In prepping for the first chapter in this series, it became apparent to me that some of the terminology I use might not be fully known by all of our readership. As such, I’m hopeful that I can provide in this post a simple explanation of what I’m talking about when I refer to specific aspects of a putter. This post isn’t meant to be an in-depth review of any one area–each area will be discussed in more depth later. This post is meant to be an overview that will allow our readers to understand what the terms “toe hang,” “swingweight,” “lie angle,” or other various aspects actually mean. Of course, if anything is unclear or there are things I forget, please do mention in the comments so we can make sure they get added to the post.

1. Loft: the angle the putter face makes with respect to the ground when the shaft is straight (not pressed forward or leaning back).

2. Lie: the angle the shaft makes with respect to the ground. LG explained lie angle with respect to irons in his post about getting fit, here: https://thepowerfade.com/2012/07/10/review-lie-fitting-with-brian-razzari/. Putter lie is exactly the same.

3. Length: the length of the putter shaft as measured from the end of the grip to the ground. Note, the actual length of the shaft is likely less than this, as most putters do not have the shaft extend all the way into the head and down to the ground.

4. Hosel: in any club, the hosel is the joint at which the shaft meets the head. In putters, this is often called a “neck.”

5. Head weight: usually expressed in grams, it is the weight of the putter head without the shaft. A typical head weight ranges from 320 or so grams to 360 or so grams.

6. Swingweight: swingweight is the measure of how heavy the club head is with respect to the other components of the club. It gives the player an idea of how the club is balanced irrespective of how much it weighs in total. Swingweight is measured on a strange scale with a letter followed by a number such that “C-9” is followed by “D-0.” Typically, neutral swingweight is about D-0 for most clubs. Swingweight depends greatly on club length and head weight.

7. Toe hang: toe hang is a quantification of how the face of the putter is aligned when the putter is allowed to sit horizontally and unrestrained. Typically, this is determined by laying the putter on a flat surface (such as table) such that the shaft and grip of the club are on the table but the head hangs off the side. This allows the putter to rotate freely while the shaft lays flat and horizontally. Where the face points is then referred to based on its relation to a clock. “Face Balanced” is the putter pointing at 3:00. “Full toe hang” is the putter pointing at 6:00. “1/4 toe hang” is the putter pointing at about 4:30. All measures inbetween are typically referred to based on where they point on the clock. An illustration is included below:

8. Milling: most “high end” putters nowadays are made of a one-piece milled construction. Milling is essentially a process where a machine cuts metal from a block until it is the shape of the putter. This process results in a much more consistent end-product than typical forged (smashing a hot blank of metal until it’s the desired shape) or cast (pouring molten metal into a mold and allowing it to cool in the desired shape) constructions of previous generations. Milling may be coarse or fine, and in some putters, the mill marks may be very obvious, whereas it may be unnoticeable in others.

9. Grooves: some putters are made with patterns on the face that resemble grooves on an iron. The theory behind these is to provide “better roll.” Whether this is actually the case will be discussed in a post about grooves.

10. Alignment Aid: a line or dot (or anything else) on the putter head designed to aid the player in lining up his putter with the ball to some degree.

11. Offset: the progression of the face with respect to the shaft. Typically, “neutral” is considered 1/2 shaft offset. If the face of the putter is aligned with the center of the shaft, that is considered a neutral position. If the face is further to the right (for a right handed golfer), the putter is offset. If the face is further to the left, the putter has “negative offset.” In common vernacular, this is referred to as “face progression.” An illustration of offset is below:

12. Moment of Inertia: Often referred to as “MOI,” moment of inertia is a club head’s resistance to twisting based on its shape. This will be discussed in greater detail later, but there are certain head styles that are far better at avoiding twisting on off-center hits than others.

