Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Thoughts on the YAR Putter

Yesterday an article from Grantland.com was written about the YAR putter and its creator, Dr. Essay Ann Vanderbilt.  It’s certainly a wild story and can be found at:
http://grantland.com/features/a-mysterious-physicist-golf-club-dr-v/

I had written a review about the YAR putter that can be found here:

I stopped using my YAR putter over a month ago and I went back to my Edel putter.  My introduction to the YAR didn’t happen until earlier this year.  But, during 2012 I had several readers e-mail me and ask what I thought about the putter.  I was a bit turned off by the wackiness of the Web site and some of the videos like the one doing to the Jack Nicholson presentation.  I couldn’t quite understand what made the putter allegedly superior.

In 2013 I had seen that Geoff Mangum had some positive things to say about the putter.  I do not believe he knew how the putter was fitted for given Mangum believes that it is more ideal to have the arms hang naturally downward at address.  He also does not like flat lie angles because it requires additional torque in the stroke of the putter.  I wrote about this recently:

The YAR putter is a very long putter (mine is 38-1/4” long and is at a flat lie angle.  I think Geoff liked what he had heard about the weight and head features of the putter, but didn’t know what the fitting process exactly consisted of and I don’t think he would have been in favor of the fitting process.  There’s a thread over at Mangum’s forum that gives that indication and it can be found here:

What started to pique my interest in the club is that some of the things being said about it seemed like they could work and made some sense.  I was told that the design is very similar to the design of an airplane.  I felt that the airplanes have similar motions in the down-stroke in a putting as the airplane would swooping in for a landing. 

The other part was the lack of MOI.  This is where it gets a bit confusing because I was told by some people that it had ‘zero MOI’ and others told me that it had ‘next to no MOI.’  I had many engineers that are readers of mine state that ‘zero MOI’ didn’t make sense or seem possible.  When I discussed that it had ‘next to zero MOI’, then that seemed more possible to these engineers.  But, they still questioned how that was applicable.  Since none of these engineers were in the fields of aerospace or aeronautics, they basically left it at it not making sense, but they weren’t going to question it.

Back in 2012 I had discussed Edel’s ‘Torque Balanced’ putters.  This can be found at the following links:

http://3jack.blogspot.com/2012/01/3jack-golf-pga-merchandise-show-journal_29.html
 

The big thing was that Edel Golf was against the ‘high MOI’ putters because they had a tendency for the golfer to leave the blade open at impact.  I had experienced this as I had several friends with high MOI putters like the Taylor Made Spider model.  And all of them struggled from 3-10 feet and would leave the blade open.  David Edel explained to me that the design of the high MOI putters is such where it will make the putters more apt to be open into impact and that the ‘torque balanced’ putters were designed to prevent that.  I have stroked the Torque Balanced putters by Edel and I find them to have an unusual, but great feel to them.  And you simply cannot open the blade into impact with them. 

The only downfall of the torque balanced design is that Edel cannot fit them so they align properly for the golfer.  They can come close, but their trademark line is their custom fit putters (which are also fitted for weight). And I still highly recommend trying the Edel putter out and they can be found at www.edelgolf.com

But what piqued my interest was that the YAR putter was claiming similar things as to how ‘high MOI’ heads were detrimental.  Lastly, I liked their claims that one could look at the cup while putting.  Every person I have talked to that deals with neuroscience and putting, usually with regards to speed/touch around the green, says the same things about how you can get the stroke required by looking at the hole while you take your putting stroke.  They often have the golfer envision there is an imaginary wall where the hole is and your object is to get the ball to rest at where the wall is. 

Given how important speed/touch is to putting well, I have been interested in being able to look at the hole while putting for a long time.  The problem was that I could not find a putter where I could look at the hole while stroking the putt and make good, consistent contact.

I decided to buy the putter.  The cost was $270.  My main skepticism was that even if it worked, I still worried about the alignment since it was not fitted for my alignment.  Still, I thought the prospects of putting great outweighed the risk of losing $270.

When I first got it, I putted lights out.  In fact, the very first putt I had with it was a 20 footer, downhill.  I looked at the cup while putting and drained it.  I proceeded to putt incredibly well for a few weeks.  Then I went into a bad drought and couldn’t make anything.  Afterwards, I started to look at the ball while putting and was very inconsistent.  Putt well one round followed by putting terribly the next round.  This eventually led to me taking the YAR out of my bag and going back to my trusty Edel putter.  I eventually experimented with my Edel belly putter and I trimmed that down to 35 inches and really like the way I’m putting with it.

While the article written on Grantland was fascinating subject matter, I feel the author kinda got lost in the YAR putter in the midst of all of the madness around Stephen Krol (aka Dr. Vanderbilt).  It seemed as soon as Krol told Hannan that it was alright to interview him about the putter science and not the scientist behind the putter…all Hannan wanted to do was to learn more about the scientist.

There’s nothing wrong with that tact.  I just feel that everybody you talk to that has tried the putter has liked it or given some positive thoughts on the putter.  In fact, Hannan loved the putter himself.  The fact is that if Hannan had simply ordered the putter and disliked it, the story would have ended right there.  He would have just blown it off as another marketing gimmick.

As I mentioned in my YAR putter review, this is a putter where you’re going to have an arced putting stroke.  You can’t take it outside and cut across it.  In general, most instructors and scientists favor the arced putting stroke first and foremost.  And most of these people steadfastly advise against the ‘cutting across’ stroke.

Secondly, you cannot open the blade or close the blade with this putter.  Another aspect that would be considered advantageous.

The putter also has a great feel to it.  It feels nice as you stroke the putter.  It doesn’t feel too heavy nor too light.  And it feels really nice when you hit the ball with it.  I had numerous times where I would strike a putt well and think to myself ‘man, if I could do that 15-16 times a round I would be putting lights out.’

And it’s the only putter I have ever tried that I could consistently make good, solid contact while looking at the cup while I stroked the putter.  In fact, I can do this with little practice. 

The problems I had with the putter is that I could not make good consistent strokes.  I blame this on the flat lie angle design.  The other part is that I would hit through the break on a lot of the putts.  That’s hard for me to say because I think I have a good understanding on the physics of speed/touch with relation to putts falling in.  But, I would often see a putt that would break, say, 4-inches…and I would hit it at a good speed and it would only break 1-inch.  When I went back to the Edel putter I would see those putts break what I thought they would and end up in the back of the cup.

What I think gets lost in all of the hysteria of Krol’s sexuality, con games, mysterious background and tragic death is that he may have created a brilliant putter despite not having the credentials he claimed to have. 

From what I’ve read on the interne the putter gets dismissed because of Krol, but those people have never tried the putter.  And is there really a difference between the YAR putter and all of the claims of ’20 yards more distance!’ or ‘shave 6 strokes off your game’ or ‘1,700 rpm’s and 17-degree launch will optimize distance for everyone!’

I think there has been some motive to sully McCord’s credibility with this entire mess.  But, it’s not like he was plastering his face everywhere to endorse the putter and I do not believe he was ever paid by YAR golf.  Furthermore, he supposedly sent Krol to discuss this with Taylor Made Golf.  In essence, I think McCord truly believed in the YAR putter and that is why he endorsed it.  That sounds more credible than most of the Tour players and what they endorse out there, solely based on what company will pay them the most.

In the end, I would still recommend giving the YAR putter a try and see what you think about it.  And I still think that major OEM’s should look at the design and figure out what separated it from their putters and what they can use to make a better putter.





3JACK

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