By Gary Van Sickle
Inventor and golf-club designer Clay Judice was fighting a losing battle against the yips. He had to do something. So he came up with the Shaftlign putter.
“Alignment was always an issue for me,” said Judice, of Lafayette, La. “Alignment killed me on those 3-footers. I thought my yips were caused by insecurity on the speed, not necessarily hitting the target line.”
The solution he found was simple and straightforward. His Shaftlign putter features a white shaft attached to a black putter head. Atop the putter head is a white bar from toe to heel. Here’s how it works: You address the putt, making sure that the white shaft aligns with the white bar on the putter head. When you’ve got it right, all you see is one long white line to the toe of the club. It’s easy and visually pleasing and, once you see the club, obvious.
(To see it in action, check the video at www.Shaftlign.com, where the putter can be purchased: $249 milled, $199 milled face.)
All Judice had at last year’s PGA Merchandise Show was a prototype model. He wasn’t sure that he even wanted to try selling it to the public. Then some guy attending the show picked up his putter to take a look at it.
“Cool,” the man said. “It reminds me of the old Bulls Eye.” The man’s name tag read Steve Jones. Yes, that Steve Jones, the former PGA Tour player and 1996 U.S. Open champion. That encouragement helped persuade Judice to start producing the Shaftlign.
The Shaftlign CJ1 has a milled face and a soft feel. Using its white-line alignment system, I quickly realized that I had not been setting up to the ball correctly with my regular putter. I closed one eye and looked down the shaft until the white lines came together, and then I stroked the putt. Just knowing that I had addressed the putter squarely to the ball gave me more confidence.
“Everybody wants to use the horizontal line on top of or behind the putter head because it seems logical for aiming,” Judice said. “In reality, it is the most difficult way to line up, and very few golfers line it up accurately. Perpendicular to the line is the most consistent way, but you’re not as comfortable with it until you get used to it. Your brain leads you to the exactness you need with that perpendicular white line.”
And with it, perhaps a victory in that battle against the yips.
Gary Van Sickle has covered golf since 1980 for Sports Illustrated and Golf.com, Golf World and The Milwaukee Journal.