Anyone who has attended a recent PGA Tour event and wandered over the the putting green will have seen TaylorMade’s most recent, and most eye-catching, addition to their putter line up. The Ghost range of putters has found huge success on all Tours, an achievement considering the putter is the least changed club in the bag.
The bright white Ghost putters stand out against the grey, oil-can or black competition in exactly the way they were designed. Here why from Dr. Hitzeman (a past president of the Indiana Optometric Association and a past chairman of the American Optometric Association’s Sports Vision Section), “Corza Ghost’s white putter head stands out so clearly against its background — the putting surface – because of the high contrast between white and green. That high contrast maximises stimulation to the retina and highlights the head’s shape and features. The contrast would be lower if the putter was black or gray because these colours are closer in luminance to the colour of the putting green than white. White creates the biggest difference in luminance, hence maximising contrast and promoting focus”. Added to this is the acclaimed AGSI+ face insert. The grooves in the insert sees the ball come of the face with less backspin than a standard milled face ensuring a smoother and truer roll.
Now we are used to hearing that every increment in golfing technology is a revolution but it is far more often a case of evolution. TaylorMade have been very vocal on how important the white colour is, so we spend a few weeks with one of these putters so see how the claims panned out.
|4.0||70.0||33, 34, 35||3/4 shaft||Yes|
When the first pictures came out, no one was falling over themselves to say it was beautiful. It wasn’t in the super ugly “cattle brand” category like so many of the form over function putters but a bright white putter, with a matt finish, and a mallet one at that is too different from the classical Anser types to really excite the masses. In person, the double bend shaft lets the head sit beautifully behind the ball and the head is just the right size. Whether you use the front of the putter, the triple lines on the top or the hole at the back of the putter, whatever your preference it makes for easy alignment. The matt finish also prevents any glare which is-surprising for a white putter. Underneath you can see the metal inserts in the heel and toe region. The headcover is top notch and the magnetic closure makes it easy to remove and put back on.
So does the colour make a difference to the performance? Absolutely it does. Looking down at the putter head at address, all the alignment features are more prominent that usual but the real difference is when you make your putt. As anyone who took biology in school knows, the human eye experiences a strange effect when we see a bright image; the image continues to be seen even after it is no longer present. This is what allows us to see television as a continuous moving image rather than a series of flickering still images. The technical terms for the image seen after the original has gone is called an afterimage or ghost image. If you thought that the name referred to just the colour then you are wrong. As the the putter moves across your field of vision it leaves a clear afterimage. This afterimage provides a massive amount of visual feedback as you can see where the putter is at any time and the more information you have, the more likely you are to make a good putt.
Now to how the ball comes off the face. First off, the Rossa Corsa is an excellent putter whatever colour it is. The contact off the face is excellent and as anyone who has used an AGSI+ insert will attest, the ball really does get rolling quicker. Like most face balanced putters it excels on short putts and the heel and toe weighting make it very forgiving for those off-centre hits. The roll off the face is pure and since it’s a cinch to aim, the ball goes exactly where you want it. Distance control with groove faced putters can sometimes take a bit of getting used to. The extra forward roll can be deceiving, especially on shorter putts but when putting with the Ghost distance control seemed to be practically telepathic. One of the rounds with this putter was at one of the best courses in the UK. The famously fast and undulating greens at The Groove throws all the putts you don’t want – it didn’t matter whether the putt was a tricky downhiller, a long lag through a double break or a testing 3 footer. The Ghost looked great behind the ball, lined up beautifully, sent the ball off on the line you wanted and the distance you needed.
The Rossa Corsa Ghost is one hell of a good putter. The balance, the grooved face insert, the great distance control and the easy of alignment combine to make something really quite special. It has helped TaylorMade’s cause that one of the hottest golfers in the world right now is using this putter. Not only has Justin Rose recently finished 1st, tied 9th and 1st in 3 consecutive events but he has done so averaging only 28 putts per round which is even more impressive considering that driving and iron play are normally considered his strengths. But will this transfer to the average golfer? Well we will take anything that helps and given the importance of putting, this is one we strongly recommend that everyone has a go with.
WRX Spotlight: Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter
Product: Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter
Pitch: From Odyssey/Toulon: “The Odyssey Toulon San Diego Stroke Lab Putter is our take on on another classic putter. It’s an expertly crafted, premium milled blade, with our multi-material Stroke Lab Shaft, deep diamond milled cross hatch grooves, and a new Charcoal Smoke finish.”
