When it comes to selecting a putter – do you look for something pretty or do you just want to get the ball in the damn hole?
Is something handcrafted and personalized up your alley, or do you just want to get the ball in the damn hole?
Does something premium-priced and custom-fit to your exacting specs float your boat, or do you just want to get the ball in the damn hole?
There’s an entire school of thought that claims price be damned, you have to love the looks of a putter to be able to putt well with it (our own #Datacratic studies show otherwise). Another school of thought believes in a strokes-per-dollar value matrix and thinks a high-dollar putter doesn’t always equate to fewer putts per round – they just want to get the ball in the damn hole.
If you’re a party of the first part, you may find today’s article challenging. If you’re a party of the second part, well, read on my friends. This just might make your day, as Cleveland is introducing some new weapons to help you get the ball in the damn hole: the TFi 2135 Satin putter line.
If there’s a late-summer leader for Golf Brand of the Year, it may very well be Srixon/Cleveland. Srixon’s drivers, irons, and hybrids have been atop the leader boards in MyGolfSpy’s Most Wanted testing this year, and Cleveland’s putters were solid performers in both our blade and mallet testing, with Cleveland’s Huntington Beach line providing remarkable performance for a $100 putter.
The new TFi 2135 Satin line will replace the existing TFi line, and there are three very specific tech changes that you’ll want to pay attention to. The first requires a quick explanation of just what 2135 means.
Specifically, 2135 refers to two things: the radius of a golf ball and the exact height of the putter’s alignment line – 21.35 millimeters. Zach Oakley, Cleveland’s Product Manager for putters, says since both are the same, you’re more likely to line the putt up accurately.
“When you try it you’re surprised at how much difference such a little thing like that can make when lining up a putt,” says Oakley, who adds Cleveland’s testing shows over 80% of golfers don’t have their eyes directly over the ball when they putt.
“Most have their eyes inside the ball, which creates a sightline more towards to the toe. Some have their eyes outside the ball, which creates a sightline more towards the heel. By raising the alignment line, the perception of misalignment is gone, so no matter where you’re standing at address, you’re going to have the right perception and your going to have correct alignment” – Zach Oakley, Cleveland Golf
Appearance-wise, the new Satin line represents a complete overhaul of the TFi series. Previous models featured a black head with a copper-colored face. The new line is, as the name would suggest, satiny in both body and face, but with a high contrast black backdrop to better frame the white sightline.
“It actually pops and has a lot more contrast,” says Oakley. “That contrast provides a 50% improvement in alignment.”
The new line features two blades – in Cleveland-speak they are the Anser-style 1.0 and the thicker, deeper 8.0 – and 4 mallets: the fang-toothed Elevado, the rounded Cero, the unique-looking Rho (more on that one later) and the Elevado CB (counter-balanced). While the 2-year old 2135 alignment aid is certainly different looking in the new line, Cleveland says it’s taking a major step forward with what it's calling model-specific face milling.
A Face By Any Other Name…
Distance control through putter face technology certainly is the thing in 2017. Evnroll‘s patented parabolic grooves and PING’s True Roll technology try to normalize ball speed across the putter face, even if you hit it a little off center. Cleveland’s Optimized Face Milling does the same thing, but takes the concept even further with unique milling patterns for each specific model.
“Based on the MOI and CG properties of each putter head, distance loss with off center hits is going to change,” says Oakley. “If you hit a putt off the toe with a blade it’s going to lose a lot more distance than if you hit a putt off the toe with a mallet. There’s kind of a mismatch if you stick the same face on both.”
At issue is contact surface on different parts of the face – the idea is to have less surface area contacting the ball in the sweet spot, with more surface area towards the toe and heel. The result is similar to perimeter weighting in irons – you’ll lose less ball speed when you miss the sweet spot and, in theory, the putt should roll the same distance as an on-center strike.
The faces on the Cero, Rho, and Elevado (all high MOI mallets) feature more gradual milling patterns (the Rho-specific patter is shown above). In theory, a high MOI mallet has a larger sweet spot, so the areas just slightly to the heel and toe of center have only slightly more material to come in contact with the ball. The further away you get from center, there’s more material to come in contact with the ball.
The lower MOI blades are just the opposite, with a much smaller sweet spot. The milling is much more aggressive (the 1.0-specific milling is shown above), with more and deeper grooves concentrated at the sweet spot for much less surface area for contact there, and a rapid increase in surface area as you move away from the sweet spot.
“Normalizing ball speed is important because let’s be real, most of us aren’t hitting the center of the face every single time,” says Oakley. “If you can have just a little bit of help, so you don’t leave that putt two or three inches short, well, that’s a stroke saved.”
The Klingon Putter?
The 1.0 and 8.0 blades are carry-overs from the previous TFi 2135 line, as are the Cero and Elevado mallets – all of which are fairly conventional putter shapes (the mid-mallet 6.5 model is not included in this release).
The Rho, however, is a little different.
“Usually the design team likes to kind of push the envelop with some of their designs,” says Oakley, “and then marketing has to reel them back in. But we wanted to have one shape in the line that’s different and not really traditional.”
Well, the Rho is definitely both of those. At first glance, the Rho looks like something a Klingon would putt with, but Oakley says the design team was thinking more Star Wars than Star Trek with the Rho.
“We call it the Tie Fighter because it does have that space ship look. It’s different, that’s for sure – there’s nothing out there that looks like it.”
Performance Vs. Value
To say Cleveland putters are underrated is kind of like saying the Jets have quarterback issues. If you pay attention at all, you know both the Huntington Beach and TFi lines were top-5 in MyGolfSpy's 2017 Most Wanted testing, with off-the-charts value given their specific price points compared to the competition.
“We’re for the golfer who is maybe into the techie side of things, but doesn’t want to spend $400.00 on a putter that may or may not help him,” says Oakley. “Putters are becoming like jewelry. A lot of our competitors are putting a lot of fancy looking bling on their putters. What we’re doing is putting stuff in the putter that’s actually helping performance.”
MyGolfSpy will put the new TFi’s through extensive testing soon, but early results show the entire line, from blade to mallet, to be remarkably stable and easy to stroke. These are fairly heavy putters – the 1.0 head is 345 grams, the Elvado, Rho and Cero mallet heads are 370 grams. The 8.0 blade and the Elvado CV heads are an ax-like 405 grams, with counter-balanced 148-gram grips. Speed control throughout the line seems spot-on, but further testing will be needed to compare Cleveland’s Optimized Face Milling to the Evnroll and PING technologies.
Another item of note is the Cleveland line is very much an off-the-rack offering. “Putter fitting hasn’t really been a focus for us in recent times,” says Oakley. “Most of that has to do with our price point. But a custom-fitting program is something we’re talking about, especially as we see more success in the putter market. It’s time to be taking that a little more seriously.”
For the custom-fit aficionado, if you do know your specs you can custom order any Cleveland putter for length, loft, and lie, with several grip options.
Price and Availability
The new TFi 22135 Satin line will be available starting September 15th. The 1.0, Elevado, Rho and Cero will retail for $149.99. Cleveland’s custom-designed (and Lamkin-made) TFi 2135 midsized pistol grip is standard, but you can order each putter with Cleveland’s oversized grip for an additional $10.00.
The counter-balanced models - Elevado CB mallet and 8.0 blade – will retail for $179.99.
And bad news for lefties – only the 1.0 blade will be available in a left-handed model at this time.
For more information, visit ClevelandGolf.com.