Welcome to another edition of Yo, Gear Guy!, an interactive GOLF.com series in which our resident dimplehead (a.k.a., GOLF’s deputy editor of equipment, Mike Chwasky) fields your hard-hitting golf gear questions. This week addresses short putter hosels, differences between Titleist Pro V1 and AVX golf balls, and whether or not you should be suing cord golf grips.
DitkaB2 on Instagram: I’ve played a mallet with an S-bend shaft and no hosel for years but now I see a ton of mallets with short hosels. Should I try one?
The putter you’ve been gaming for awhile is almost definitely a face-balanced design, meaning the clubface will point straight up at the sky when you balance the shaft on your finger. Though this definition is also the best way to reliably check the balancing of your putter, the most important thing to know about face-balanced putters like yours is that they tend to work well for strokes that move straight back and straight through the target line. Of course very few players if any actually can swing the putter on a path that’s literally straight back and forward on the target line but you get the idea – they’re best for strokes with minimal arc and minimal release. For this reason face balanced putters, most of which tend to be mallets, also work well for players who tend to miss left of the hole because they sometimes promote a slight push.
The “short hosels” you’re referring to that have been appearing in a lot of Tour mallets in recent years create more toe hang (balance the shaft on your finger and the toe points down to varying degrees). Unlike face balancing, toe hang promotes more rotation of the clubface through the stroke and works best for players with more arc and more release in their stroke. A high percentage of Tour players prefer this type of weighting and because a lot more of them have been switching to high MOI mallets in recent years (Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, and others), equipment manufacturers have been producing a wider range of hosels and weighting schemes to fit a wider range of players. TaylorMade’s Spider X model is a prime example though many Odyssey and Scotty Cameron mallets are also available with multiple hosel options (see the Phantom X line from Cameron or Odyssey’s Stroke Lab putters).
The bottom line here, provided you’ve been putting well with your face balanced mallet, is that while you can always try a new flatstick there’s probably no reason to try one with a flow neck hosel and toe-down weighting.
PAwallie91 on Instagram: I’ve been a loyal Pro V1 player for years but find the AVX is going longer and feels softer. Does it spin too low for me and what’s up with the weird dimples?
First, the “weird” dimples aren’t anything strange but rather due to a slightly different cover formulation than the Pro V1 (called GRN41 thermoset urethane) and a different pattern (spherically tiled 352 tetrahedral catenary) as well. Remember the AVX produces the lowest trajectory and lowest spin of all the Titleist Tour models (AVX, Pro V1, Pro V1x) and requires different aerodynamics to achieve the optimal launch and spin characteristics for a lower compression model. It’s a great product and without a doubt the folks who work in Titliest’s golf ball R&D department definitely know what they’re doing.
Now for the bigger question – does the AVX spin too low for you? Well, you said it’s going longer in a way that makes me think you like that aspect of its performance, so I suppose it’s fine. Probably not the answer you’re looking for but, though ball fitting on a launch monitor definitely has a lot of merit, it’s really critical to test golf balls on the golf course to see if they work for you. So a more detailed way of determining if the AVX provides ample spin for your game is to ask yourself the following questions: Are your drives carrying the desired distance or dropping out of the sky prematurely? Do your iron shots do the same and do they hold the green when they land? Do your short approaches and chips and pitches around the green react the way you want or do they run out too much? If you don’t have any of the negative effects of slightly lower spin mentioned above, then most likely the spin rates are adequate for you.
TommyT2 on Instagram: I noticed a lot of Tour players like Tiger use cord grips so I’m going to follow suit – which models are best and are they made with actual cord?
Yes, Tiger, Brooks Koepka, and a lot of other Tour players use Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet Cord grip that features the same pattern as my personal favorite Tour Velvet but with the addition of cotton cord. And since you asked, according to Golf Pride’s Bruce Miller the cotton cord strands (yes, actual cord) are sandwiched between two thin layers of rubber and then molded into the grip. Once the rubber is molded the surface is sanded just enough to remove a thin layer, exposing the cord underneath. He also mentioned that anyone with worn cord grips can lightly sand them to expose a bit of fresh cord when desired.
Other than the aforementioned Tour Velvet Cord (golfpride.com), Golf Pride also makes the super popular MCC (New Decade Multi Compound) which is actually a hybrid grip with a buffed lower section and a cord upper section (see Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, and Rickie Fowler), which you can easily pick out on TV due to the different colors offered like red, white, blue, and orange, all of which are mixed with a black section. Golf Pride’s ZGRIP is another popular cord model used on Tour (by Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey) that is actually the firmest and toughest model the company offers. Some others you might consider are Lamkin’s UTX and Crossline Full Cord (lamkingrips.com), and although they’re not cord, Winn’s DriTac (winngrips.com) line will perform in all weather conditions.
One quick word of warning – if you haven’t played full cord grips before be prepared for some potential discomfort at first. Although cord grips are better than ever, they’re still quite a bit rougher on the hands than a standard rubber grip and can take some getting used to.
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