PING Golf has produced some highly successful putters over the past 54 years, so when the company's director of engineering, Brad Schweigert, stated the Scottsdale True Roll (TR) putter line is one of the "coolest innovations" to hit the putter market in a long, long time, you stand up and take notice.
There are a number of things that separate the Scottsdale TR putter from the rest of the pack -- shaft adjustability being a major game-changer -- but the most noticeable addition is a grooved, aluminum face insert.
According to Schweigert, PING engineers were working with grooves to improve launch and spin and happened upon variable depth grooves during testing.
"We started out working on grooves for the purpose to see if we could improve the roll of the ball and improve the launch and spin," Schweigert said. "What we found during that research was that grooves had a significant effect on ball velocity, and that we could manipulate that velocity by the depth of the grooves. We kind of put two and two together and said, 'Well, what if we come up with a variable depth grooves design to try and better mobilize the ball velocity across the entire face?'"
Through testing, PING found that grooves reduce the velocity of a ball coming off the clubface, and that the deeper they made the grooves on the putter, the more ball speed was lost. By varying the depth of the grooves across the face — with the deepest grooves in the center and getting gradually shallower toward the perimeter to equalize ball speed — they were able to improve distance control on center-hit and mis-hit putts off the heel or toe.
"I think it's one of the coolest innovations to hit the putter market in a long, long time -- maybe since Karsten first introduced heel-and-toe weighting," Schweigert said. "The other impressive thing about the Scottsdale TR is that it gives you the same kind of effect as a high moment of inertia (MOI) putter. What that means is you can still go with, say, a B60 putter and get the same kind of ball velocity on mis-hits without having to go to a higher MOI putter with a larger head."
To prove the variable depth grooves worked, PING engineers used a robot to test the consistency of the face and found that a mis-hit on the toe or heel rolled within a couple feet of a center-hit putt that rolled to 35 feet. The test proved that the varied grooves produced consistent ball velocity off the face no matter where the putt was struck.
"When we showed the demo to the players, a lot of them couldn't believe that it got through the USGA," Schweigert said. "They knew the technology was going to be a huge advantage, and many of them immediately wanted to get it in the bag. They could tell just after the first few putts with it that they were getting more consistent ball speed on mis-hits. They bought in right away."
When Hunter Mahan, who's currently using a Scottsdale TR ZB 5, checked out the putter for the first time, his caddie, John Wood, noted that the putter was so good that Mahan needed to get it in the bag for his next tournament.
Mahan isn't the only player on the PGA TOUR currently using a Scottsdale TR putter. Some of the other notable names include Lee Westwood -- who switched to a Scottsdale TR Anser 2B at the Shell Houston Open -- and Angel Cabrera (Scottsdale TR Shea H).
While all of the models in the Scottsdale TR line are available in 33, 34- and 35-inch models, Ping also offers them with an adjustable shaft that allows players to move the shaft anywhere from 31-38 inches in standard model.
"One of the things we found during out testing, and we had 100 players come through, is that most players self adjusted the putter to whatever length they felt comfortable," Schweigert said. "When you see pretty much everyone adjusting the putter to something other than standard, you know you're onto something. We ship almost every putter out of here at standard length, and what they showed us was that there's not a lot length fitting currently going on in the marketplace. And if it is, it's to a discrete length."
The Scottsdale TR comes in 12 models, giving golfers the ability to find a putter that not only suits their eye, but their stroke type -- strong arc, slight arc or straight -- as well.
The putter features a non-glare finish and ranges in price from $149-$180. The adjustable-shaft versions cost $20 more.