Equipment & Product Reviews

Dedicated to latest in golf equipment: clubs, golf balls, training aids & apparel

Cleveland Smart/Square Putter PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno


A few weeks back the folks at Cleveland Golf sent us their latest innovation

in putters, the new Smart/Square series. Everytime we get a new toy to test

out and review, there's a rush just taking it out of the box . . . no exception

this time around.


The Smart/Square is the product of visual studies that found squares easier to

align to a target than circles. We all know in golf that comparison refers to the

long lived Odyssey two-ball putter.



I must confess, I prefer my rock to roll from a classic Anser style blade, and

this is anything but that. The Smart/Square is unconventional and slightly

odd at first glance, but once you place the black mallet behind the ball, the

white alignment squares seem almost 3D like . . . the intended line looks so

easy to set up to. It's almost uncanny how well the squares show the correct

putterface alignment (who knew?). The co-polymer insert gives the ball a

buttery feel and muted sound at impact like most other flatsticks that have

an insert. Two things I realized about the Smart/Square right off the bat:


1) The black on white color scheme is a great asset to any putter (no sun

glare and the contrast makes the alignment aids pop - (no wonder TaylorMade

& Odyssey's 2013 offerings employ this color scheme)


2) The ball comes off the putterface and insert with a pure end over end roll.

(so it's not just superior alignment to brag about, the performance is spot on)



Smart/Square Winn grip



Here are some thoughts from Master Club builder & LinksNation Tester Dirck


I recently had the opportunity to try out Cleveland's new Smart/Square

Putter while playing 9 holes with Jason. Just after the first hole is finished

Jason pulls out a box from the back of the cart. (He had already clued me

in on the new S/S flatstick arrival). I jumped at the chance "Hey, I'll test

that out" I proclaimed . . . so I decided to take first dibs. It was obvious

that my skins partner (Ken) wanted that honor, sorry brother.


I had just piped a 200 yd 4 iron to 15 feet on the par 3 and had a down

hill slider on my first putt. Yep, no warm up, maybe two practice strokes

. . . bam, right in the middle of the cup. Boy, that got everyone's attention,

including mine, and my partner didn't mind the team skin either.

As I continued using the putter I started to notice some of the similarities

from previous putters I have used, the heel shafted double bend shaft leans

back from the face slightly at address, very similar to the Rossie or Two Ball.

The mallet design is similar to other face balanced designs I have tried and

liked. The sound is muted, really just the sound coming from the ball at impact

is noticed. Feel is firm, no noodle here. Balance is better than good, the

putterhead wants to track down the line well. The Ball comes off the putter

face tracking quickly, no bouncing.

The only thing left to talk about is the squares on the top of the head. This is

really something you will have to see for yourself, it's so intuitive I don't think

you can really sense or believe how easy it is to line up until you actually see

it behind the ball. I can tell you it was impossible for me to have the putter

head misaligned to the ball/line at address and definitely the reason that 15

footer went in on the first try. I give the Smart Square putter a thumbs up.

Ditto that thought Dirck, the Cleveland Smart/Square is unique, innovative and is

sure to help you make more putts (especially in the short to intermediate range).


Design features:

-Dual Axis Alignment: parallel lines down the center of putterhead frame the

ball perfectly down the line, two perpendicular lines offer instant feedback

when putter is misaligned.

-Copolymer face insert enhances feel and sound at impact and promotes more

consistent roll for better distance control.

-Head design maximizes MOI for minimal distance loss on off center hits.

The Square ball marker is very cool.

Smart Square comes in 33"- 35" in heel shaft, center shaft or 39" almost belly*

*(equipped with 40 gram heavier than standard - 400 gram head and 158 gram

grip for counterbalance & stability without anchoring)

Cleveland Smart/Square retails for $139

For more info:





TaylorMade SLDR TP Driver PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno


When I arrived back at the office from a course review in Texas a few weeks ago, there was a box

from TaylorMade awaiting my return. I had seen and heard about the new SLDR, but had yet to check

it out for myself and was anxious to see what all of the chatter on Tour was about. I wasn't disappointed

upon first sight . . . the appearance of the SLDR driver is glossy uncluttered eye candy. I couldn't wait to

test it out. The folks at TMAG sent me the "Alpha" version - the TP model in 10.5 loft with the 67 gram

Fujikura Motore Speeder shaft (Tour Spec 6.3), PERFECT! So no need for me to pop in one of my premium

aftermarket shafts to get an accurate assessment of this beast.





This was an odd time for TMAG to release a new big stick, the golf season up north is winding down,

the PGA Tour season is over (and after all, the R1 wasn't exactly long in the tooth - only 7 months old).

The SLDR is certainly a different animal from the past few drivers from TaylorMade. First off, the SLDR

does not have a white crown (it's actually charcoal gray with a gloss finish), or loud graphics like the R1.

