Never Compromise GM2 Exchange 3 This center-shafted mallet comes preset with a pair of ten-gram weights, but the included five- and fifteen-gram plates allow you to configure total head weight to between 320 and 370 grams—a great way to match green speed with personal preference. The various configurations noticeably affect the putter's feel and the amount of jump on the ball. That's also helped by the clubhead's wings, which are designed to enhance stability at impact. The double-bend center shaft effectively balances the weight of the CNC-milled body, and the face insert, an aluminum-composite weave, gives the putter a quality look. $299. Call 800-999-6263 or visit www.exchangeputters.com.
Slighter Tacoma Some golfers dream of their perfect putter with scary specificity—they just don't know where to find it. They might consider turning to (surprise) a State Farm auto claims manager in suburban Seattle. Tom Slighter handcrafts putters in his free time (spending about ten hours per flatstick) and takes a great deal of pride in his custom work—the results of which, however wild or conservative, can be seen on his web site. Precision milled from surgical-grade stainless steel, the head of the Tacoma model we tested was slightly heavier than usual, which made the ball feel exceptionally soft. $380. Visit www.slightergolf.com.
Win a Slighter Putter
Edel Golf Vari-loft David Edel is a throwback craftsman with a modern spirit of innovation. His motto: The putter chooses you more than you choose it. It'll come from a fitting cart bearing thirty million combinations of head shapes, hosels, offsets and so on. Edel has ten carts around the world (including one at Pebble Beach) and a studio north of Bandon Dunes. Perfect for adjusting to green speeds, the Vari-loft model includes three interchangeable face plates—in your ideal loft as well as plus and minus one degree (for slower and faster greens, respectively). Edel says the soft and solid impact is how a well-fitted putter should always feel. $800. Visit www.edelgolf.com.
Rife Barbados Like its popular Two Bar line, the soft feel of the three models in Rife's new Island series comes from its RollGroove technology, in which the protruding edges of the face's thirteen grooves momentarily grip the ball at impact, absorbing any harsh vibrations. Rife's best custom solution is focused on getting the putter to sole properly—no more putting with the toe in the air. The Two Bar comes with a bending block, but with the Island series you can actually use your foot to adjust the lie angle: Just stand on the putter head and ease the soft shaft flatter or more upright. Sounds primitive, but it works. $180. Call 800-496-9373 or visit www.guerinrife.com.
Coutour Dornoch Coutour Golf founder Todd Sones uses the Pythagorean theorem to fit your putter. A short-game expert and one of America's top golf instructors, he is adamant that proper posture is key to getting correctly fitted. The Tri-Fit method measures from your wrist to the floor and from the ball to your toe line to arrive at the proper shaft length. Most companies won't produce heads of various weights to accommodate shorter or longer shafts; for Sones, this is a bedrock principle. You can get fitted through Coutour's network of PGA pros or by entering your data at the company's web site. $260. Call 888-348-7887 or visit www.coutourgolf.com.
TaylorMade Rossa Inza The Anti-Skid Groove face insert nearly covers the narrow face of this oversize inverted mallet—it almost makes you wonder if you'll have enough room to make contact on a long putt from off the green. But TaylorMade says this is by design: The longer the backswing, the more likely it is that mis-hits will occur, and when they do you'll need the Inza's stability. The putter feels solid at impact on most putts, and its long center line helps you find the middle of the face rather easily. The Inza's back weights can be interchanged to account for various green speeds; two four-gram weights are installed at purchase and a pair of fourteen-gram plugs are included in the weight kit. $189. Call 800-456-8633 or visit www.taylormadegolf.com.