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Different (Putting) Strokes

Two New Putters Poke Holes in Design Conventions

Wednesday, April 20, 2005; Page T05

Two putters that challenge conventional design -- and seek to resolve problems that dog most amateurs on the greens -- got a lot of attention at the annual PGA Merchandise Show this year.

The Pure Pendulum System ("it's not just putter, it's a system," says inventor Janis Zichmanis, a Canadian former ad man) offers a fascinating rethink of the "pendulum" stroke most putting teachers encourage.

Pure pendulum: Square, tapered handle permits balanced grip, symmetrical stroke.

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"As long as one hand is below the other, you really can't make a symmetrical, balanced stroke," says Zichmanis. His solution: a shorter putter with a grip that positions the hands level and side by side, facing each other. This makes it easier to produce an even, shoulder-rocking motion. It prevents the lead wrist from breaking down and thereby creating the speed-wrecking, putter-head-turning hand-flip.

We gave the Pure 1 putter a test, and the grip takes some getting used to. But it does indeed permit a stable, back-and-through motion that takes your hands out of the equation and sends the ball dependably straight. The putter also requires developing a new feel for distance, but the stroke is steady enough that you simply adjust how far back to take the head and then let gravity do its thing.

The Pure 1 offers some of the key advantages associated with belly or long putters, but without the whiff of desperation or the funny-looking spear sticking out of your bag. If the concept is intriguing, you can order just the grip ($29.95) and fit it onto you own putter. Or take the plunge and drop $225 for the Pure 1. Retail distribution is spotty, so check out the Web site at www.purependulum.com

The SeeMore Putting System (another system!) uses a unique visual aid to keep the putter's face square. As you look down at the putter head, find the red dot. If the dot is hidden, the face is square. If it's visible, the face is open or closed. Keep the dot invisible throughout your stroke, and you're golden.

The small firm (www.seemore.com) makes several putter models using the eye-dot, starting at $99. But its latest entry, the mallet-headed "Money Putter" ($199), adds another feature. Borrowing from the latest fad in driver design, it permits the user to adjust weights in the putter's head.

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