Tuesday, June 27, 2017

First Impression: Directed force ...OR... "Is there actually any innovation left in golf?"

I've posted before about new technology. Ins and outs, innovations and old hack ideas. I lie awake at night - after coming in from the shop - and think about golf. Late night and early morning TV are filled with infomercials... Hundreds of them. Everything from training aids, to the next big "technology" in clubs. Guys yelling BOOM and POW and hitting the ball 400 yards, promises of clubs "so easy to hit it's like cheating".

It hurts me to watch these things. They prey on golfers and their desire to play better golf by making promises that sound legit but are in fact nothing but snake oil meant to separate golfers from money they could use as greens fees or lessons - further diluting the equipment business and depressing the golf market more.  Even leaving the television for the Internet I find little but "reviews" of how great things are. This and that - more distance - everything that's great about the products and no reasons why other than "it helps your game'.  There is absolutely no shortage of miracle clubs with any combination of letters and numbers that boast "innovative" technology and while some of them may deliver a few gains - they're not for the majority of golfers. How much of that really CAN BE real? How much is bunk?

So a number of months ago, I came across "Directed Force Putters".   A small company with a big idea - make a better putter.  Simple. No infomercials yet, nothing blowing up my email and Facebook, just saw one out at a tournament and heard loads of people saying they love their DFP.  What the hell, man?

A gentleman by the name of Bill Presse heading up the team, and coming out of the USA, Directed Force pushes it's business based on "lie angle balancing".   Whatever dude, just another kitsch phrase... or is it? I was duly skeptical. Nevertheless, I decided to do some digging. I searched and searched online for a used putter that I could at least test and didn't find one. Are they really that good that nobody wants to get rid of one?  Everyone that I found that owned one of these franken-putters just did not want to part with it. Literally every single one I contacted. Want to sell it? "NO". ...Please?  "Get off my lawn, dude!"..... You had my interest, now you have my attention. This is something I want to get into - a club people want to play until it wears out....

Flash forward, I FINALLY got my hands on one. One of these guys walks into the shop and wants some changes to his.  Knowing there's some weird arcane magic stuff going on here, I contact DF to make sure we don't ruin his flatstick. After researching and talking the man himself, Mr. Presse, we're going to get it done, but first - "let me test it huh?" Score! I took a few putts on my carpet downstairs and immediately know this club is different from anything else I've used before.

Background:  I've used and/or tested just about every putter out there. Especially recently with some new-found putting woes. My list includes but is not limited to: (BREATH) Cure, Brainstorm, Scotty, All the Major brands, wooden putters, long putters, belly putters, extra short putters, long putters, heavy putters, ultra light putters and even mini-golf putters. Face on, face balanced, toe hang, toe up, high moi, center shafted, plumbers neck, single and double bend - every.....fucking.... putter. I can honestly say that NOTHING that has come before it is anything like what the Directed Force putter is. DEFINITELY nothing looks like it - which is what i found to be the biggest hurdle...albeit a pretty low one.

Looking down, I couldn't even totally describe it without a picture. A branding iron maybe? Metal detector? (Find me a fortune!!) Large hitting face, ample reflective sight lines with a center mounted/center BODY shaft, and a large trailing weighted head.  The shaft sets in at an angle, and the grip is drilled such that it mounts vertically on the shaft. Essentially it's something between the recent Backstryke putters and the high moi Spiders you see now yet still TOTALLY different.  It's just the strangest gosh darn thing.....and I really started to fall in love with it.

For all it's quirks and idiosyncrasies, it sets up PERFECT. I mean, spot on balls perfect. I know exactly where that ball is going when i put the head down. This is great because it's like my older Ghost Spider in that respect: Very easy to line up and once you have the line, that part of the equation is out of the picture. It's all speed and roll after that.

 The grip fits very well in my hands - and rumor has it they have a larger version - but i don't have that one to test. It's not really needed though at this point- the "Press grip" is just the right size.  The shaft lean is unobtrusive to the eye, and the sight line just makes a great shape in relation to the trailing ball-catch. One thing I'm a little put off by is the shiny nature of the aim T. Shiny. Real shiny. It seems to just glow at address which is nice, but man when the sun hits that thing directly, look out! Good news is that I spoke to the creator and this issue is solved - They're now laser etched on all the new putters  - but you can still get the milled version if you're a paint fill kinda person.

The swing. The swing is effortless. The technology they're touting actually seems to be on display.  I know that with my Spider, and pretty much most putters it's very easy to leave the face open on a putt or put a little too much oomph into releasing the putter and close it.  Even if you're stroking it perfectly by the shoulders, the putter fights you a little. The stroke has to be perfect, and there's weight that needs to be compensated for in the head. You can feel it, no matter the putter. That being said...there is zero effort needed when making a stroke with this putter. It seems to know what to do and when to do it. Literally take a neutral grip and rock your shoulders and the ball starts on line every.....single....time. One handed, either hand, as long as the club started soled flat on the lie angle, the ball started right on the intended line.  I nearly soiled my pants to be honest. Now..... does that mean you can't miss? No, not in the slightest. It's not a gyroscope. You can almost feel it fighting you though in the back swing and through swing trying to stay on line and not have your nasty meathooks ruin your chance at birdie. The club WANTS to be square to your stroke. It's like a physical being. After about 10 "getting used to it" putts, there was no part of me that felt i had to do anything to get the putt rolling... and roll it did. It was a mental block to come to terms that i had to do NOTHING to make this putter work other than set up and rock my shoulders.

Roll and feel.  The strike is hard to qualify.  It's solid but soft.  If you're a fan of urethane inserts, you're going to have a period of time to become familiar with the new non-insert feel. In addition, it takes cues from the type of ball you're using. If it's a harder cover ball - the sound is going to be more of a pronounced and harder feel. If it's a softer players ball, you'll have a more muted feel and with either type you can really hear a light "tink" type of sound resonating through the head. It's actually rather pleasant any way you hit it, but coming off of soft insert putters, it does take a little getting used to - but no more than any other putter out there.  It's a confidence building sound in my ears.

Even if you put ear plugs in and wear oven mitts, there's no denying the roll. Pure, unadulterated Velcro on the green. No bounce. The ball just tumbles and tumbles and tumbles. Over marks, across hills, just tumbles. Full disclosure, I skidded a couple in the beginning because I used the same stroke i needed on my old putter to make it roll.   Newsflash.... This is as close to a "point and shoot" putter as we've got to date. The grooves on the face are apparently a roll machine.  Set up, rock shoulders, collect winnings. *drops mic*

Credit; "Back to the Future" - Universal Pictures 1985
If you haven't seen it..... what's the matter with you?
*picks mic back up*  So what does all this mean.. Well, to me, it means that there's at least a little bit of morality left in the golf equipment business other than yours truly. There's some real thought and real innovation in this putter and from first use - it's not a smoke and mirrors marketing speak type of campaign slapped on the same old thing. You're certainly not paying for a name, but I honestly think you're going to be hearing  a LOT more of the Directed Force name in the next year or so. With a silver metal on the Golf Digest Hot List already and momentum starting to build, for the first time since metal woods initially came on the scene - to quote Doc Brown - we're about to see some serious shit....Look out, big OEMs.

 There will be a  part 2.  This is not over. A putter's true self is not brought out until you get in the pressure of a real match. Since I have this for quite some time, I'll be using it in the match play this weekend and really giving it a test. Let's see how you handle it when the cheddar's on the line Mr. Force......

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