Our take on the Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter
Toulon is the line of all milled putters from Odyssey, originally started by club designer Sean Toulon and his sons. Toulon putters have always featured their Deep Diamond Mill face, adjustable sole weight, and brazed (instead of welded) necks. That combination has created a great putter line that has become popular on tour as well as us amateur players. For 2019, there are some new head shapes, Charcoal Smoke Finish, Deep Diamond Milling across the whole face, and the Stroke Lab putter shaft.
I got my hands on the Toulon San Diego, a more squared-off blade shape, for this review. The shape, milling, and finish on the San Diego are great and really show off what a high quality piece it is. The biggest change visually is the full Deep Diamond Mill face, making the view from address more uniform. The face used to have the milling only in the center of the face and to some that was a distracting look while others liked the way it framed the ball. The new finish also looks great. I always have liked darker finishes and this looks high end while still reducing glare in the brightest conditions.
The Stroke Lab shaft goes well with the finish on the San Diego and the head cover is a plush synthetic leather that feels like it will hold up for years of use.
On the green the San Diego SL has a crisp sound and feel. If you like a little more click to your putter, then the San Diego SL will be right what you are looking for. And don’t take that as a negative thing, that crisp feel gives great feedback on face contact. You know exactly where the putter face and ball met by the sound and feel. The Deep Diamond Mill gets the ball rolling quickly on line with very minimal hop and skid, providing very consistent and repeatable distance control.
This is blade, so shots off the toe to tend to stray from your intended line a bit, the face does seem like it wants to rotate open a bit. Heel strikes defiantly stay online better, but tend to lose more steam and net get the roll out you might expect. The simple alignment line on the flange of the putter is easy to align, even for a guy who has been using mallets for years.
Like I have said before, I think there is something to the Stroke Lab tech, the lighter shaft and weight in the butt of the shaft do affect tempo for me; I noticed a slight calming of my backstroke and stroke through the ball.
Overall, the San Diego is a great putter for those who like a little firmer feel and more audible click on their putter. It is very responsive and putts a great roll on the ball. This isn’t a cheap putter ($450) and the fit and finish let you know that you are getting what you paid for.
- More photos of the Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter (and other Toulon Stroke Lab putters) in the forums.
WRX Spotlight Review: Miura MGP-NM1 Putter
Product: Miura MGP-NM1 putter
Pitch: Limited to 300 pieces, the Miura MGP-NM1 is Miura’s first 303 stainless steel putter. Its appearance is in keeping with the bolder designs of the Miura Giken family.
Our take on the Miura MGP-NM1 putter
Miura Giken has become the brand where Miura can push some limits and try out designs and technology not really fit for the standard Miura line. And if doing something new and different is what Miura Giken is about, then the MGP-NM1 fits like a glove. When most people think of Miura, they think forged carbon steel and traditional, old school shapes. The MGP-NM1 is a long ways from that, being milled from 303 stainless steel, having adjustable weights and milled stepped pockets in the sole.
If you love mill marks, then the MBG-NM1 will fulfill all our needs because the head is covered with them. I really liked the top line where the mill marks go front to back but then get much finer around the alignment line. If you look close the milling is still there, but just much finer. It works great along with the alignment lines on the “fangs.” The MGP-NM1 is a great size: large enough to give you confidence that a mishit will stay online, but not too big to be distracting. Like most putters with this (Odyssey No. 7) shape, it frames the ball really well and looks great to my eye. The way the shaft goes into the head is for sure unique, it is straight from address but does drop down into the head.
I will get my one con on this putter out of the way early: the way the shaft goes into the head from address. I love the shape of the head, but the way the shaft enters the head makes it harder for me to line up. At address you can see the the top line of the putter on both sides of the shaft and for some that might be helpful, but it took me a long time to get comfortable with my alignment. Also, the head cover isn’t up to standard for a putter in this price range.
But the good of this putter really outweighs that bad. The putter feels and sounds great, much like the Miura KM-009 reviewed previously. Feel is very solid with, to me, the perfect amount of click on impact. There might be just a slight bit of vibration on contact, but very minimal and will probably vary with the ball you play. Contact on the toe and heel really stay on target well; you can tell this mallet has a fairly high MOI. Like any responsive putter should do, this really provides good feedback on mishits. Toe and heel shots are not punished as much as you would think, the ball still rolls out well with minimal distance loss. That solid, soft Miura feel really does come through with this putter.
