"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?
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
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
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
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.