Popping up in various tours and tournaments around the world, are golfers who are winning with a brand of putter that is rapidly gaining in popularity. GEL Putters, a brand of Groove Equipment Ltd., employ what they have coined 'Groove Technology' to shave strokes where most golfers tend to accumulate them - on the green. Groove technology, simply put, is the incorporation of horizontal ridges into the face of the putter to assure a forward spin, as opposed to the backspin, skidding, and hopping that sometimes occurs after impact with flat face putters.
We here at GolfGearReview.com, recently received two brand new GEL putters for review, the GEL Paul Hurrion Signature Rego series putter and the GEL Emerald putter. For anyone that hasn't heard of Dr. Paul Hurrion, he is a sports biomechanist and putting coach who has worked with the likes of Padraig Harrington and David Howell. When asked in a recent press release about his involvement with the design of this putter, Paul stated "Working with GEL Golf, I have designed the Paul Hurrion Signature Range of putters to help golfers enjoy the key benefits tour players look for on the greens. That is, a putter designed with horizontal grooves to impart forward roll, peripheral-weighting that maximizes the sweet spot across the putter face and heel-toe weighting to increase the MOI for improved resistance to twisting on off-centre hits" In fact, GEL incorporates the flat, angled grooves in all putters in their line, and has extensively tested and proved that the topspin occurs immediately after impact, which of course will help you to assure your put is holding its line. Furthermore GEL points out that with this new consistency in roll, you will most likely also see an improvement in distance control. This unique approach to design helps GEL stand out as a truly innovative manufacturer, and helps to explain the rapid gain in popularity of their putter line.
Let's focus now on specifications with regard to the putters themselves. The Paul Hurrion Signature Rego model we received has a 35 inch shaft with a soft Winn AVS custom blue grip and blue metallic insert with the horizontal ridges. If the putter played as good as it looked, this was going to be a fun day at the local indoor range. The Rego is weighted at 380g and has a standard loft of 3, lie of 3, and a black nickel finish. The MSRP on the GEL Paul Hurrion Signature Rego model is $299. The Emerald, sporting a 34 inch shaft, has a back weighted head that, at 400g, GEL manufactured to be a little heavier than normal. This putter is made from 431 steel and is face balanced. The MSRP for the Emerald is $165.
Testing a putter means putting it through its paces in just about every on green scenario you can think of. This would include short and long putts, playing breaks and undulations, and short shots from around the fringe where many golfers prefer a putter to a wedge for control. To accurately assess this club in a non-scientific, easy to understand way, we want to evaluate three primary criteria against these scenarios - whether the groove technology does its job by limiting backspin and hopping, whether the perimeter and heel to toe weighting is conducive to keeping putts on the intended line, and whether the alignment aids are truly helpful in lining up and starting the ball on the right path towards the hole. In the test bag with the two GEL putters was also a Don Fisher Custom, and a Ping Karsten Series Zing putter brought along for comparison's sake.
Fortunately test day was unusually light at the local indoor range because of some unexpected nice weather for February. I brought a dozen Titleist Pro V1s to work with and lined up 3 balls for each putter for each scenario. Before taking the first shots, though, I handled each putter, including the comparison models to make some initial observations. The Ping was the lightest of the group, while the GEL Emerald felt the heaviest. The GEL Rego and the Don Fisher Custom felt about the same, and were both very evenly weighted based on feel. The grips on the GEL Rego and Emerald stood out with the very cushy yet comfortable feel of the Winn AVS. The first few practice swings were taken and initial observations were that the extra back weighting added to the Emerald gave it a pronounced pendulum feel, but noticeably shifted to the rear. The Ping also had a pendulum feel, but coming more so from the front of the blade. This makes a lot of sense from a design perspective because too much forward weight can make a ball pop off the face, where introducing properly implemented rear weighting will facilitate a follow through momentum. The GEL Rego, similar to the custom putter, had a very smooth, even feel about it, with no noticeable indications of off-balance perimeter weighting. This is very impressive for a manufactured putter.
For performance evaluation, we lined up some different approaches to test the putters with. Focusing on a comparison of the GEL models, we set shots up at various distances and with a few different lies. While the GEL Rego and the Emerald have distinctly different feels, it was clear after several dozen shots that the horizontal grooves were indeed creating more topspin, especially the Rego which seemed to have a slightly larger and more favorable sweet spot for off center shots. Keeping the line clearly is easier with putters that incorporate an increased MOI, and practice shots taken with these two putters was clear evidence of that. We were really pleased at how the combination of features all helped to deliver a more solid overall shot - smooth roll and on-target. With the increased topspin created by the horizontal grooves, the forgiveness created by the balanced perimeter weighting, and the alignment cues built in to each model, we were having a lot of fun nailing putts consistently at 5, 10, and even 15 feet on occasion during this exercise. Furthermore, on longer putts such as those over 20 feet, we noticed that our natural tendency to jump the ball off the face a little because of a perceived need for more swing in our stroke was reduced due to the confidence that the balanced weighting provided. With a smooth stroke through the ball, and with proper follow through to the target, the ball easily reached the hole without forcing it. Another important observation to mention about this session was how little twisting occurs on off-center hits with the GEL putters. Of course this golfer is prone to mistakes like everyone else, but there is a noticeable reduction in twisting because of the focus on weighting in these putters. This added forgiveness, combined with the other advanced elements of design, really helps add up to a marked improvement in our opinion.
As far as a comparison between the Rego and the Emerald? While both give the golfer the advantage of Groove Technology and comfortable Winn AVS grips, there are specific differences. As noted earlier, the Emerald is a little shorter and heavier and has the pronounced back-weighting. This putter might be better suited for beginning to intermediate golfers who need help with follow through, but still require the benefits of topspin and alignment assistance. At an MSRP of $165, this also falls into an affordable range for most in this group. If you're an accomplished player, however, and want to take advantage of all the bells and whistles, you'd probably want to spring for the Rego Paul Hurrion Signature model. At $299, this putter provides a 35 inch shaft, a slightly larger sweet spot, a noticeably more balanced perimeter weighting for increased MOI, and more visual goodies - this putter is just stunning to look at.
Overall, we were very pleased with these two putters. GEL is definitely on to something special with Groove Technology and it's no surprise that their putters are starting to show up in the bags of an increasing number of pros. Combining several high tech components and design elements to improve your overall putting stroke is a sort of holistic approach to improving equipment for the short game. In our opinion, the reduced skidding alone provided by these putters is worth the price. If you would like more information on GEL Putters, please visit their website here: www.gelgolf.com.
Review by Chris Bereznay Editor, GolfGearReview.com Golf Club, Equipment, and Course Reviews