The chrome button-back on the rear of the crown aides with alignment and is a nice accent. SLDR's new

weight system has changed from the original round cartridges - to one-20 gram flat sliding weight along

a slot on the sole. Gone (for the time being) is the adjustable face angle dial that was so popular on the

R1. The SLDR comes in 8, 9.5, 10.5 & 12 degrees, but can be adjusted via the shaft sleeve (at 1.5 degree





Although the SLDR is not nearly as adjustable as the race stripe crowned R1, it does boast a few

aces in it's deck. First off, when you set it down at address, it looks clean - nothing distracting.

The ease of moving the 20 gram weight from draw to fade via the set screw is literally 10 seconds.

Also the sound and feel of this driver is perhaps the best TMAG has produced since the R7 Superquad

(a club that players like Retief Goosen and Tom Lehman refused to part with, till just recently).


Ok, it looks great and has great sound & feel, but how does it perform. The first thing I noticed

was how easy it is to work the ball in either direction. My first few swings were in the evening

after work with no initial warm up - boom! Slight draws right in the center of the fairway, after

playing around with the set up during my next full range session and the next few rounds, I settled

on the stock neutral settings. I prefer a slight right to left ball flight and the neutral set up seems

to be slighty draw bias. When moving the weight over to the fade setting my draws became dead

straight with a hint of a push (my usual miss). The feel at impact is springy not harsh, downright

trampoline like - the ball jumps off the face and with a non-jarring sound. After the first half dozen

drives, I knew my present gamer had no chance of staying in my bag.


After the first full testing session, I noticed the SLDR TP felt a touch heavy, so we tested the specs.

When I put the SLDR on the swing weight scale, it sure enough measured out at D5.3, just a bit over

the listed D4. Once I installed my usual Lamkin 3Gen midsize grip (slightly heavier then the stock TM

grip), the SLDR was perfectly swing weighted at D4.


I immediately started gaming the stick and even put it in play in my Mid Am Qualifier just 10 days

after taking it out of the box. Rather than the usual launch monitor session with a new driver, I

wanted to play the club and not judge it based solely on launch angles, spin rates and distance

#'s. I noticed when I set up to hit it high, it carried LONG . . . when I played a controlled

medium/lower shot it was the typical distance of the drivers we previously tested. The two longest

drivers we have tested in 2013 are the Cobra Amp Cell (with an upgraded Matrix Red Tie shaft) and

the SLDR TP. At one point in my Qualifier last week, I faced a dogleg right par 4 - you either play

safe left into the fairway (and have a much longer approach) or take on the fairway bunker

guarding the right corner (a 250 yard carry). Although it was a stroke play competition, I wanted

to know if I had the cajones to go for it under the gun, and whether the SLDR TP had the horsepower

to justify this leap of faith. I set up right at the bunker and launched my best, it was a long five

seconds while that ball was in flight - then I saw the ball clear the sand by 10 yards and bound

forward into the center of the fairway! Just a wedge in, on a hole I had often hit 6 and 7 iron . . .

the SLDR had instantly gained my respect (and my playing partners as well). Once I did hit the monitor,

the #'s validated the results I saw on the course:


Swing Speed -105 mph

Ball Speed - 156 mph


Spin Rate-2450 rpm

Carry-257 yds

In Summary:

The SLDR TP is a players club, the Fujikura Speeder 67 shaft demands a moderately fast swing speed

(minimum 100 -105 mph) . . . but the regular stock version is 57 grams and produces a higher ball flight

for the masses (swing speeds below 100mph). TMAG is touting more loft as the way to go, and from a

guy who played 9 degree drivers the past 20 years, I'm now playing a 10.5 and I couldn't agree more.

Surely there is an SLDR for everyone, get fit before plucking down the bucks. The club I rarely change

is my putter, the only club I often change is the driver . . . it might be awhile before this bad boy gets


SLDR features

  • Longest TaylorMade driver ever
  • Low-and-forward CG promotes high launch, fast speed and low spin for huge distance
  • Easy and intuitive SLDR movable weight promotes up to 30 yards of shot shape adjustment
  • Increase or reduce the loft 1.5° with 12-position loft-sleeve
  • Silver button-back works with subtle crown markings for easy clubface alignment
  • Fujikura Motore Speeder TS 6.3 shaft blends light weight with great feel and playability
  • Stunning modern-classic shape with charcoal-gray crown


For more info visit:









Star Putter Traing Tool PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno



The Star Putter - putting tool is perhaps the simplest and most portable of any

putting aide on the market. The brain child of PGA Professional Rita (Mehrens)

Shuenemann, the beauty of the Star Putter training tool is the instant feedback

you'll get when aligning the putterface on the Star.






The Star isn't just for short putts, it also works great on breaking putts like this right

to left medium length putt. Just align the Star and your golf ball to the intended line,

you'll instantly get a sense of proper clubface alignment.





