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Cleveland Smart Square Counterbalanced putter review
19 Mar 2014
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As the rules of golf have changed to ban the use of anchored putters, the major putter manufacturers have scrambled to come up with a putter for those long-accustomed to belly or long putters.

The Cleveland Smart Square is among the putters those manufacturers are hoping golfers using long putters consider when ultimately making the switch.

Cleveland has put out quality putters for some time but has been overshadowed by the likes of Ping, Odyssey and Scotty Cameron. The introduction of the Smart Square, though, just might put Cleveland smack in the middle of the conversation when it comes to premium putters built on smart design with advanced technology.

More than just an alternative to anchored putters, the Smart Square takes a proven alignment aid and enhances it.

Cleveland’s marketing campaign for the Smart Square is simple: “squares are better than circles.” A quick look at the Smart Square and you’ll know exactly what they mean.

Cleveland has replaced circles seen in other top-selling putters with squares to produce a putter that's easy to align. According to Cleveland, golfers aimed the Smart Square 23 percent more accurately than “one of the most popular putters of all time.”

After just a few rolls with the Smart Square, I’m a believer.

The key to the Smart Square putter is its Dual Axis Alignment.

“Two parallel lines extend from the center of the face to frame the ball perfectly down the line, and two perpendicular lines offer instant feedback when the putter is miss-aligned at address,” according to Adam Sheldon, Brand Manager for Cleveland Golf. “The result is faster, more reliable alignment on every putt.”

The white alignment squares on top of the matte black putter head frames the ball perfectly and is so visually-appealing that it is nearly impossible not to be properly aligned. It is almost like cheating. You know how some golfers like to have their caddies stand behind them and align them-well? With the Smart Square you get that same result.

While the parallel lines are most useful for putting, I found that the perpendicular lines were the real key for proper for alignment. Feedback was instant. Open or closed at address and you immediately see it.

The Smart Square provides more than just great alignment; it actually doubles as a teaching aid. Just take the putter back parallel to the outside and inside square lines and you automatically create the perfect putting stroke. That is the reason Dave Pelz fell in love with this putter.

While catching up with him recently, he commented that all you have to do is pretend that the two parallel lines are train tracks and take the putter back on those tracks.

While the Smart Square is known for its alignment technology, it also produces a nice soft feel, just the right sound and true consistent rolls from putts of all distances.

The insert is not too firm, not too soft, but just the right feel that ingrains confidence over the ball.

In addition to the copolymer insert, the Smart Square putter is designed with a high MOI in a compact mallet style look. This advanced head design maximizes MOI for minimal distance loss on off-center hits.

While the Smart Square will never be mistaken for a blade putter, the compact size is a fraction of some other full size mallets on the market today. It combines the design benefits of a mallet with the look and feel of a more compact head.

The Cleveland designers did a fabulous job when creating the finishing touches. The insert is the same matte black finish as the rest of the putter, creating a constant visual when standing over the ball. An extra benefit of the sleek matte finish is that one does not have to worry about any reflective glare coming off the putter, even on the sunniest of days. This is an issue for other putters, particularly large mallet style putters. Except for the strategic white squares, the putter is void of any distracting visuals.

The theory behind counterbalanced putters is to place a heavier mass on both the grip andhead of the putter. This weighting technique enhances the clubs MOI, creating a more stable putting stroke. In a nut shell, these types of putters, and the Smart Square counterbalanced putter, mimics anchored putters in terms of stability and feel.

The stock Smart Square comes with a 400-gram head (40 grams heavier than standard) and an oversize 158 gram Winn Pro-Pistol grip (2.5 times heavier than standard). It is 39 inches long. This extra length, while not quite a belly putter, helps create the counterbalanced effect. This design, combined with the Smart Square insert, leads to greater feel and touch and consistently better speed and path.

How is that? The putter helps take the hand and wrists out of the stroke. The counterbalanced weight moves the balance point closer to one's hands, creating a putter with less torque and more stability, similar to an anchor point but without the need to anchor. This translates to less twitching and a smoother stroke.

On a side note, the Smart Square putters also comes in traditional lengths of 33 to 35 inches in both heel and centered shafted models. While not counterbalanced, the traditional length Smart Square putter comes with the desired square alignment aides and a nice, firm, yet tacky Winn grip.

Cleveland did not invent counterbalanced clubs. They have been around for awhile as Jack Nicklaus even fooled around with counterbalanced weights in his irons. What Cleveland did, however, with the Smart Square counterbalanced putter is to take this technology and improve it.

If you are looking to replace your anchored putter or just want to improve your stroke, theSmart Square line of putters is a must try.

The Smart Square counterbalanced putter retails for $179, standard putter is $139.

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