Putter Tested: Radius Classic 3
(Written By: GolfSpy T) It wasn't that long ago that I reviewed the Nike Method Concept putter. At the time I might have suggested that the rest of the MyGolfSpy staff is comprised of a bunch of soulless lemmings that can't see a ball's width past their traditionally styled, highly polished, CNC milled putters. Remember, I'm the smart one...the one who has the good sense to think about function over form. I'm the one who will actually seek out something with a bit of actual modern technology, rather than bag one of the multitudes of ho-hum, shiny, Anser-style blades, just because they look pretty.
Now that you're fully aware that I'm the guy driving the high-road looking down on the herds beneath, please allow me to introduce my current gamer, the Radius Classic 3. The CNC milled Classic 3 is an Anser (more specifically, an Anser 2) style putter in the modern tradition of a Scotty Cameron Newport 2. That sound you're hearing is me careening off the high-road (and my high-horse), and quietly joining the flock. Baaah...baaah.
I suspect there are more than a few of you reading this who have never actually heard of Radius putters, and fewer of you still who have actually tried one out. There are a couple of reasons for that. Firstly, Radius is a relatively new company. The company basically started back in 2008 when two industry veterans, Graham Webb and Peter Lord, decided to step up and fill what they saw as a vacancy in the niche, high-end putter market.
Now I know what you're thinking...there's no void in the high-end putter market. You've got Scotty Cameron (although he's not exactly a niche guy anymore), Bettinardi, TP Mills, Machine, Lajosi...the list is long. This brings me to the 2nd reason why you might not be familiar with the Radius brand. Look at the names of the guys who started the company again...it'll come to you...maybe. That's right, those names look British, don't they? Damn...those guys are British.
As it turns out, while over here on our side of the pond we've got a surplus of higher-end putter designers, in the UK it sounds like they're in relatively short supply. So as I said, to fill the void, Graham and Peter stepped up. It took the better part of 3 years, but in 2011, Radius Putter was born.
As the name suggests, the Classic 3 is from the Radius Classic Series, which they describe this way:
Now that we've gotten the introduction out of the way, let's talk a little bit more about the Classic 3. Well...before we talk about the Radius 3, let's again see what the guys have to say about it:
Radius Classic 3 Features:
- Material: Forged S20C, Fully CNC Milled
- Weight: 350 grams
- Loft: 3.5 Degrees
- Lie Angle: 70 Degrees (available in +1, +2, -1, -2)
- Toe Hang: 4:00
- Length Options: 33", 34", 35", 36", Custom
- Offset: Full
- Stepless Steel Shaft
BALL USED: Various
Radius suggests that the forged, fully CNC milled head offers a "stunningly unique feel". While I don't necessarily think it's unique (unique would be if it felt like putting with a balloon, or maybe a chihuahua), but I certainly like it. For comparisons sake I can tell you that it's a tad softer than the Nike's Polymetal insert, not quite as soft as a Bettinardi Fit-Face, and nowhere near as soft as one of those Odyssey white inserts.
On impact the Radius Classic 3 has what I'd call a moderate click. While you can get away with a little bit from a roll perspective, mis-hits on the toe and heel have a noticeably less pleasant feel than ball struck with the part of the face you're actually supposed to hit the ball with. That's a real positive, especially if you like screaming things like "off the damn toe again. Son of...". Well...you get the picture.
What's not to like about a classically styled putter with a matte black finish? I've really only got one complaint. The Radius logo medallion is a yellow, orange, and red bulls-eye pattern that looks like it's probably made from plastic. They put one on the face and one on the sole, and while I get that there's value in having your logo on your product, in this case I think it detracts from an otherwise stellar package.
The cross-hatched face milling is unique, and is exquisitely done. I know there are plenty of you out there who will be put-off by the sightline on the topline of the putter. I get that plenty of guys don't like them, but I'm not one of you. I've personally never been a fan of a plumbers neck, and so I never spent enough time with one to get a real feel for how they work for me. It turns out they're probably ideal for my stroke, and because of the Radius Classic 3, I'll be willing to take a second look at one in the future.
While it's a small thing, one of my favorite aesthetic features of the Radius Classic Series is the way the model number, and what I assume is the serial number, are stamped into the sole. It gives the putter a prototype-like appearance, without the prototype price.
Radius putters come stock with a stepless steel shaft. It's a small thing, but most of us love the look of other stepless shafts (Project X, KBS C-Taper), and it's no different with the putter.
Finally, my test sample came with the stock Radius grip in white and silver. Like the putter it features the Radius bulls-eye logo, but on the white grip, it looks just fine.
SET-UP & ALIGNMENT
If there's one area where I believe mallets have an inherent advantage over blade style putters it's that they're simply easier to align. Hunter Mahan for example changed from an blade to a mallet, and for a while it looked like he couldn't miss. Granted, some of that is psychological, but there's no doubt it takes more effort to properly setup to the target line with a blade.
