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Dead On Putter Offers Great Feel and Feedback

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Dead On Putter

The Dead On Putter Series III with offset shaft.

Photo courtesy Elite Sports Products; used with permission
Former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said of trying to define what constitutes "obscenity" in a legal sense, "I know it when I see it."

"Feel" is something most golfers know when they, well, feel it.

We've been playing with the Dead On Putter, made by Elite Sports Products, and have heard as much positive feedback about it as any putter we've recently tried. And much of that feedback relates to "feel," with plenty of other positive feedback on the feedback offered by the putter itself.

What Is A Dead On Putter?

Elite Sports Products was founded in 2004 by Phil Vinton after Dan Gonzales, a PGA Professional now in charge of PGA Sales & Marketing for the company, came up with the idea for a new putter. Vinton - like many golf club designers - has a background in aerospace and biomedical engineering. And he set about bringing Gonzales' design ideas to fruition.

Several iterations later, the Dead On Putter Series III wound up in my hands. It's also been winding up in the hands of PGA Tour, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour pros, as Elite Sports Products was approved in April 2007 by the PGA Tour for Manufacturers Credentials, giving the company the ability to share its putters inside-the-ropes with touring pros at Tour events.

So what is a Dead On Putter? The top photo on this page shows the complete putter; the second image is the underside of the body of the putter with its distinctive "wings;" the third image is a shot of the putter head from the rear, showing its internal cavity. All components are CNC machined; the putter head is milled out of solid block stainless steel; the body out of solid blocks of aircraft-grade aluminum.

When the body is secured to the head, it seals the internal cavity, and the assembled putter weighs 369 grams. Offset and center-shaft versions are available.

As in other mallet-style putters, a focal point of the design of the Dead On Putter is Moment of Inertia, or MOI. When talking about MOI, Vinton cites studies done by short-game guru Dave Pelz on the effects of missing the sweet spot on the putter face.

MOI and Alignment

Dead Putter Putter

The body of the Dead On Putter, with its distinctive "wings" and "accelerating arrows" alignment aid. This is the view from the bottom; the three-digit number is the serial number of this individual putter.

Photo courtesy Elite Sports Products; used with permission
"Pelz found out that on average, an 8-foot putt hit a quarter of an inch toward the toe (off center) will miss the hole 95-percent of the time," Vinton said. "This is why having a larger moment of inertia is so important. MOI is actually 'resistance to motion' from an outside source; so in golf if a ball is hit off-center it will tend to twist the club off target. The higher MOI of a club, the less it will twist for a given contact."

We found the Dead On Putter to be superb on off-center strikes, as we'll get to in a moment.

But another focal point of the Dead On Putter is alignment.

The "peep sight" is a hole (it looks like a black dot in the photo) about three-quarters of an inch behind the clubface. Set up with this beneath your forward eye and you'll know that the putter face is forward in your stance and your head is behind the ball.

And on the body of the putter are the "accelerating arrows," a series of arrows crafted down the centerline that become sharper (or "pointier") as they approach the putter face. These arrows work well as alignment aids, but Vinton believes they have another benefit: imparting a sense or feeling of forward motion to the golfer that helps guard against deceleration in the stroke, particularly on short putts.

Since getting its Manufacturers Credentials, Elite Sports Products officials have attended several PGA Tour and Champions Tour events seeking feedback on the Dead On Putter from touring pros.

And Vinton says that feedback has been excellent, and focused on "feel."

Trying It Out

"After the first putt, and they got used to the club, they all talked about the 'feel' of the putter," Vinton said. "They hit it on the toe and the heel and were astounded about how true the ball still rolled, and were able to stroke the ball with an exact expectation of the results."

A company official is, of course, going to claim that everyone loves his product. Would we discover the same things when we tried the Dead On Putter ourselves?

In a word, yes.

About.com Golf got off to a good start with the Dead On Putter when I dropped a ball on a practice green and putted to the nearest cup, 10 feet away. Dead-on, indeed, right into the cup.

I didn't make all my putts the first time out, but I'll say this: the Dead On Putter kept putts rolling smoothly and online; there was a great feel at impact, crisp and clean without being poppy. And the feedback was outstanding.

I set up with the ball at the toe-end of the putter face and gave it a rap. That one fell into the cup, too. Two things struck me immediately: the difference in sound was impossible to miss. There was a much louder and hollower sound; much more of a "bonk" thank a "boing."

But it didn't feel like a "bonk." It didn't feel as good as a center strike, either, but the feel was better than expected - as was the result.

After using the Dead On Putter more extensively, it became clear that the aural feedback is one of the great characteristics of the club. The sound changes quite dramatically as your strikes move farther away from the sweet spot.

The Sound of Feedback

Dead On Putter

A view of the interior of the Dead On Putter head. When the body is fitted to the head, the interior chamber remains hollow; the sound the putter makes at impact provides terrific feedback.

Photo courtesy Elite Sports Products; used with permission
Being just a smidge offcenter produces a distinct tone, one that immediately tells you of your mishit.

Yet, that mishit seems to be quite mitigated by the Dead On Putter. I've hit many toe and heel strikes since then with the Dead On, and am always impressed by how well the ball stays on its intended line.

All of the golfers with whom we shared our Dead On Putter offered remarks along the same lines. Mostly, everyone agreed that the "feel" was terrific. We believe Vinton when he talks about the reception the Dead On Putter has gotten at Tour events, because we've experienced the same "feel" that apparently impresses the tour pros.

And we believe that most golfers who try a Dead On Putter will be equally impressed.

Dead On Putters
All three putters made so far in the Dead On series share the same shape. There are some differences in weighting and weights:

  • Series I: Fixed weights in the "wings" of the putter body; 333 gram total head weight with offset shaft; 344 grams with center shaft.
  • Series II: Adjustable weights in the wings, made of aluminum (369 gram total head weight), stainless steel (427 grams) or tungsten (533 grams).
  • Series III: Solid aluminum wings (no adjustable weights or weight plugs). Center shaft and offset shaft versions weigh the same, 369 grams.
The Series III putters cost, at the time of this writing, $269, and can be ordered through the Elite Sports Products Web site at www.elitesp.com.
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