Tuesday, July 2, 2013

YAR Putter Review

Over the past six months I had a lot of readers ask me about the YAR Putter. I tried to look up information on the putter, but could not find anything that I thought was unique about it. That was until I started reading posts from Geoff Mangum’s site (http://www.puttingzone.com/) on the design of the putter and I started to better understand what the YAR putter was about. I received my YAR putter this past Thursday and have been using it ever since.

Before the YAR putter, I had been using my Edel putter. I still think Edel makes the finest putters out on the market. In fact, my feeling was that if the YAR putter doesn’t work, I can still go back to my Edel putter. But the reason for trying the YAR putter was that I felt that the design was different enough and advantageous enough that it warranted me giving it a try.

The YAR putter was designed by Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt (aka Dr. V). She is not a golfer and designed the putter for a friend with arthritis. Dr. V works for the Department of Defense and was one of the main designers of the B-2 Stealth Bomber.




There are 2 main concepts of the YAR putter:

1. Create a design where the putter head ‘flies’ during the stroke like an airplane or fighter jet is designed to fly thru the air.

2. Create a design where the putter head is stable as it collides with the ball at impact, much like an airplane or fighter jet is stable as it collides with objects in flight.

But the main part is that the YAR putter is designed almost the exact opposite as putters are designed today. And that is what makes it very unique and I believe beneficial for many golfers.


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One of Mangum’s chief complaints about putter designs is that they are apt to make the golfer open the blade at impact. First, we essentially have 3 putter designs, ‘full toe hang’, ‘half toe hang’ and ‘face balanced.’ Here’s a video explaining the differences.



With the toe hang putters, they frequently cause the golfer to open the blade at impact. One of Mangum’s suggestions is that the golfer has to grip the putter tighter in order to not allow the vectors of the putter to open the blade up.

While that may sound simple, it can create the issue of trying to determine how tight to grip the putter. Too tight and you have too much tension. Not tight enough and the blade is more likely to open up. I also feel with tighter grips the golfer ends up making a more conscious putting stroke instead of being able to freely swing the arms and the putter back and forward. I feel that the best way to make good contact is with a free arm swing. I think the better putters on Tour that use toe hang putters are good at gripping the putter tight enough while producing a free arm swing and have learned to prevent that blade from opening up. Not always easy to do.

Conversely, the face balance putters present much of the same issue. In particular, the ‘High MOI’ putters. That’s why I have avoided those putters like the Taylor Made Spider because most people I’ve seen putt with the Spider cannot consistently make short putts.

Ironically, David Edel told me the issue with those High MOI putters is that all of the MOI is towards the back end of the putter. And that causes golfers to leave the face open at impact and miss putts to the right. That is why Edel created a ‘Torque Balanced’ putter which is virtually impossible to leave the blade open at impact.



What YAR has created is a putter with virtually *no* MOI. This is exactly the opposite of the High MOI putters. And according to Dr. V, this is in conjunction with the physics that aerospace engineers use.

One look at the putter and we start to see some things that take the characteristics of an airplane.








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The first part of the process is getting fitted for the putter. This can be done online. You will need to plug in some measurements on their Web site. They do not charge you until they go over your measurements in a phone call. Here’s the video showing their fitting process:



I actually had the numbers incorrect. Thankfully, they called to notify me that the numbers didn’t make a lot of sense. I’ve been told that this is quite common which is why they call customers first before they charge them and ship out the putter.

I believe the reason why my numbers were initially incorrect was that I was fitting myself for your normal putter.

For starters, the YAR putter will be MUCH longer than your typical putter. My Edel Putter is 34” long. The YAR putter is 38-1/4” long.

The reason for this is that the YAR putter is designed so one can look at the CUP comfortably while making their stroke (which I will get to in a bit). We do not want to crouch over like we do with a normal length putter. So there is a good possibility that the measurements you make will be too short in length and too flat of a lie angle.

The putter costs $270 which includes a face plate and shipping. I received my putter 1 week from the date I plugged my measurements online.


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What intrigued me most about the YAR putter is it is designed to allow the golfer to look at the cup while making their putting stroke. Ever since my junior golf days, I always thought that being able to look at the cup while putting would be advantageous if the golfer could execute it. I always felt that one of the difficult parts of putting was ‘memorizing’ the stroke you had to take in order to have the right speed for the putt.

The issue for me was the execution. It’s very easy to mis-hit a putt as it is. Stroking the putter while looking at the cup makes those mis-hits more likely. With the YAR design, we can see how it is much more stable on mis-hits than other putters. Just take a look at these videos from Kelvin Miyahira











So, the YAR putter design is created to make a ‘good stroke’ even when looking at the cup. And if you mis-hit it, the YAR putter can handle the mis-hit because it’s extremely stable thru impact.

Here’s a video of Robbie Camacho putting with a YAR putter. Notice how he is looking at the hole every time he strokes the putter.



