It Ain't Heavy, It's My Putter: Testing Daly's K4 flat stick

For the amateur golfer, it has long been one of the putting game's most vexing dilemmas: whether to prefer the bulky, branding-iron stability of the mallet putter over the more feel-friendly but decidedly less idiot-proof blade-style flat stick.

On the one hand, the heavy perimeter weighting of a wide mallet can be a tremendous help in keeping twitchy hands at bay, and in resolving issues of speed control - especially when it comes to long-distance lag putting.

The tradeoff, of course, comes when the ball is closer to the hole. With the nerves in play, the fine motor control of a lighter, more manageable utensil becomes paramount; when a stabby stroke pulls a heavy mallet off-line, it's simply too bulky to regain control, resulting in the most frustrating of golf's misses: the short putt.

Enter the compromise solution: the Heavy Putter Mid-Weight Series from Boccieri Golf.

Lighter than the early models that made Heavy Putter something of a household name, the Mid-Weight series offers the perfect balance point for players looking for the heft and stability of a mallet with the more traditional aesthetics and manageability of a blade.

Make no mistake, however - it's still heavy. As the Connecticut-based company itself has acknowledged, the original Heavy Putter, while based on sound theory, was simply too heavy for many players, who considered it a "quantum leap" to go from a standard model to one weighing upwards of 900 grams.

In the Mid-Weight, Boccieri believes it has found a happy medium. Available in five different head shapes and both a black and silver satin finish, the MW models weigh 750 grams, including a 400-gram head (about 125-150 grams heavier than standard), and a 200-gram counterweight in the grip.

The result is a confidence-inspiring, well-balanced putter that's heavy enough to function almost like a training aid - allowing a player to practice grooving a stroke with the larger muscles of the shoulders and the back, and taking the short-twitch muscles out of play - but still manageable enough to be playable. It's the perfect fix for the player who struggles with speed control on longer putts but demands the more understated aesthetics of a smaller, more traditionally shaped putter.

There's nothing wrong with the optics here, either.

The K4 Mid-Weight, a Laguna-style blade with minimal offset, is a sharp-looking putter with a flared toe to give the club a more symmetrical appearance at address, along with a grooved face to promote a smoother roll in the fashion of a Rife or Yes! flat stick. A series of grooves along the back of the putterhead also help give the club a sleek, streamlined look at address.

John Daly, a recent addition to the Heavy Putter staff, wielded a K4 during a strong rebuilding year in 2009 that included a runner-up finish at the BMW Italian Open in June.

"I've always had real problems with long backstrokes and never following through, causing deceleration - that's probably the worst thing you could ever do in putting," Daly says in this video endorsement posted by the company earlier this year.

"(The K4) makes my putting stroke a lot shorter . . . and it automatically makes you release the putter."

Anyone with a problem holding on to the putter through the ball, a typical symptom of tension or stress that causes a lot of blocked putts and stabby strokes, will definitely find it easier to develop a smoother, more pendulum-like stroke with the Heavy Putter, and get into the habit of allowing the putter head to square up through impact.

The extra weight takes some getting used to, however, so be prepared to make a commitment to this putter if you decide to take the plunge. That, or make the decision to use it as a practice aid if you think you'd prefer to stick to a standard-weight gamer. But there's little doubt that a little time with the Heavy Putter will allow you to better understand what sort of a putter you are.

The K4 is available in either a matte black or a stainless silver finish and carries a newly reduced MSRP of $119.95 US, down from $169.95 when it was first introduced. The price drop, according to the company, was the result of a "purchase program" that "leveraged increased production volume and significant economies-of-scale in the manufacturing process with no compromise in product quality."

In other words, they were able to make more for less, passing the savings along to the consumer without taking profits away from the retailer level.

The Mid-Weight series boasts five head shapes, including some more traditional mallet-style heads for those whose preferences might run more towards the Zebra-style putterhead. And if the latest news from Boccieri is any indication, the company has definitely found a sweet spot with the Mid-Weight Series.

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