13. Green Speed: typically referred to as a number between 7 and 15, green speed is a measure of how many feet a ball rolls when coming off a Stimpmeter. A Stimpmeter is nothing more than a yard stick with a notch in it. A course superintendent will measure his green speed by laying the Stimpmeter flat on the ground, putting a ball into the notch, and then lifting one end of the Stimpmeter until the ball comes out of the notch. It rolls down the meter stick and then continues until friction stops it. The length that that ball rolls quantifies how fast the greens run that day. “10” is a good representation of an average course for public play. “13” would be unusually fast and extremely difficult for most golfers. “7” would feel very shaggy and slow to most golfers.

14. Head Style: There are generally two types of head styles: mallet and blade. There are, of course, degrees to each, but a mallet is generally a head that has substantial matter behind the point of contact (much like looking at a driver/fairway wood). A blade is a putter that has a single line of metal behind the point of contact (much like looking at an iron). As stated, there are variants, but these are the general styles.

15. “Anser”: The original design by Karsten Solheim, founder of PING Golf, that first introduced perimeter weighting to the golf industry.

16. “Pistol”: Also known as a “paddle,” it’s the style of grip most used by players today, where the front side of the grip is flat in line with the line of putt and the back of the grip is tapered to give the hands some feel of the direction of the face. The much less popular style of grip is simply “round.”

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This review has been a long time in the making. For anyone in the Northern California Area, do yourself a favor and take a day to check out Poppy Ridge in Livermore, CA. (Note, Poppy Ridge is distinct from Poppy Hills in Monterey, CA – we have also reviewed that course here.)

Poppy Ridge has fast become one of my favorite facilities in the East Bay. Given the general lack of good public golf in the peninsula, I have had to venture out to find good courses. I need look no further than Poppy Ridge. The facility has 3 championship nines, full driving range and short game facilities, and award winning clubhouse. Moreover, in this area, the deal is hard to beat. NCGA members (if you’re not and you live in NorCal, what are you doing!?) get significant discounts on merchandise and tee times, as well as a free club fitting every year. The NCGA price to play 18 is $72 for Early and Prime times on the weekend, with an additional 9 for $20, or $32 for 18. In my estimation, for the quality of golf, speed of play, and ease of booking, there is no better deal than 27 or 36 at Poppy.

 

The facility has 3 distinct nines – Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Merlot. (Scorecard). All were designed by Rees Jones. From the tips, the nines are about the same length, with Merlot claiming the award for “longest nine” at 3593 yards. As their names suggest, each nine has a slightly different character. Chardonnay is the most “interesting” of the nines. The first green is one of those that appears to have an elephant buried under it. The second is a risk-reward par-4 that appears driveable, but in my experience really is not. Zinfandel shows slightly more teeth than Chardonnay with tighter driving areas and smaller greens. Merlot is the most exposed and strategic of the nines. The wind that is familiar to those who play in the East Bay really becomes a factor on this nine. Only the 7th hole provides a respite from the wind as it down in a valley between the 6th and 8th.

In my experience, all three nines are generally open for play, with tee times split between the nines so that no groups are really waiting on any others. This fact, In and of itself, this is the best reason to play Poppy, and the reason that I was hesitant to even write this review 🙂

 

A quick story – The par-5 8th hole on the Zinfandel course is one of those holes that has taught me a good lesson about being aggressive. Normally, I play this hole as a 3 shot hole even though I am generally within “3 wood range.” The last time I was out there, I had a nice tail wind and felt confident with my 3 wood given that I had just hit a solid 3 wood on the last par 5. I took a good swipe and ended up hooking the shot more than I had intended. The ball drew slowly and inexorably toward the hazard stakes over the creek. After muttering my usual string of swear words, I walked over to the hazard and found the ball sitting up in the deep rough. From here, I played my third to a bunker to avoid the possibility of hitting the creek and was able to get up and down for a par with a decent bunker shot. The point, i suppose, is that I gave myself a shot at a great score on the hole and was able to save a solid par after getting into a particularly bad position on the approach. My takeaway – be aggressive.

 

All in all – Poppy is a fantastic track. Not having to wait on a tee box, 27 championship holes, great facilities, a decent burger at the turn, and pretty solid golf conditions year round…What else could you possibly ask for? Join the NCGA and go play!

