A MODERN PUTTER FOR THE MODERN GOLFER

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High-tech manufacturing and materials aren't just for drivers anymore

Whether it’s on TV, at your local course, or at the golf store, it’s easy to see that golf has become a high-tech sport. Drivers and irons today are made with materials and advanced manufacturing processes that are truly cutting edge, all in the service of greater forgiveness and performance.  Hickory shafts and persimmon woods popular just a few decades ago have been completely replaced by carbon fiber, hollow titanium shells, and adjustable weights. And rightfully so; in today’s data-driven world, golfers at every level are demanding equipment that gives them any competitive edge they can get.

But what about the club in your bag you use most – the putter?

High-tech materials and processes have been slow to trickle down into the putter category.  Some models on the market today are basically identical (and purposefully so) to those sold in the 1960’s. "You'd be hard pressed to name another piece of sporting equipment that hasn't changed in over 50 years" notes Jim Varney, President and co-founder of Sentio Golf. "Shoes, tennis rackets, skis, you name it. In every case manufacturers use engineered materials, like polymers, to deliver improved performance to their customers. So we wondered, why should putters be any different?" 

 The translucent TPE polymer core, visible when lit from behind, is color-coded based on hardness and model (green for Soft, red for Medium, and blue for Firm).

The translucent TPE polymer core, visible when lit from behind, is color-coded based on hardness and model (green for Soft, red for Medium, and blue for Firm).

That question eventually led to Jim and his business partner Bryan Hotaling, both with backgrounds in product design and engineering, to start Sentio Golf. The company, founded in 2015, employs the latest in engineering and materials science to craft some of the most advanced putters on the market. The Massachusetts based company has developed a patented floating-face construction which completely separates the stainless steel face from the rest of the putter head with a vibration-dampening thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) polymer core. Unlike other putter companies that use glue or fasteners, Sentio uses a method called “insert molding” to fuse the materials together.  In this process, the polymer is injected as a liquid under high pressure and temperature directly into the space between the metal parts. Sentio’s proprietary TPE formulation bonds to the metal surfaces, creating an intimate connection between the face, polymer, and putter head without the need for adhesives, screws, or bolts. The company even made the TPE translucent so that although it looks black at address, when lit from behind it reveals a colorful see-through layer running from heel to toe.

According to Jim, applying this technique to putters is challenging, but ultimately rewarding.  “Insert molding requires extremely tight manufacturing tolerances, so our metal components are made to some of the highest dimensional standards in the industry. Developing the process took several months working with our molding partner here in Massachusetts, requiring specialized equipment and highly trained personnel. But the opportunities it opened up for us were huge. It allows us to do things that no one else can.”

 The putter’s precision metal components are placed into a tool where a proprietary polymer is injected under high temperature and pressure to form the core. Above, technicians at the Massachusetts facility load a Sierra 101 "Century Edition" putter body into one of their medical-grade clean room presses.

The putter’s precision metal components are placed into a tool where a proprietary polymer is injected under high temperature and pressure to form the core. Above, technicians at the Massachusetts facility load a Sierra 101 "Century Edition" putter body into one of their medical-grade clean room presses.

Molding the TPE polymer behind the face allows Sentio to use much softer materials than you find in a typical insert, while still complying with USGA rules. This gives the putters a feel that is both crisp and smooth on contact, like a milled and insert putter rolled into one. Sentio has the unique ability to change how the putter feels just by changing the hardness, aka durometer, of the TPE material. The company’s Sierra 101 line, launched in 2016, comes in Soft, Medium, and Firm models, each molded with a different durometer (and color) of TPE that corresponds to a different roll-out distance.

From its beginning, a focus on “feel” was the defining mission for the young company. “Given how important feel is in golf, especially putting, we thought it was strange how little attention it got from other manufacturers”, explains Jim. According to industry research giant Golf DataTech, 85% of golfers say that “feel” is the most important factor when choosing a putter. “Every golfer has an expectation of how far the ball will roll with a given stroke; it stands to reason that if you can fit the putter to match your innate expectations, your distance control will improve and you will make more putts. This was our goal with starting Sentio - to give golfers the ability to choose the feel that best fits their game.” The company even used it as the basis of their name; ‘sentio’ is the Latin root for ‘feel’.

 Variable depth channels in the back of the face (visible here in this separated part) were designed to provide forgiveness by making impact consistent across the face.

Variable depth channels in the back of the face (visible here in this separated part) were designed to provide forgiveness by making impact consistent across the face.

Sentio’s patented construction does more than just provide a supple feel.  The “Sierra” line name refers to the saw-tooth shape of the variable depth channels in the back side of the floating face; these create a gradual dampening of the sweet spot, making impact more consistent and forgiving across the face. The floating face and horizontal grooves combine to gently absorb shock at impact and promote almost immediate forward roll with less skidding. Additionally, the lighter polymer in the center of the head helps to increase the putter’s MOI while the visible top line of the core also makes a powerful perpendicular alignment aid.

 At address the translucent polymer core turns black, forming a T-shaped alignment guide with the center line.

At address the translucent polymer core turns black, forming a T-shaped alignment guide with the center line.

“Our technology allows us to check off all the boxes you need for performance in a putter, including feel, alignment, and forgiveness” notes Jim. “This is the first time that one technology has been able to bring all of these elements together in a single putter.”

Sentio’s Sierra putters have received numerous accolades and critical praise since their debut, including a coveted Top 10 finish in MyGolfSpy.com’s “Most Wanted” tests in both 2016 and 2017. In these tests MyGolfSpy assembles a large field of the best putters on the market and uses objective, data-driven testing procedures to determine relative performance, measured as strokes gained or lost against the field. With “positive strokes gained” both years, Sentio’s putters have emerged as one of the few on the market proven to lower scores.

 “There is an old misconception that because you aren’t hitting the ball as far with a putter that you could use just about anything and it wouldn’t make a difference”, says Jim. “But now we know that just isn’t true. Using a putter that improves distance control, forgiveness, and alignment will make you better on the greens, and you’ll probably enjoy the game more. Golfers should expect the best technology available in all their equipment, and we’re proud to finally be able to give it to them.”