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When Rickie Fowler was at the peak of his powers, he was one of the best putters in golf. In fact, in 2017, when he won the Honda Classic, earned 10 top-10 finishes and over $6 million in prize money. He also led the PGA Tour in strokes gained, with an average of 0.852.
To give that seemingly small number some context, it means that over the course of a 72-hole tournament, Fowler gained a 3.4-shot advantage over the average player in the field based solely on the quality of his putting.
Last season, however, Fowler dropped to No. 126 in strokes gained putting, with an average of -0.091, which means that the average player on the PGA Tour was getting an edge over Fowler.
Last week at the CJ Cup in Las Vegas, Fowler earned tied for third with Keith Mitchell, three shots behind the winner, Rory McIlroy. His 66-66-63 start gave him the lead with only 18 holes to go, but he was undone by a Sunday 71 on a course that yielded several lower scores (like Collin Morikawa’s 62).
While battling to escape his slump, Fowler has tinkered with his gear. He used different drivers (he used a Cobra King F9 last week) and different irons (he’s gone back to Cobra King Forged MB irons with a dark finish), switched to old steel shafts in his irons and now into Mitsubishi’s MMT graphite iron shots and tried a few different putters.
During his two events in Las Vegas, Fowler used a new Cobra putter that is very different from the latest 3D Printed putters that the company released in May. While those putters are made using stainless steel, forged aluminum, 3D printed nylon and tungsten weights, Fowler’s heel-toe weighted blade is made by 3D printing stainless steel.
Rickie Fowler’s new putter.
In most cases, the advantage of 3D printing is that it allows designers to create shapes that could not be manufactured by milling, forging or casting. Fowler’s putter does not require exotic shaping, but 3D printing also produces equipment to exact tolerances. What engineers program into the computer is precisely created.
After the 3D printing process was completed, Fowler’s putter was milled to give it a look like putters he has used in the past.
Rickie Fowler’s new putter
The prototype is called a Cobra Sport 45, and it has a tri-sole design with 15-gram weights in the heel and toe areas of the sole. The head is made from 316 stainless steel. It has a grooved face pattern with four distinct panels that run from heel to toe. Designed by SIK Golf, the face has Descending Loft Technology that gives the top panel 4 degrees of loft and each panel below it 1 degree less. The lowest panel has just 1 degree of loft. The idea is that regardless of whether a golfer strikes a putt with a forward press or swings up into the ball, the putter presents the ideal “effective loft” to the ball to encourage a better roll.
Fowler’s putter is 35 inches long, has a 70-degree lie angle and is fitted with a steel True Temper putter shaft and Golf Pride Tour Tradition grip.