A strange thing happened at the US Open recently – the top three players in the world all used the same putter, a TaylorMade Spider Tour.
The American company is best known for their dominance of the driver market – but it was their flat stick that got plenty of attention at Erin Hills and continued the trend of the world’s best players including a mallet-shaped putter in their bag.
Back in the day, not that long ago, the practice putting green at a Tour event would be full of classic, blade putters. Now the transition is moving more and more towards the mallet. As well as Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, a mallet can be found in the bags of Open champion Henrik Stenson and Adam Scott.
You might also recognise it as the putter that helped Sergio Garcia over the line at The Masters.
McIlroy’s choice of putter has been on a merry-go-round this season. At the recent Travelers Championship he tried three wands in four rounds, but he had plenty to say about the Spider Tour Red (Day also uses the Red, Johnson prefers the Black, while there is also a Platinum version).
“I sort of figured it helped me align better and helped with my aim. It’s awesome because you set this thing up and you know exactly where you’re aiming, and it sits so square with that with that flow neck,” explained the four-time Major winner.
“We tested a lot of putters and that was really the one that came out better than the rest in terms of launch conditions and how fast it got the ball rolling, side spin, even face rotation. I felt like I could bring it back to square more often than anything else I had tested.”
The Spider Tour came about after Day wanted a smaller version of TaylorMade’s Itsy Bitsy Spider, which he won his only Major with at Whistling Straits, and also something in red. Then Johnson wanted one but in black.
There are no alignment lines, although McIlroy requested one for his version, and though the putter frames and sits behind the ball nicely enough, there are discretionary weights behind the heel and toe, without the need for any help.
It is designed to have a high moment on inertia (MOI) which, in layman’s terms, is a resistance to twisting on impact – and what this putter does really well is inspire confidence and increase forgiveness which you might think isn’t that relevant for a putter but we rarely strike the ball perfectly out of the middle of the face.
Other interesting bits of technology involve an aluminium ‘pure roll’ insert which stops the ball skidding which, in turn, will help with your line and distance control.
Putters are like other halves, we all think we’ve got the best-looking ones, and each to their own and all that.
The traditionalist might not be seen dead with this type of putter but plenty will be dying to see what all the fuss is about and start knocking in all those three-footers, and maybe a few longer efforts, which is sort of the point of it all.