Overall, I think the Miura Giken MGP-NM1 is a really great way for a mallet user to put a Miura putter into the bag.
Review: Optic Z Putters
Pros: Point-and-shoot putting. Optic Z putters use a Z-neck design that can lead to a more consistent setup with your hands and eyes on every putt.
Cons: It could take a little while to get used to the design.
Who It’s For: Players looking to develop a consistent setup and stroke.
- Model: Optic Z8
- Head Weight: 365 grams
- Material: Proprietary “Power 51” Alloy
- Finish: Black “High-Tech Molecular” application
- Face Milling: Deep Double Mill
- Stock Lie: 70.5 degrees (rolled sole allows angles from 67 to 75)
- Loft: 2.25 degrees
- Stock Length Options: 35 inches (All lengths available custom order)
- Stock Grip: Lamkin E.B.L “Optic” grip (Custom grips available)
- Stock Shaft: True Temper Steel (Aerotech, Loomis, and UST available)
- Price: $325 Base (Up to $500 with custom options)
Over the past decade, it seems like there have been as many new putter companies as there have been drivers released in the past year (I think another one just released since I typed that sentence). While many of them have come up with ways to re-create or re-design the classic favorites of the past 40-plus years, there are a few companies that are pushing the boundaries of what a putter can be and how it can help make putting easier. And a company called Optic Z Putters has done just that.
I reviewed the company’s Optic Z8 putter, which has a distinct batwing shape. It’s one of three putters the company offers — its Z3 is more blade-like in shape, while its Z7 is more mallet-like — and each putter sells for $325.
According to the company, Z Optic putters take the two main parts of putting and making them easy to reproduce. And with every putt, Optic Z putters are said to help golfers set their hands and eyes in the same exact position for every putt. “This has been done!” you say? Well, let’s find out if my experience with the Z8 was different.
When I first saw the Z8 putter with its Z-shaped hosel, I began to wonder, “What exactly is going on here?” It has a unique Z-neck that creates a “3D” effect when looking down over the ball at address. But when looking at the putter in any other view, it does look odd. It will take a little bit of time to get used to it, but like many putters that come out these days, after a while you simply get used to it and forget about it.
The putter is 100 percent milled, U.S.A. made, and has a deep “double” milled face pattern that is familiar to most people. It offers an incredibly soft feel that is part from the milling, but also from the Proprietary Power 51 alloy metal that is used. The sole of the Z8 has 8 degrees of roll to it. This means that it can effectively play with a lie angle anywhere from 67 to 75 degrees. The new Z-neck hosel also makes the putter face balanced as if it was a center-shafted putter. And finally, there are several thick alignment lines, both horizontal and vertical, to help aim.
The Z Revolution?
Once you set the putter down and see how everything lines up in a “3D” type of alignment, you get the point of the Z-neck. Instead of just giving one point of reference similar to other putters, the Z8 gives you three points of alignment.
You align the Z-neck bend with the toe of the putter, the heel and shaft together, and then make sure both are lined up together. Once you have this set, your hands and eyes will be in the correct position.
In addition to adding more reference points, the key difference with the Z8 is that it actually requires you to have forward press with your hands. The stated loft of 2.25 degrees is the loft with your hands in that forward-press position. The Z-neck is also supposed to eliminate the visual moment of impact of when the ball comes off the face of the putter. The theory is that it helps you relax more through the stroke by not seeing the point of impact, a similar theory to looking at the hole instead of the ball when putting.
Does it work?
I was skeptical of the putter when I first started using it, and it took me a little bit to get used to the 3D effect. After spending a good amount of time with it, I can say that it does what it is supposed to do. It really becomes a “point-and-shoot” kind of putting, and it makes the set up of putting incredibly easy. The ball rolls really well off the face, too, and the feel is incredibly soft. The alignment aids do a good job helping at address, and I’m someone who has moved away from alignment aids because I tend to aim them incorrectly.
The Optic Z8 putter performed the best for me on putts inside 10 feet. I struggled on longer putts, but it was more due to the weight of the putter. At 365 grams, it is much heavier compared to what I’ve been using, but I’ve always struggled with long-distance putting with heavier putters. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the performance. And the more I used it, the more comfortable I became and the more putts I made.
If you struggle with consistency, especially at set up, this is one to try. It may take some time to get used to Optic Z putters, but most golfers should be able to adjust. These putters are well made, feel great and can truly help golfers in two areas that we know are important to putting.
To learn more about Optic Golf’s putters, visit the company’s website.
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