Since they burst onto the golfing scene, it’s fair to say that Nike golf have surprised everyone with the scale of their success. Capturing the world’s number one golfer was the sort of marketing move you would expect from a global sports behemoth like Nike but how quickly they started making genuinely brilliant golf equipment was not.
For the last few years, Nike has made superb options for all areas of the game – all areas bar the putter. In fact, given the quality they have in every other part of the bag, the glaring blank spot where you would expect to find premium putter is distinctly odd. Previous attempts at making one produced the likes of the Unitized which you would describe as average if you were being kind. However, the creation of a putter that in prototype form took 2 majors and 3 other tour wins has made everyone sit up an take notice. Step forward the METHOD putters.
Named after the ‘scientific method’ used by the engineers and designers at Nike’s Research and Development center The OVEN, the METHOD series putters have a face with a unique combination of grooves and multi-material construction. Like Yes!, TaylorMade and Rife before them, the polymetal groove system is designed to get the ball rolling faster to minimize bounce and keep the ball on line to produce the sort of performance that top tour players demand. How well they have succeeded at this seems to have been demonstrated by Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink when they won the 2009 U.S. Open and The OPEN Championship respectively.
The METHOD comes in 5 models, the 001 plumbers neck blade, the 002 heel shafted blade, the 003 heel shafted mid mallet, the 004 face balanced blade and the 005 face balanced mid mallet.
We are told this about the design of each of these putters: ‘The Nike METHOD has a flowed-through low-durometer polymetal groove technology that dampens impact vibrations for soft touch, while the interspersed milled steel face maintains audible feedback for proper distance control. A multi-material face starts the ball on a positive spin that is faster than both a milled steel putter as well as putters with a polymer face insert.’
Nike have left behind the weird designs and dodgy paint jobs to and have returned back to a clean and classic approach and they have done a great job with this new look. The steel part of the face has fantastically precise milling marks and the 7 polymetal lines are actually flush with the face despite looking like they are slightly proud. A closer look at the face also shows that the face has 3 surfaces in contact with the ball – the milled 303 steel, the polymetal grooves and the actual grooves milled into the face. The sole of the club looks ‘beached’ but in fact is just where polymetal enters the head.
The one fly in the looks ointment is the ‘waffles’ on the back of the bumpers. Only the most die-hard of Nike fans could think that they are attractive and considering that there weren’t present on the prototypes you wonder why they were added. Thankfully they are invisible at address as they don’t fit in with the rest of the club.
Specifically looking at the 001, it’s no secret that this is the version that was designed with Tiger Woods in mind. With styling highly reminiscent of Woods’ Newport 2, sight dot and all, it’s a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and Nike’s biggest desire must be to get this into his bag. Of course, whether Woods will ever be parted from his putter is another matter.
The head cover is a classy black leather affair and is very well made. The magnetic strip closures makes them both very easy and very quiet to use.
Coming from previous Nike putters, the level of feel offered by METHOD putters is nothing short of a revelation. Finally Nike have taken the step up into the level of feedback required for a putter to be considered top tier. The feel is softer than a pure metal putter but has none of the deadness you often get with full face inserts. Across both the putters tested the feel from the combination of the milled steel, the polymetal insert and the grooves managed to be both lively and solid. While this was most obvious with premium balls, even distance balls gave the level of feedback required to be able to judge distances perfectly.
One of the most obvious strengths of the METHOD putters is that the sweetspot is right across the width of the grooves. You have to actively try to miss the grooves if you want to get anything less than a great sensation.
The grip is a GolfPride Tour Tradition and the standard smaller sized grip ensures that you don’t lose anything from head to hands as the club sits more in the fingers.
Whether you have a gated stroke or a straight-back straight-through or some combination of the two, the variety of models offered ensure that there is something that will match your stroke and make it easy to get the ball rolling to the hole. Another of the benefits of the polymetal groove system is that it allows 30 grams of internal weight to be excavated from the face and body and relocated to the perimeter. The resulting increase in MOI means straighter putts on off center hits.
The effects of the grooves is obvious too. As with other groove faced putters, the ball comes off the face and gets rolling fast. The way the ball hugs the green means that it is less likely to stray. So you can spend more time thinking about getting the ball in the hole rather than worrying about it skittering offline.
Grooved faced putters can sometimes make judging long distance putts tricky. With the ball rolling faster and skipping less at the start of the putt the tendency is to gas the ball past the hole. The sheer torrent of feedback means that you quickly pick up the required touch to regularly leave the ball close to the hole.
Finally, Nike have produced something that belongs in the premium putter market. They took a not unusual decision to release a limited edition (LE) version months ahead of the standard version. As hoped for, the interest generated was huge. However, the time between the LE and this version coming out has meant that the buzz generated has died down a little which has left some people wondering whether the METHODS are as good as they say. This is one occasion when you should believe the hype as they are definitely good enough to be challenging for bragging right with any offerings from the likes of Scotty Cameron, Ping or Odyssey. Having been in the bag for 2 majors, this is a club that performs as well as anything out there and the only question is; which METHOD do you want?