After stops in Hawaii and several events along West Coast, the PGA TOUR migrates across the country to kick off the Florida Swing in Palm Beach Gardens, FL at PGA National. Located just minutes from West Palm Beach and Jupiter, the Honda Classic boasts an impressively strong field, as this area is the Florida home to many of the Tour’s elite, including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
With the roars of Augusta now just a few weeks away, players look to solidify their game, mindset, and equipment ahead of the first major of the year. While athletes like Tiger and Rory opted to spend much of their practice time away from PGA National in the privacy of other country clubs, TaylorMade’s Tour Truck staff remained consistently busy as new build requests continued to pour in.
Since the recent launch of M3 and M4 drivers, we have seen rapid adoption of the new Twist Face technology. Now, it’s just a matter of dialing in the proper model, head size, and weight settings. There were several requests for M4 drivers as well as “M3 Big” and “M3 Small,” which the Tour staff affectionately nicknames M3 460 and M3 440, respectively. However, one of the more nuanced adjustments players will be making to their equipment heading into The Masters will be their putters.
Throughout the 2018 PGA TOUR season, TaylorMade Tour putter guru Chris Trott has spent his days bouncing between the range, the truck, and the putting green, presenting players with a massive variety of spec and sightlines options for the hottest putter on Tour: Spider Tour Red.
“Trottie” always keeps a display of new Spider Tour putters along the practice green for players to test at their leisure. While the signature red putter and high-MOI design is the same across each build, it is apparent that players have a wide variety of sightline and spec preferences they can explore. There’s the classic small-slant hosel, no-sightline putter that was made famous by Jason Day. There’s a center-shafted, single-sightline option. There’s a double-bend, long triple-sightline. There’s an L-Neck, short triple-sightline. And there’s the “T-sightline” variety that was put on the map by Dustin Johnson when he had it in play earlier this year.
“The biggest challenge of getting a guy into Spider Tour is when he doesn't like mallets. However, we know that it's proven that the mallet can help improve a player's putting, so we will make adjustments to our existing Spider designs to make them suit the eye of the guys who prefer a blade. Take the new (midsize) T-line for example—that line is the same width of a blade, so that is something that we've found will help transition players from a more classically shaped putter into a larger mallet.”
- Chris Trott
There are nearly endless combinations of putters, shafts, grips, and sightlines to choose from. For Trottie, this presents an opportunity—and a challenge—to find the perfect combination for the best players in the world. Some players will come up and say exactly what they want. For others, it takes a bit of educated guesswork to create the perfect mallet. This week, Trottie had a particular game plan in store to begin the process of migrating athletes (staffers and non-staffers alike) into Spider Tour.
Although all of the putters were displayed on the putting green for anyone to try, most of the builds were precisely crafted with an individual player in mind. Utilizing video footage to estimate a players' specs, referencing past putters they’ve used to determine their preferred sightline style, and considering tips and chatter from around the practice area, Trottie was on the Tour Truck building custom putters without anyone knowing who they were designed for.
“If I'm able to help a guy add a Spider Tour putter, it's a similar sensation to when you see a guy add a new driver or metalwood that you built into his bag. You obviously want to do your best for TaylorMade, but on the same note, there's a responsibility to the players. When you can get a new putter into someone’s hands, they make a transition from another model or brand, and they begin winning with that putter, it's like a triple win for me as a Tour representative.”
There’s no question that Trottie is a master at his craft, but his process is also aided by the massive success Spider Tour Red has already had on worldwide Tours. Red is a high-contrasting color. Red stands out.
“Players come to us saying, "everyone holes with this putter, I need to give it a try." They can see that there are a lot of our putters out there because they're red and they are easily identifiable. Jason was such a great leader for us with showcasing that performance, because his Strokes Gained: Putting is just ridiculous. When people see that, they want a piece of it.
And then, when you put Spider Tour putters on launch monitors or tools like Blast technology, it's going to beat anything out there. That's why we've stuck to this model and we've stuck to this message—because we believe in it.”
Scroll down for a photo gallery from the 2018 Honda Classic, including Tiger and Rory’s 6:00 AM range session, new P730 irons in the bag of Martin Kaymer, and more.
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