's performance for the individual golfer.
In other words, "heavy = good."
At this point, I should make one thing clear: the Heavy Putter's additional weight is not just in the putter head but also beneath the grip. A 250 gram metal slug sits beneath the grip of every model. This makes the entire putter heavier while maintaining what feels like a fairly normal swingweight.
Look and Setup
I prefer heel-shafted mallets, and the B3 model seemed right up my alley. With a two-ball-like alignment system, a wide face, and a low, swooping sole, the B3 looks more like a piece of industrial art than a putter, but nobody can likely claim to have seen anything similar. While the look is somewhat reminiscent of some recent Bettinardis, the stark austerity of the design lacks the flair of a Bettinardi. And that's fine - I've never been one for form over function.
At setup, the putter rests comfortably on the ground. This putter demands that you set it flat on the ground and does all it can to help you get there with a fairly flat sole (12" radius) and, of course, the increased head weight. I found that the two-ball (or rather, ball-and-a-half) holes can be somewhat distracting on greens with minor imperfections. Unlike the Odyssey Two-Ball line, which has solid white circles with which to aid alignment, the lack of material in the circular alignment aids forced me to rely on the putter face for alignment. Odyssey's alignment aids, like golf balls, are white and thus easier to align with a golf ball. Heavy Putter claims that these holes - their "Surround Sight" technology - helps to improve sweet spot contact more than putters with lines or a dot. I don't buy it.
While conventional putter heads weigh between 330 to 350 grams, the Heavy Putter heads weigh 450 to 550. Each Heavy Putter comes with two stainless steel 45-gram weights, two aluminum 20-gram weights, and two copper tungsten 70-gram weights that can be adjusted by allen wrench to change the head weight of the putter.
The green grip, a solid green and rather undecorated affair, feels harder than I'm used to on a putter. It sits reasonably well in your hands, and due to the weight of the putter, further back in your palms instead of in your fingertips.
In several practice sessions prior to taking the Heavy Putter on the course, one thing became immediately apparent: it's tough to practice with the Heavy Putter. After fifteen minutes practice putting, my arms and wrists would tire. Stroking the putter and, perhaps more importantly, carrying it around the putting green will tire you out a good bit more quickly than conventional putters. With the grip in the weight, carrying the Heavy Putter near the shaft neck does nothing to limit the effort required.
With the lightweight aluminum weights installed, the putter felt too light. The stainless steel weights were just under my normal putter's swing weight and the heavier copper tungsten weights were just a bit heavier. I putted equally with both of the heavier sets and found little to distinguish their performance.
On short putts, the Heavy Putter performs as advertised: it allows players to create a smooth, pendulum stroke using the larger muscles of their shoulders and back. My first few short putts barely got to the hole, though. The putter felt as though it was so heavy you'd barely have to touch the ball to put a powerful hit on the unsuspecting dimpled sphere. Once I developed a truer sense of head weight and not overall putter weight and began giving short putts my normal stroke, they got to the hole quite nicely.
Unfortunately, short putts are all that the Heavy Putter is good for. On mid-length putts, the head feels surprisingly flimsy at impact, even on putts struck on the sweet spot. Nearly every putt feels like it was mis-hit. A solid metal putter shouldn't feel hollow or flimsy, but the unusual weighting in the Heavy Putter managed to make this chiseled metal monstrosity feel worse than a lead pipe on the end of a shaft might feel.
Not only was the impact flimsy, but the feel was quite harsh. I've grown accustomed to putters with German Stainless Steel (GSS) inserts, polymer inserts, or the Rossa AGSI inserts, all of which serve to soften the feel of impact and to promote smooth roll. The Heavy Putter not only looks like a cold, hard putter, but the ball feels as if it was struck with a cold, hard putter at impact.
I'd be willing to overlook the unusually flimsy feel and the harsh feel at impact if the putter worked outside of 25 feet. Lag putting outside of 25 feet is largely a matter of feel, and that feel has been built upon throughout my entire career. With the Heavy Putter, I simply couldn't get the ball to the hole. Originally, I thought my problem was similar to the one I had with the short putts: expecting the ball to explode off the clubface.
So I convinced myself that it wouldn't, and I found the true problem. On long putts, the heft of the Heavy Putter simply prevents your arms from swinging through as quickly as normal. It's as if you're swinging the putter head through molasses. Even when I made myself aware of this fact I still had trouble getting the ball to the hole.
I can adjust my golf swing or putting stroke to accommodate one or two little things - a new grip, a different stance, etc., but when I find myself leaving 40-foot putts five feet short two weeks into using the Heavy Putter exclusively, well, something just isn't adjusting itself. No other club you use around the greens is as heavy as the Heavy Putter, and since putting is such a "feel" aspect of the game of golf to me, the Heavy Putter simply throws off my feel. Simply put: I couldn't make myself adjust to it.
One final note for those who carry their clubs: the Heavy Putter is heavy. If your bag is already heavy enough - even if you've done all you can to carry as little as possible - the Heavy Putter will almost assuredly push you over the edge. An extra pound or two in your bag won't kill you, of course, but it can make finishing 18 holes feeling as fresh as you used to a challenge.
Extras and Specs
The Heavy Putter comes with a lightweight (hardy har) neoprene headcover with a springy jaw that clamps around the bottom of the putter. It worked reasonably well but, as you can see to the right, "dingied" up fairly quickly. The allen wrenches and additional weights (mentioned above) let you change the weight of the putter head.
Unfortunately, the Heavy Putter doesn't come with someone to carry it around for you. On the plus side, if you do opt to use the Heavy Putter, that line you feed your wife about "good exercise" will never have been more true!
The Heavy Putter is available in two main models, the "A" and the "B" series. The A series is a blade style putter and the B, as reviewed here, a mallet style putter. With three neck configurations for each, you can choose the best putter for your stroke. Each putter comes with 3.5° loft and a lie of 72°
I don't hate the Heavy Putter - it is what they says it is, after all - but there's no way I would put the Heavy Putter in my bag again. The concept is sound in theory, but practice doesn't bear out the results I'd expect to see.
The Heavy Putter may be a great training aid, but I cannot recommend it to anyone for use in their bag. You'd be better served finding a putter in which you're confident and simply improving your stroke. Eliminate wrist hinge and excessive small-muscle movements by eliminating your wrist hinge and small muscle movements. Don't expect a putter weighing two pounds to do it for you.