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Rose breaks through with a counter-balanced putter

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To the untrained eye, the putter Justin Rose used to win the 2013 U.S. Open looked much like the black-and-white blade putters he’s used in the past. But even though it looked almost the same, it was the most distinct putter he has ever used.

Rose used a TaylorMade Spider Blade putter to win his first major championship at Merion Golf Club, TaylorMade’s newest putter that has a heavier head and heavier grip to give the putter more stability than the company’s standard putters.

According to Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade’s product creation manager, Rose loves the look and the feel of the Spider Blade. But what he likes more is the ease with which he can “release,” or square up the putter at impact.

To fine tune the release, Rose had the putter made to 37 5/8 inches. But Rose doesn’t play the putter at that length. He does what he likely did the first time he ever picked up a putter as a child; he chokes up.

spider blade

According to Bazzel, choking up on a counter-balanced putter gives the putter more stability, as the added weight of the grip and shaft above the hands raises the putter’s balance point. Since Rose prefers standard putters that measure 34.5 inches, he chokes down about three inches, which makes the putter feel normal to him.

The last thing Rose needed to do before putting the Spider Blade in play was deciding on a neck for the putter. TaylorMade offers two different necks for the Spider Blade — an “L,” or “plumber’s neck,” which is better for straighter strokes, and a “short slant” neck that is better for strokes with more face rotation. Rose’s putting coach, David Orr, said that Rose needs the added rotation that the short slant neck provides because it improves the consistency of his release.

justin rose putter

Rose feels more confident with the Spider Blade than his other putters, Orr said, because instead of trying to release the toe of the putter during the stroke, he feels like he can “release the entire putter.”

“We’re really pleased with the putter,” Orr said. “It made his posture better, so he can see his line better. And it lets his stroke flow a little better.”

According to Bazzel, Rose’s U.S. Open-winning Spider Blade is the most off-the-rack putter that Rose has used in his career. It features the same PureRoll Suryln insert available on the retail Spider Blade,  and aside from a slightly different graphics scheme, the same 15-inch, 130-gram grip.

For golfers seeking even more stability than the Spider Blade can provide, TaylorMade offers its Daddy Long Legs putter (Click here for our full review). The Daddy Long Legs is larger, and has a heavier head than the Spider Blade. It is not available with a short slant neck, however, meaning it is best for straighter strokes. Both putters cost $199, and are available in 35- and 38-inch lengths.

Rose’s Spider Blade Putter Specs:

  • Loft: 3.5 degrees
  • Lie: 70.5 degrees
  • Head weight: 358 grams (3 grams heavier than retail)
  • Shaft: 122 grams (TaylorMade tour-only matte black shaft finish)
  • Grip: 130 grams
  • Total Weight: 610 grams

Click here to see the specs of all the clubs in Rose’s bag.

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. PuttingDoctor

    Jun 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Glad to see so many now jumping on what I’ve been doing for the past six years. I use a 32.5″ putter but due to a need to let folks putt with my stick I left it at 34″. I have had a 75G counterweight in it for about five years.

    As great as the putter is in and of itself Justin made some stroke changes to accommodate the David Orr tells me.

    We’ll look for more success from Justin as he and David tweak this setup for even better results as they test and train on their SAM PuttLabs.

    It really is about the #1 club in the bag….the putter!

    • Dolph Lundgrenade

      Jun 28, 2013 at 11:08 pm

      @Gulpeg and PuttingDoctor

      Not only did I invent counter-balancing in the 20’s, I invented the first version of golf to the native Americans before vacationing in Scotland and explaining it to them. Of course, before all of this I created energy and then made it blow up causing all the matter in the universe to randomly configure itself into the world you all enjoy today. So, I guess you are all very very welcome and no thanks is needed. The journey was the reward.

  2. Hootiecrash

    Jun 20, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    it appears in the article that the putter grip itself and his gripping down is what causes the counterbalance. is Rose using a backweighted putter grip? if so, how much weight is being added in the grip?

  3. gulpeg

    Jun 19, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    oh, the new revelation of a counter weighted grip. sorry, been doin’it for almost 8 years already. i guess some of the personal custom fitters are way ahead of the big boys. but it works

  4. Juan

    Jun 19, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    So how is this different from the Heavy-putter series?

    • Dolph Lundgrenade

      Jun 28, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      Oh, didn’t you get the memo? It’s got DragonBall-Z graphics that your kid will enjoy! AND its fortified with Vitamins A,B and C! Yay!

      …that was sarcasm. Its not different. It just won the US Open though so maybe the only good clubs are those that win majors.

  5. Dave

    Jun 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    How much is TM paying all of these golf blogs/websites?! Every single one has an article about this new putter. It’s as if Justin Rose, the #5 ranked player in the world, just came out of no where to win the US Open b/c he switched putters. He also hit a ton of fairways (4th in FIW) and his ballstriking was suburb (9th). His putting was actually only ranked 16th so you could argue it was the least important of these stats (esp at Merion where a missed FW accounted for approx .6 of a stroke lost (the highest of the last 5 US Opens). But for some reason (hmmm) we’re all talking about this putter… the TM PR machine is running at full steam apparenently…

  6. Blanco

    Jun 19, 2013 at 2:34 am

    what makes this works is despite the counterbalancing, neither side of the club is overly heavy… plus the stepped shaft is extremely soft to flex for a putter shaft.