A great drill to use with the Star Putter putting tool - after impact stay down

and focus on the Star and LISTEN to the ball go in the hole. The beauty of this

drill is you'll learn to focus on the process instead of the result, and in turn, anxiety

is taken out the equation. What you'll also find is your putts will rarely be miss hit

because of how quiet the body stays throughout the stroke.




Notice my head and body position position in each frame - identical.

Even as the ball drops, my eyes are still focusing on the Star, nobody did this

better than Payne Stewart at the 1999 U.S Open at Pinehurst.




Endorsed by many of top instructors in the game, The Star Putter comes in six colors, and includes

a carry bag and ball markers.


To get more info on the Star Putter training tool:









Puma Faas Lite Golf Shoes PDF Print E-mail


Review By Jason Bruno


Puma Golf recently introduced their new line of lightweight spikeless golf shoes - Faas Lite

& Faas Lite mesh. For this review we tested the Faas Lite, a super lightweight performance

shoe constructed with a microfiber leather upper that features *stormCELL technology that

includes a 1 year waterproof warranty.

The Faas line is so light (actually 8.7 oz), that I handed them to anybody in the office or on

the course when they noticed and asked about the shoes (and everybody did). The first thing

that catches your attention is how sporty they look, but the what impressed me the most about

these new golf kicks (other than the feather like weight), was the comfort. The sole is Puma's

proprietary blend of foam and rubber called "Faas Foam", combining cushioning and traction.

Okay so the Puma Faas is light, comfortable and sporty . . . but will it really hold up while swinging

the big stick at over 100+ mph? I bolted for the range to see if these badboys would hold up under

the pressure of extensive range duty and out on the links.

They not only held up under the duress of my violent swings, but I found that when I left the course,

I didn't wanna take them off. The super lightweight of the Puma Faas kept my dawgs from being

seriously fatigued even after walking 18 holes in the hot Florida sun. So the question is not whether

the Faas Lite are among the supreme walking Links Golf shoes, it's whether you'll wear them everywhere

and turn them into your everyday casual shoes as I have. A good idea would be to have all three color

choices and rotate them. Faas lite are available in white/orange trim, white/blue & black trim, and black

with gray trim as pictured above.

Puma Faas Lite retails for $100

Lightweight microfiber leather upper Features:

  • stormCELL designation with waterproofing guaranteed for 1 year
  • Lace closure for a snug fit; packaged with two lace color options
  • Breathable EcoOrthoLite® sockliner for optimum fit and comfort
  • Lightweight FaasFoam+ midsole for improved resilience and increased step-in comfort
  • SmartQuill traction technology enhances ground contact for improved stability and traction
  • EverTrack carbon rubber in forefoot and heel for lasting durability
  • Corrugated flex grooves for flexibility and improved ground contact
  • PUMA Formstrip at medial and lateral sides
  • PUMA Cat Logo at forefoot and tongue, with PUMA Cat Logo and PUMA callout at heel
  • Heel to toe drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.7 ounces


For more info on the Puma Faas Lite:,en_US,sc.html











TaylorMade Lethal, New Srixon Z-Star & Z-StarXV PDF Print E-mail

Written by Jason Bruno




TaylorMade released their latest premium tour caliber golf ball this spring - Lethal,

which is basically an upgraded version of the Penta TP5 with an entirely new

cover/dimple pattern. Gone is the Penta line, but no worries the Lethal ball still has

the tour proven 5 layer technology.


Lethal is equipped with (LDP - low drag performance) a seamless cover that features

a new larger 322 dimple pattern (for more surface coverage on the cover) that

produces the most wind penetrating performance ball TaylorMade has ever made.

Taylormade found that many of the balls out there tend to spin and balloon with

todays high launch equipment. The new Lethal and its flatter ball flight is longer off

the tee and still offers the same soft feel and performance around the greens . . . a

solid upgrade from the Penta line, especially in areas where windy conditions are the




A small often unnoticed detail is the new Lethal side logo, definitely an improvement

(over the PentaTP5) as a putting alignment aide.


The Lethal can be customized with any personal number of choice.


To learn more about Lethal visit:







Srixon has two new offerings on the horizon for August 2013. The staple of their premium

line the Z Star and it's lower spinning brethren the Z Star-XV. The new Z-Star is a three

piece construction ball with it's new spin skin technology, which according to Srixon

engineers - is a coating on their urethane cover that allows for greater friction between ball

& clubface that is designed to improve greenside spin. The coating allows the cover to become

more flexible, therefore penetrating more into the grooves of the clubface.


Z-Star's new larger 344 dimple pattern feature stabilizes ball flight in windy conditions.

Z-Star features a large single large diameter core, the Z-Star XV which is designed for higher swing

speeds (105+) features a dual core.




The Z-Star is played by Miguel Angel Jimenez and the hottest player on earth, World #1 Inbee Park,

while the Z-Star XV is played by 3 time winner around the world (in 2013), Graeme McDowell.


Both the Z-Star and XV come in "Pure white" and "Tour Yellow", both Srixon models retail for $45


For more info on the Z-Star & Z-Star XV:









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