Hey You Gotta Adjust

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The ability to adjust ' the very quality that leads to success in golf; indeed, to happiness in life ' is neatly boxed in by regulation, at least as far as equipment is concerned.
 
But never fear. Lets go to The Law.
 
b. Adjustability
Woods and irons must not be designed to be adjustable except for weight. Putters may be designed to be adjustable for weight and some other forms of adjustability are also permitted. All methods of adjustment permitted by the Rules require that:
(i) the adjustment cannot be readily made;
(ii) all adjustable parts are firmly fixed and there is no
reasonable likelihood of them working loose during a round; and
(iii) all configurations of adjustment conform with the Rules.
(The Rules of Golf, 2004-2005 ed., Appendix II(b), page 114. Far Hills, N.J., U.S. Golf Association)
 
Callaway Itrax PutterOne close reading, and you can see how TaylorMade-adidas Golf carefully worked its revolutionary r7 Quad into the statutory niche left by the Rules. Its adjustable only for weight (notwithstanding that TMaG claims the weight affects ball flight in certain ways), its not easy to make the adjustment right on the course, the parts are designed to hold firm, and any way you screw it in, the r7 conforms.
 
Still, that didnt stop Steve Flesch from joking on TGC last year that he would check his ball flight on No. 1 and get the toolbox out on the second tee. Of course, he never would, no more than any other real golfer (that is, one who respects the Rules of Golf) would. But Fleschs good-natured comments touched on our fascination with adjustable clubs, with the idea of taking the toolbox to a rigid club to bend it to the fluid demands of a rigid game.
 
The tool of choice lately seems to be the Allen wrench. That L-shaped bit of hexagonal rod can be used to change many kinds of new putters, all of which stay clear of rules problems. And if it increases the fun in the game, why not?
 
Check out Callaways new I-Trax, which features vision strips that can be changed out by working four little screws. Here, the weight profile of the putter doesnt really change much, but what you see does, which is Callaways acknowledgement that optics and aiming are as important as swingweight.
 
B3 Heavy PutterThe Heavy Putter, which operates on the theory that extra heft negates the twitchy action of the little muscles of the hands and makes your more reliable shoulders and chest perform the stroke, weighs 885 grams, compared to the average 490 grams for most putters (454 grams equal a pound). Part of that total weight is a 250-gram fixed insert in the butt of the shaft. The Heavy also comes with aluminum and copper-tungsten head weights of between 20 grams and 70 grams (28 grams is an ounce) that can be used to fine-tune the perimeter weighting and correct chronic misses.
 
SeeMores Money (word is the tour pros love the name) lets you screw in new back weights through the sole plate, noticeably changing the feel of the club. And theres more: SeeMores under-grip weight, which resembles a shotgun shell, can be removed with a bigger Allen wrench. Mess with both, and its like having eight or so different putters ' and that requires some care, because if you overdo it, you can unscrew your way to screwing up your stroke.
 
The solution? With any adjustable putter, move slowly, incrementally, until you find a weight that makes your stroke and ball path make sense. Its more like tuning a guitar or riching up the fuel mixture in your classic Chevy than moving furniture or tossing sacks of flour. A couple of grams either way can make a lot of difference over the entire journey of ball to hole.
 
If you need more convincing than that, look at the semicircular weight bar on the back of Scotty Camerons new Futura Phantom putter (which, by the way, has screws, but they're not meant to be user-removed). It says 35 on the back if its the right weight for a 35-inch overall putter length. If it said 34, it would be all wrong for that user of a longer putter. Inches, grams, millimeters.it all adds up to more putts made ' or missed.
 
Of course, the new crop of adjustable putters (and this is only the beginning, believe me) is hardly the first generation of changeable clubs, or even putters. But every incarnation gets better as technology improves. Bringing a bit of subjective design to something as personal as putting makes sense. Just take the medicine in small doses, and experiment patiently ' and adjust yourself into a better game.
 
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