I also became more interested in the ‘looking at the hole while putting’ technique as recently Boo Weekley has greatly improved his putting while working with his instructor, Scott Hamilton. SAM Puttlab data shows that the best putters on Tour have a clubhead speed that goes about the same in speed back as it does in the thru stroke.

However, the best putters reach peak acceleration of the putter head right before impact. When Weekley’s data was taken on the SAM Puttlab they found that his peak acceleration was *after* impact. And in order to cure that, they started having Weekley look at the cup while he stroked the putter in his pre-shot routine. From there, his goal was to ‘memorize’ that stroke and he has gone from being by far the worst putter on Tour to currently ranking 173rd out of 185th (which is a big improvement). So I tend to believe that if looking at the cup can improve one’s acceleration profile of their putting stroke, then having a putter where you can look at the cup and putt may be extremely beneficial.


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The putter itself is much heavier than your typical putter. One simple reason is that it is much longer. My YAR putter is 13% longer than my Edel putter.

The head is certainly an unusual design.



It’s actually a smaller head than it appears, even when you have the putter in your hand and you are putting it. The length from heel to toe is 1-5/8”. My Edel is 3-3/4” from heel to toe.

Here’s a look at the putter from down the shaft



I’m sure it will not win any beauty awards. For me, I will putt with a pink flamingo if I make more putts. But, I do find some irony in this putter considered to be ‘ugly’ as that is what people used to say about the PING Anser when it first came out. Also, if you are looking at the hole you won’t see it very much 

I expected the putter to feel lighter, particularly in the head section. But, it did not feel that radical to me. However, I did find that it was very easy to make a little arced stroke back and thru. I tend to struggle with a ‘cut-across’ stroke due to my right aim bias. The Edel putter has helped repair that. With the YAR putter, it naturally swings back and thru on an arc. It also feel s virtually impossible to leave the blade open at impact.

When I look at the ball while putting, it is almost impossible to not make quality contact. The head is so short and compact that it makes very nice feeling contact.

The test was when I would look at the hole while stroking the putter.

What I found was that I can consistently make quality contact while looking at the hole. I struggled a bit at first. But, I found that you have to use the entire length of the putter. If you grip down or if you crouch like you would with a standard putter, you’re not going to make good contact.

If you use the entire length of the club and look at the hole, the putter will consistently return to the ball and make quality contact. It will probably feel a bit like you are impersonating Raymond Floyd putting.



And I found that even when I mis-hit putts by a good amount, the speed was generally pretty good. If I missed it badly off the heel, it would usually miss left. Miss it off the toe and it would miss right. Very different from the standard putters I’ve used.

In general, I found that I putt very well with the YAR putter, particularly on putts inside 15 feet. Longer putts are not that big of a deal either. If there’s a bit of a problem it’s on putts with a lot of break. But, I believe that is because those putts probably require more focus towards the direction of where the apex of the putt is than the hole as I usually hit those big breaking putts too hard.

For now, I fully plan to keep the YAR putter in my bag. I think the YAR putter is a good putter for those people who have more issues related to their putting stroke rather than their aim. I think the Edel putters are more for those that have more aiming issues than stroke issues or if their poor aim causes them to make big compensations in their putting stroke.







3JACK

9 comments:

Greg said...

what is that finish option...titanium?

Rich H. said...

They have quite a few different finish options, from black to white to red to blue, etc.

Greg said...

Where do you look on a large breaking and/or downhill putt?

JWK said...

Not saying that the putter doesn't work as advertised. However...read the article recently posted on ESPN.com, as it contains some very puzzling questions about the "inventor" of the putter:

http://grantland.com/features/a-mysterious-physicist-golf-club-dr-v/

EDS said...

I just read the same article. Talk about stinking like fish. I still think I would like to get my hands on one though.

ndogg99 said...

I read the article and it was crazy! A pretty sad story. I bought a Yar putter late last year and I have to tell you, I went on a tear with it. I felt like the hole was a coffee can from inside 6 feet and I made more putts outside 30 feet than I had in a long time. Went from a 2 handicap to a 1 the last third of the season due to this putter.
I know I'll take a ribbing from the guys on this article, but I'm not giving my Yar up! I tell them I don't care if a retarded circus monkey designed it, it works!!

Kevin said...

I bought the Yar last summer and I love it. I've never made so many putts. One question that I hope someone can answer: I'm a little confused between zero MOI and high MOI. I thought MOI was a measure of resistance to twisting when an object is in motion. Doesn't the Yar putter resist the twisting that you usually see in heel shafted putters? If so, how can this be zero MOI?

Eric Swanson said...

I too bought one a year or so ago... Used... Pretty clear now that the marketing claims were likely a pack of lies whipped up to create buzz... Similar to the lies and obfuscation created by Ms Vanderbilt, regarding his/her background... Too bad the web of lies caught up to her and ended in suicide... As for the putter, it's now something of a collectors item, which is cool... I should also say that, regardless of the fraudulent science behind the putter, it really is quite effective...

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