In the last six weeks Henrik Stenson has undergone that mysterious transformation that occurs now and then in pro golf when a player ascends from very competent to nearly magical.
With the Piretti Cottonwood II putter, Stenson feels now that no matter where he hits it on the green he has a chance. And it shows in the stats. At East Lake in the Tour Championship, he was first in greens in regulation, second in putts per green in regulation and third in strokes-gained in putting.
The Piretti Cottonwood II appears to be another Ping Anser-like blade. It has a milled face with copper plugs to in heel and toe to stabilize the face on off-center hits, a standard design feature these days. What makes designer this design by Mike Johnson different is that he gives the faces only 2.5 degrees of face loft. Most putters have 3 degrees and some have 4.
Lower loft reduces the amount of skid a putter putts on the ball. In this domain, “skid” means the short but important distance immediately after impact in which the face lifts the ball up to ride on top of the grass.
From the Piretti website: “Mike also designed these heads with 2.5 degrees of loft. Putting greens are getting better and faster because golf course superintendents are cutting the putting green grasses shorter than ever before because their putting green mowers now allow them to do so. Because of that there is not as a great a depression that the golf ball sits in on the putting green which means we can now use less loft on the putter to get the ball rolling faster.”
Piretti obviously works for Stenson and the nearly pure greens of the PGA Tour. But 2.5 degrees of loft does not work well on somewhat shaggy, somewhat lumpy greens, which is what most public-course players experience. On these putting surfaces, lower loft drives the ball down into the uneven terrain, knocking the ball off line.
Stenson has found a tool that matches his working conditions. But it’s not a tool that works for everyone in every situation. And in case you need more convincing, note the list price for the Cottonwood II: $975.
Further proof PGA Tour pros have it a little better than most of us.