 

updated Monday, 8/13

Alright, JK.  It’s our last shot of the year to call ’em.  The course: The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

LG:

Winner: Dustin Johnson T-48, +5 – winner, Rory Mcilroy
Winning Score: +2 -13
Runner Up: Tiger Woods David Lynn (who?)
Low PGA Professional: Mitch Lowe No idea
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Branden Grace M/c – how about David Lynn?
Last Year’s Winner (Keegan Bradley) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut):  Top 10 Correct, T-3, -4
The Master’s Winner (Bubba) Will: MC T-11, -2
The US Open Winner (Webb) Will: MC correct
The Open Champion (Ernie Els) Will: MC T-48, +5
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 2 1, Keegan Bradley

1 Rory McIlroy -13 67 75 67 66 275 $1,445,000 600
2 David Lynn -5 73 74 68 68 283 $865,000 0
T3 Justin Rose -4 69 79 70 66 284 $384,500 147
T3 Keegan Bradley -4 68 77 71 68 284 $384,500 147
T3 Ian Poulter -4 70 71 74 69 284 $384,500 147
T3 Carl Pettersson -4 66 74 72 72 284 $384,500 147
T7 Blake Adams -3 71 72 75 67 285 $226,000 91
T7 Jamie Donaldson -3 69 73 73 70 285 $226,000 0
T7 Peter Hanson -3 69 75 70 71 285 $226,000 0
T7 Steve Stricker -3 74 73 67 71 285 $226,000 91
T11 Ben Curtis -2 69 77 73 67 286 $143,286 65
T11 Bubba Watson -2 73 75 70 68 286 $143,286 65
T11 Tim Clark -2 71 73 73 69 286 $143,286 65
T11 Geoff Ogilvy -2 68 78 70 70 286 $143,286 65
T11 Graeme McDowell -2 68 76 71 71 286 $143,286 65
T11 Tiger Woods -2 69 71 74 72 286 $143,286 65
T11 Adam Scott -2 68 75 70 73 286 $143,286 65

Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? DJ Wins it.  No more bunker issues. Rory won it…period
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? John Daly making the cut. 8-shot win by Rory, although Daly was a nice story for a little while
Jason Dufner will: Top 10 T-27, +1
Tiger Woods will: Top 10 T-11, -2
Rory McIlroy will: Make cut HA!
Zach Johnson will: MC Solo 70th at +12
Steve Stricker will: Make cut T-7, -3
Dustin Johnson will: WIN!! T-48, +5
Who is most likely to “Jason Dufner” it on the 17th hole on Sunday? Jason Dufner. it didn’t matter
Adam Scott will: Go home early – MC. T-11, -2

JK
Winner: Matt Kuchar Cut with an 82 on Friday!
Winning Score: -7 -13
Runner Up: Zach Johnson took down solo 70th.
Low PGA Professional: Mitch Lowe again, no clue, but congrats to mitch for making the field
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Brenden de Jonge T-54, +6
Last Year’s Winner (Keegan Bradley) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Make the Cut T-3, -4
The Master’s Winner (Bubba) Will: Make the Cut Correct, T-11, -2
The US Open Winner (Webb) Will: Make the Cut nope..MC
The Open Champion (Ernie Els) Will: MC T-48, +5
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 2 just keegan
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it? Kuchar putts his way to a championship Rory does everything on his way to the championship
What will be the biggest story of the tournament? Should we ban the arm-putter? record-breaking rory
Jason Dufner will: Top 10 T-27, +1
Tiger Woods will: Top 10 close, T-11, -2
Rory McIlroy will: MC lol
Zach Johnson will: Runner up lol
Steve Stricker will: Make the Cut T-7, -3. Good showing for Strick
Dustin Johnson will: Top 10 no
Who is most likely to “Jason Dufner” it on the 17th hole on Sunday? Jason Dufner who cares?
Adam Scott will: MC. And take the long putter home with him. fail