At the beginning of 2016, the USGA's anchoring ban goes into effect. What challenges does this present to putter making and design?
Scotty Cameron: We've known about this for a couple years now and I have had ample time to react by designing putters that can perform in the spirit of an anchored putter, but conform to the rule. So the design challenge is: How do we offer products to golfers who've relied on that method, but can no longer actually anchor?
That's a fun challenge. For a player who gravitated to a belly or long putter for a variety of reasons (i.e., bad back, yips, comfort, results, etc.), he needs a remedy. A solution to make putting successful. For me, it was a fairly simple design challenge because putters are my life. I've experimented with counterbalancing—adding weight to the butt end of the shaft while also adding extra weight to the putter head—for years. Just to see and feel the results. By going a little longer and heavier, we're able to offer more stable putters with higher MOI that translate to better putting strokes and better performance for the player.
There's a whole world of help that this kind of putter setup offers to golfers. Bringing our line of Dual Balance putters to market has only strengthened our position because it really is the next logical step to making a putter that performs like a belly or long putter without having to be anchored.
What features are included in the Scotty Cameron Dual Balance putters to help improve the putting stroke?
Scotty Cameron: I've designed at least one Dual Balance model for each of our current putter lines—the Select, GOLO and Futura X—with each model sharing a few core features. (We have three options in the Futura X family.) They are all 3 inches longer than what is considered standard, they're heavier in headweight, close to face balanced, have a specially designed grip, a stronger shaft, and a 50-gram weight installed in the grip-side end of the shaft.
The added weight in the shaft is counterbalanced with the same amount of additional weight of the putter head. Each of these features is designed to improve the stability of the putting stroke by helping the player concentrate on a motion that uses the big muscles of the shoulders, rather than the small muscles (and nerves) of the hands and wrists. The feel is like anchoring, but without actually anchoring. And, for player reference, we designed our Dual Balance grips with visual cues—a line, color and pattern difference 3 inches from the butt end of the grip—so the player can choke down correctly, leaving a portion of the grip pointing toward the player’s mid-section. We have found through more than 20 years of high speed video research that the best putters in the world all have at least one thing in common—they all keep the butt end of the putter pointed at the same position of their midsection throughout their stroke
Additionally, since the weight at both ends of the putter is increased, we need to use a stronger shaft so it doesn’t get "whippy", but actually feels what I like to call slower or lethargic. This increase in overall putter weight slows down the stroke, helps the player to develop a repeatable motion, and helps to keep the hands and wrists largely out of the equation for a nice, shoulder-rotating putting stroke.
How important is that 38-inch length to the dual balance design?
Scotty Cameron: Regarding length, our standard putter lengths are generally 33, 34 and 35 inches. For each Dual Balance model, I've added 3 inches to those lengths. We've found in working with the world's best players on the professional golf tours, as well as at the Putter Studio, that a 38-inch setup is a good standard length for our Dual Balance putters. You can find our GOLO 5, Futura X, Futura X5, Futura X7M and Select Newport 2 in Dual Balance setups at our standard 38-inch length at Titleist golf shops and online retailers around the world. But, we also offer custom lengths anywhere from 36 to 40 inches in half-inch increments depending on player preference.
As opposed to a standard putter, this extra length in our Dual Balance models allows the player to choke down a bit and get comfortable with having a portion of the shaft above the hands. This really helps to keep the wrists from "hinging" during the stroke. The hands, arms and shoulders work as a single unit, while the length and weight of the putter promotes proper shoulder rotation. This helps on so many levels, from a player struggling to develop a repeatable putting stroke to combating the dreaded yips.
For golfers that currently use anchored putters, do you see them moving to counterbalanced designs when the ban is enacted or will they try standard putters?
Scotty Cameron: We're already seeing professional players who now anchor either transitioning to a Dual Balance model, using their current putters without anchoring, or going back to standard. Some, like Adam Scott, may still use a long putter, but develop an unanchored putting stroke. It's possible. But, obviously, we're talking about the game's elite players. They have otherworldly talent that the amateur golfer won't ever experience. For the rest of us, I think moving to a Dual Balance just makes sense. I love the fact that it takes the hands out of the stroke, feels very similar to an anchored setup, but conforms to the rule. No matter the player, I think owning a counterbalanced putter can help develop your own stable, repeatable putting stroke.
Finally, if someone is searching for a more stable putting stroke, tell us why he or she should try a Scotty Cameron Dual Balance putter.
Scotty Cameron: Most players using anchored putters today rely on them because the anchored putting stroke takes the hands out of the equation. They can stick the grip right into their belly or hold it against their chest—depending on the length—and develop a nice, stable shoulder rotation, back and forth. When done correctly, the hands merely hold on through the stroke. It’s been the way players have battled the yips for years. If you've had them, then you know when you're squeezing a small grip, using a standard length putter, all of your hand and wrist nerves can make putting a nightmare. The Dual Balance putters I've designed are set up to mimic the anchored feeling in a way. Sure, we're unanchored. But, with that additional weight in both ends of the putter, with your hands choked down acting as the fulcrum on a bigger, thicker grip, you can rotate the shoulders for a stable putting stroke that simply works. It's easy to talk about, but so much better when you experience it for yourself. Go try one, and you'll see!