When you think of Cleveland Golf, you think of a few things. Vijay Singh, the HiBore driver and some classic wedges. One of the last things you might think of is putters.
Well, maybe you think of the Never Compromise line that Vijay Singh and David Toms used for years, but Cleveland Golf has now made an introduction into the milled putter market with its line of VP Milled putters. In a space that is dominated by Scotty Cameron, Cleveland Golf has their work cut out for them.
The biggest question for Cleveland Golf is this: Can they do enough to entice players of all skills to put a VP Mills putter in their bag instead of a Cameron? Read on to find out.
Design and Technology
There are three different designs in the VP line. VP1 is a classic design with the plumber’s neck hosel similar to what you find in the Ping Anser 2 or various Scotty Cameron Newports. The VP2 has a slanted neck like the Scotty Cameron Newport 1.5. The back of the VP2 does not bevel like the Anser or Newport does. It’s cut more from the mold of the Ping Zing putter line. The VP3 is a mallet that has the look of the Scotty Cameron Red X.
All of the VP putters are mulled using a computer numeric controlled (CNC) process and 304 Stainless Steel and hand polished. This process is done to ensure an accurate and repeatable process with little variation.
The other feature of the VP Milled putters is the Dual Axis Alignment system. This aids the player to set up directly over the ball. It is done by placing a line on the back of the putter and a notch on the top. The goal is to align both while having your putter soled properly on the ground. If they align, then it should remove a major obstacle to poor putting – misalignment.
Look and Feel
For their first go-around, Cleveland has designed a good looking putter. If you took the markings off of a VP1 and a Cameron Newport or Newport 2, other than a notch where the neck hits the blade, there isn’t too much different. The bottom tier of the back is more rounded and beveled like the Newport and has a very similar finish to it.
The heel of the VP1 is closer to the Newport 2 though in that it doesn’t curve off as much. From the neck, it has a straighter line down towards the heel of the club. Really, it looks like Cleveland incorporated different parts of the Newport series into their VP line of putters, which isn’t a bad thing.
The only knock with the Cleveland, in my opinion, is the way they’ve branded or stamped the putter. The back of the putter looks a bit â€œflashy” to me. I would rather have seen a more classic and subtle logo. The Cameron and Ping putters never draw your eye away from the design of the putter. I can sit and stare at a Newport 2 for hours. With the large red â€œVP” on the back of the putter, you can’t help but to draw your eye to the logo and miss out on what is a well designed piece of work.
The feel of the VP putters is very satisfying as well. Blindfolded, I don’t think I could distinguish it from any of the other leading blade putters on the market. The ball generates a soft â€œclick” off the clubface and has just enough feedback in the face and up to the hands to help a player determine if it was struck properly or not.
The other aspect of the VP I liked is that when the putter is soled behind the ball it does not fall open or closed. During my routine I normally use one hand to put the club behind the ball. With the VP this is easy because the putter won’t rock in any direction after you’ve put it down – which is a must to me in a putter.
I tested a 34″ version of Cleveland VP2 with no modifications. The reason for the shorter shaft is that I bend over a bit more in my stance and 33″ and 34″ putters feel much more natural to me. I’ve tested other putters out at the same length and wanted to be consistent.
Similar to when I reviewed The Fat Lady Swings, I took the VP2 out for a few practice sessions initially. After using mallet putters for the past couple years it took a bit to adjust back to a blade. After 5-10 minutes on the practice green I felt like I was back home.
I ran through a series of straight three-, eight-, and twelve-foot putts for about a half hour. This range is the area where I, admittedly, need the most work and the area where the VP2 helped me the most. A lot of my problems start with bad alignment. For some reason during this session I did not have any issues rolling the ball on the line I wanted. I didn’t even focus on using the Dual Axis Alignment system and I was able to hole all the three footers and, in my estimate, 80% of the other putts. As a low-handicap golfer, I would expect to make straight 12 footers, but that hadn’t been the case. It was good to get the feeling back and have a bit more confidence over makeable putts.
After the success of the short putting session, I moved on to longer putts in the 30 foot range with the VP2. I experienced more of the same at this length as well. My putts started on line more often than with my other putters. I struggled a bit with the speed at first. The VP2 was a lot lighter than my older putter – a Monza Corza that I had put in the heaviest weights they make. It only took a few minutes to adjust my stroke and get a feel for the distance. Once I did, I consistently rolled the ball very well and made a handful in a 10 minute span.
I did try a few bombs with the VP2 as well. Again, the distance was an issue out of the gate and having to take a longer stroke was a bit challenging. Nothing some practice didn’t cure though.
I’ve now had the VP2 in my bag for a couple months and have absolutely no reason to replace it. The biggest difference for me is putting from inside 15 feet. My alignment problems are nearly gone and I’m finding myself holing more putts than I had with my old putter. Because of this, the number of three-putts has gone down as well. All this has me a bit more confident over the ball and as any golf head doctor would say, that’s not a bad thing.
Cleveland has made a strong push into the milled market with its VP line of putters. The VP2 I tested and still use today is a solid and dependable putter that has pushed me back into the blade camp. For a full $150 less than a comparable Scotty Cameron – the VP2 goes for $149 and Camerons are double that – I have absolutely no problem recommending it to any golfer on a budget looking for a good milled putter.
I give Cleveland high marks for their new creation. The look, feel and performance of the VP2 are all in line with what I would expect out of any Cameron. Well, maybe except for the logo on the back of the putter. If they would dull it down a bit it might be perfect. Just use the money you saved on few rounds of golf and some balls.