I think have played with literally every conceivable putter style: blade, Anser, half-mallet, mallet, plumber’s neck, single-bend, double-bend, straight, center-shafted, heel-shafted, face-balanced, toe-hang of all degrees, 33” to broomstick, belly-anchored, sternum-anchored, side-saddle-armpit-anchored, steel face, aluminum face, inserts from honeycombed nickel to polymer. Heck, I’ve even played with a putter whose shaft was wrapped with a shellacked bull penis.
And the thing is, I’ve made putts with all of them, whether they cost $30 or $600.
I guess I have been sort of a putting playboy. Not to brag…but, you know, maybe a little.
Now, in my dotage, I have settled on a preferred putting style, and a preferred putter style. My most effective stroke is straight-back and straight-through. I have gone through periods with an open-to-closed ‘gate’ stroke, but for me, maintaining that stroke requires too much practice.
Last season, I had the best putting year of my life. I ran in a lot of clutch putts, even winning my course’s Match Play Tournament. I thought I had found my forever-putter.
Then the Cleveland Golf Frontline ISO Single-Bend Putter ($200) arrived on my porch, and it was like the cloying meet-cute in a romcom:
“It’s you. It’s always been you.”
I’ll save you the montage of the Frontline ISO and me on the beach, baking bread, eating ice cream, getting caught in a downpour and ducking into a doorway for a sweet, soggy kiss. Let’s just get to the naughty details, shall we?
Playing the Cleveland Frontline ISO Single-Bend Putter
The entire Frontline line is predicated on a design philosophy that is not new, but it is new again. The focus is on moving the weighting of the putterhead into the face. Most recent putter designs feature weighting low and deep in the head, purportedly to increase MOI. Cleveland’s rationale for putting the weighting forward—which has been found in several putter models over the decades—is to promote a faster, cleaner, more consistent forward roll at impact.
What I noticed immediately, just testing the ISO on my living room carpet before the weather warmed, was that the ball pops off the face: it’s a soft and supple bounce, though, not unnatural or uncontrollable.
Like all 13 of the Frontline models, the ISO comes in 33”-35” lengths, RH (only 1 model comes in LH, oddly), 3-degrees loft, and 70-degrees lie. The features of the ISO that promote a straight-back-straight-through stroke are face-balance, the single-bend neck, and a stock oversized grip.
Combine these specs with the square mallet head, and everything about the ISO conspires to line you up online, deliver a consistent strike, start the ball online, and watch it drop.
It was sort of awkward taking the ISO out to play and leaving my trusty flatstick from last season at home. At first.
Then, yesterday, the ISO and I went out and holed 11 one-putts, with 5 of the 7 two-putts lipping out or burning the edge.
I’m not sure if I said “I love you” first, or if the ISO did. Maybe we said it at the same time. Either way, as the credits roll, so do the putts – happily ever after, indeed.