The Classic 3 is no exception. While I'd love to tell you that it's extremely easy for me to square up to where I need to be, the truth is that I have to work a little harder to put myself in the proper position, and it's much easier for that alignment to get away from me. Last weekend it took me 9 holes to realize that I was habitually setting up closed to the target. Again, part of that is human error, but some putters are certainly easier to align than others. The Radius Classic 3 is simply average.
Unlike the Nike Method Concept that I reviewed last time around, the Radius Classic 3 doesn't have any special weight bars or any other technology that can help a guy like me compensate for a slightly outside takeaway. If course, if the tempo is smooth, the takeaway isn't all that important, provided I can make the adjustments at the top of the arc to put the damn thing back on the proper path. That said, if you're one of those guys who can get overly focused on your takeaway (my disaster move is to notice the outside takeaway, and follow it up with a decelerating duff that goes practically nowhere.
I've come to realize that if I focus less on the stroke, and just roll the damn ball, some good things happen. And with the Radius Classic 3, good things seem to come in abundance (like making 6 putts outside of 15 feet - two of them outside 30 - in a single 9 hole match).
Radius putters feature 3.5° of loft, which while not quite up to the Scotty standard of 4° is slightly more that you'll find on those putters where the talking points including minimizing said loft to get the ball rolling quickly. I'm not going to pretend I know why the ideal putter loft is. Actually, I suspect it's one of those things where different golfers need different lofts. Anyway, what I can tell you is that I haven't noticed and skidding or bouncing, nor have I had any trouble getting the ball out of its own depression (often the argument for more loft). Basically 3.5° seems to work just fine for me.
In my estimation the single most important aspect of putter performance is distance control. You can misread breaks all day long, but as long as you don't miss low and send your ball tumbling down a slope; if your distance control is solid, you're going to have tap-ins all day long. Distance control is more important than the line. Remember that.
My club has inadvertently given me (and my Radius 3) quite a challenge of late. Our greens have rolled at a moderate pace since basically forever (and that's probably talking up the speed). To prepare for the US Open qualifier we hosted last month, however; the superintendent borrowed a green roller (and didn't bother to tell the members). The greens picked up speed but quick, but fortunate I was able to adjust. And then I had to adjust again when they returned the roller. And again when, having decided they liked the faster greens, they went out and bought one of their very own.
The point is, on slow greens, and on faster green, distance control with the Radius Classic 3 is the least of my concerns.
Side note...all those crybabies out there begging the USGA to ban the belly putter because the make putting easier. First, why is nobody whining about high MOI drivers that make fairways easier to hit, or those chipping clubs that make life easier for guys who can't handle their 8-iron? More to the point, belly putters make some aspects of putting easier (like hitting it straight), but damned if they don't make others, like distance control, more difficult. Every tried to cozy a 50 footer with a belly putter? Give me a traditional putter any day.
My point is that as a guy who putted almost exclusively with a belly putter all of last season, switching to a blade has made me a distance control virtuoso, and the Radius Classic 3 makes it easier still.
- Distance Control = 9.9
- Accuracy = 9.2
- Sound & Feel = 9.5
- Appearance = 9.3
- Alignment = 8.4
- OVERALL = 92.60
FIT FOR STROKE™
Don’t change your stroke. Change your putter.
The (FIT FOR STROKE™) concept was developed by PING, yet another genius fitting system they have developed for golfers. It works hand-in-hand with the iPING Putter App which is highly suggest everyone getting (IT’S FREE!). You might be surprised to find out that the stroke you think you have isn’t the stroke you actually have.
This addition to the MGS reviews will allow you to become a more consistent putter by matching you with models that better fit your stroke type. They will be broken down into three categories: (1) Straight – for face balance putters (2) Slight Arc – for mid toe hang putters (3) Strong Arc – for toe down putters
“Results from hundreds of player and robot tests at PING offer overwhelming scientific support for the effectiveness of fitting for stroke. In recent years more diagnostic tools and testing equipment have become available, and the results prove that a golfer’s consistency improves when their putter balance matches their stroke type. It was interesting to observe that golfers putt more consistently with stroke-appropriate models, but they also show a personal preference for these models, too. Prior to putting with them, golfers are drawn to models that fit their eye, even before they fit their stroke.” says PING.
The Radius Classic 3 is a: Slight Arc
I knew I liked the Radius Classic 3 the first time I putted with it in my office. What I never imagined is that it would find itself so firmly rooted in my bag that I'm finding it difficult to take it out long enough to test anything else. In less than half a season it has already been in my bag for two Tournament Wins (actually, tied 1st, bumped to second both times...first time on the cards, second time on head to head in match play), and barring some catastrophic loss of my putting stroke, hopefully it will be there for a couple more (Club Championship is at the end of this month, Individual Match Play a few weeks later).
The knock (apart from the plastic bullseye logo) is that finding a Radius Putter in the USA can be excruciatingly difficult. The good news is that the guys at Radius are very close to finalizing a couple of deals which should make it much easier for those of us states-side to not only purchase, but hopefully demo what I think is one of the best "new" putter brands we've seen in quite some time.