  7. Joe Golfer

    Jun 19, 2013 at 2:08 am

    Sounds like a great putter. Thanks, GolfWRX for the new info on this little beauty.
    I like that it is counterbalanced.
    I’ve tried a counterbalanced driver shaft and a slightly heavier grip, and I like the results. Makes it easier to control the head.
    I think this idea will catch on with a lot of other companies also.

  8. Sean

    Jun 18, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    I’ve been using one for five weeks. Great balance, weight, and feel. It almost putts itself. Nothing is forced.

  9. Harrison

    Jun 18, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I just got the putter – switched from a custom shop scotty – I took most of the loft off and made it more upright. It sets up extremely flat, however, all in all sweet putter!

  10. Tate

    Jun 18, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Bet those 3 extra grams of headweight made all the difference.

  11. DenverB

    Jun 18, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Please tell me TM is going to release a “JR” version of this putter, with the black shaft and red/yellow grip!

  12. Chuck

    Jun 18, 2013 at 11:37 am

    He is not anchoring this putter.

  13. Liz | Breaking Eighty

    Jun 18, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Was curious about this myself, if the counter weighted putter is something that will be deemed illegal down the road.

  14. Brockohol

    Jun 18, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Yes he was…at least to my interpretation of the new stupid rules.

    This thing will fly off the shelves this summer just like the 2 Ball, Ghost, etc…Its a weird feel but I have tried the longer ones and they do feel great choked down like Rose does. Almost impossible not to have a smooth pendulum motion. Now we just need a putter that reads the break and how hard to hit it.

    • cnitty

      Jun 18, 2013 at 11:18 am

      Wait… how was he “anchoring” it?

      • Brockohol

        Jun 19, 2013 at 11:16 am

        I meant yes, he was using in accordance to new rules.

  15. Mat

    Jun 17, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    Just for clarity, was he using it in a 2016-legal way?

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Accessory Reviews

I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went

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Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.

Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.

It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.

The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.

But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.

Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.

“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”

“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.

On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.

The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.

We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.

Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)

Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.

Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.

But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.

Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.

Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.

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Equipment

Titleist AVX golf balls passed the test, are now available across the United States

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Titleist’s AVX golf balls first came to retail as an experiment in three markets — Arizona, California and Florida — from October 2017 to January 2018. AVX (which stands for “Alternative to the V and X”) are three-piece golf balls made with urethane covers, and they’re made with a softer feel for more distance than the Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls.

After proving their worth to consumers, Titleist’s AVX golf balls are now available across the U.S. as of April 23, and they will sell for 47.99 per dozen (the same as Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls) in both white and optic yellow.

According to Michael Mahoney, the Vice President of Golf Ball Marketing for Titleist, the AVX is a member of the Pro V1 family. Here’s a basic understanding of the lineup:

  • AVX: Softest, lowest trajectory, lowest spinning, less greenside spin and longest
  • Pro V1x: Firmer than the Pro V1, highest spinning and highest trajectory
  • Pro V1: Sits between the V1x and the AVX in terms of feel, spin and trajectory, and will appeal to most golfers

Different from the Pro V1 or Pro V1x, the AVX golf balls have a new GRN41 thermoset cast urethane cover to help the golf balls achieve the softer feel. Also, they have high speed, low compression cores, a new high-flex casing layer, and a new dimple design/pattern.

For in-depth tech info on the new AVX golf balls, how they performed in the test markets, and who should play the AVX golf balls, listen to our podcast below with Michael Mahoney, or click here to listen on iTunes.

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the AVX golf balls

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Andrew Landry’s Winning WITB: 2018 Valero Texas Open

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Driver: Ping G30 (9 degrees at 8.8 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Tour Blue ATX65 TX
Length: 45.25 inches, tipped at 1 inch
Swing Weight: D3

3 Wood: Ping G (14.5 degrees at 15.15 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Yellow 75
Length: 43 inches, tipped 1 inch
Swing Weight: D2

5 Wood: Ping G (17.5 degrees at 17.75 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Yellow 85
Length: 42 inches
Swing Weight: D2

Irons: Ping iBlade (3-PW)
Shafts: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 105X
Swing Weight: D2

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (52-12F and 60-10S)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue

Putter: Ping PLD ZB-S
Grip: Ping Pistol
Length, loft, lie: 33 inches, 3 degrees, 3 degrees flat

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Grips: Lamkin Crossline Full Cord

WITB Notes: Landry tweaked his iron lofts before the Valero; 1 degree weak in his 4 and 5 iron, and 0.5 degrees weak in his 6-PW.

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Landry’s clubs.

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