WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Cleveland’s Frontline putters introduced the idea that maybe the best way to get a more accurate putter isn’t to go with conventional wisdom and push weight away from the face. Instead, the theory goes, by concentrating heel and toe weighting as far forward (even on the face itself), combined with a milled face pattern that moderates speed, off-centre hits roll as true as centre hits. The line adds six new models in both blade and mallet categories with several hosel choices, giving 13 total options in the line.
PRICE: $229.95 (six new models: Blades—2.0, 8.0 Slant Neck, 8.0 Single Bend; Mallets: 10.5 Slant Neck, 10.5 Single Bend, Elevado Plumber’s Neck). In stores late February.
THE DEEP DIVE: Cleveland proved about 18 months ago that sometimes the logic behind the way things always have been done should be questioned.
That reexamination of what the golf world thought about building forgiveness in putters yielded the Frontline, a series of putters whose premise was that weight forward might actually produce more consistent results in distance and direction rather than the conventional wisdom of weight back.
It’s a complicated bit of science, but the gist seems literally the opposite of what we’ve always thought about forgiveness in golf clubs. Specifically, it’s generally the case that the farther back you move the centre of gravity, the more stable the clubhead. That means there’ll be less energy loss on an off-centre hit, so bad shots will produce results much more like good shots. That’s why we see many mallet putters, for example, with heavy materials like tungsten deep in the perimeter.
Cleveland’s engineers turned that idea inside out by developing a milled pattern that allows the face to dictate how much energy is transferred at impact. The pattern on the Frontline putters, originally seen in prior Cleveland putters like the Huntington Beach SOFT models, meant the heel and toe regions had more efficient energy transfer than the centre, thereby making up for the less than perfect strikes.
That face technology allowed engineers to focus on the problem of having the centre of gravity too far back. According to Jaacob Lambeth, research engineer at Cleveland Golf, even an off-centre hit on the slow impact of a putter creates putts that roll farther offline because the face rotates open slightly on such a mis-hit. It rotates more when the centre of gravity is farther back than when it’s closer to the face because of the greater azimuth angle, Lambeth said. The effect on a putter means a one-inch mis-hit won’t hit the hole from as little as 10 feet away – even if the putter is aimed perfectly at the hole.
The Frontline putters use nearly 50 grams of tungsten weight inset in the heel and toe of the face to push the centre of gravity forward. That reduces the rotation so those same mis-hits not only go in the hole from 10 feet, but from 15 feet, as well.
“The reason why we haven’t done this in the past is because if you were to move the CG forward then, yes, your toe hits might stay more on-line, but you’re going to lose a lot of ball speed,” Lambeth said. “So there’s going to be a negative effect overall, but if we can retain that ball speed, then we can focus on that CG depth and focus on the azimuth angle.”
In essence, the face design creates a similar benefit of a high-stability putter with the centre of gravity back, while moving the CG forward creates less dispersion.
The new models in the Frontline series include three blade-like options and three mallets. The 8.0 is a wide body blade offered in single bend (for straighter stroke types) and slant neck (for arcing strokes). The 2.0 is a flow-neck, heel-shafted flanged blade model. The 10.5, also offered in single-bend and slant-neck options, is a square-backed half-mallet. Finally, the Frontline adds a plumber’s neck option to the dual-winged Elevado mallet.
Each putter is offered in 33-, 34- and 35-inch lengths and includes the choice of standard or oversized Lamkin SINKFit grips. The new Frontline models expand the full range to 13 models.