The inventions of perimeter weighted irons and perimeter weighted putters by Karsten Solheim are still the only recent club design breakthroughs (since metal shafts and the sand-wedge) that have actually made golf somewhat easier for the average player. USGA handicap records supposedly show that 18 hole scores of average players has declined less than 1 stoke since they began keeping score data in 1948.
Ping discovered that varying groove depths on grooved putter faces can produce more consistent distances from off-center putter face ball contact. MGS test results indicated that Ping "might have" another technological advancement; varying groove depths in a mallet putter could benefit anyone considering a heavy mallet putter.
My trusty long putter would be illegal in 2 years, requiring going back to a short putter. Each one of my 5 previous short putters demonstrated why it had been replaced, so I was looking, but not in a hurry. Previous MGS comparisons of clubs were extremely helpful to deciding on new clubs, so new MGS putter test results convinced me to consider a Ping Ketsch.
Oh, oh! Ping Ketsch putters were sold out everywhere I checked. Then MGS reported that Ping had stopped taking new Ketsch putter orders, in addition to canceling over 6000 backorders, but previously accepted orders would be fulfilled.
During this time I was a once-a-week Golf Galaxy non-buying regular after accepting that, for some undisclosed reason, Ping had actually stopped delivery of their new Ketsch putter, despite enormous interest and thousands of orders. MGS members speculated widely, offering two very believable and possible scenarios why Ping had made such a disruptive decision.
The supposed inside story: The failure rate of carving exactingly precise grooves with variable depths for just the center grooves of a previously machined block of aluminum was too high to continue. Manufacturing this putter head in the quantities that Ping needed for consumer orders could not be done with Ping's existing equipment in Scottsdale. The Ping Ketsch putter was designed by the Ping research lab in Ketsch, Germany, without consideration of manufacturing cost limitations.
How difficult could it be to cut equally spaced grooves on one side of a precisely shaped aluminum block and then precisely vary the additional depth of just the center grooves?
Much more costly than Ping ever imagined. Ping thought that duplicating the precise position necessary to accurately deepen the center grooves could be done with their existing machinery. Ping refused to validate speculations that every Ketsch putter head made in Scottsdale shipped before Ping stopped production had to be hand checked because groove flaws were too common. Unverified tales of 40% rejections, 65% rejections, and even 80% failure numbers are most likely exaggerations, but Ping's cancellation of already ordered Ketsch putters had to result from some type of manufacturing problems.
I tell this story about Ping and MGS because MGS tests indicated that this new Ping Ketsch putter was overwhelmingly superior to any other tested putter, in addition to being priced right in the middle. MGS tests also showed that higher priced putters were demonstrably inferior to the new Ketsch.
How would you label what serendipitously happened to me when I was again in Golf Galaxy? I was repeatedly told by every Ping seller that Ping wasn't accepting any more Ketsch orders. Golf Galaxy repeatedly insisted that their monthly orders for Ping putters were not changed by Ping's Ketsch cancellation, and I could still order any other Ping putter. While I was once again testing putters in another attempt to determine which configuration would be the least harmful, I was interrupted by a Golf Galaxy salesman who understood the difficulty of changing from a long putter to a short putter. He whispered to me that his store had just received 3 Ping Ketsch putters specifically stated in the included Ping invoice that were sent to fulfill earlier guaranteed special orders accepted by Ping.
The 34" and a 35" Ketsch putters were grabbed as soon as I removed my hands, but shortly afterward I was given a 35" counterbalanced model, which I immediately bought. All 3 had the same putting arc, which I knew nothing about, but I didn't care because I hadn't a clue about my putting arc and because I believed that MGS reports and member comments were more accurate and more valid than any other source.
Conclusion: searching for, and obtaining my Ping Ketsch putter was 100% due to MGS, and this putter really has reduced my total putt numbers.