When word leaked a few months ago that Nike Golf was poised to release a series of all-green putters, the news was met with some skepticism. When photos of the new putters started circulating, the skepticism mounted. Let’s just say that the traditionalists weren’t jumping for joy.
The IC putter, however, isn’t merely a radical fashion statement. Rather, it’s an outgrowth of optical engineering by the folks at Nike Golf. So, will the Nike IC putter make you green around the gills, or will it make your friends green with envy?
Following is PutterZone.com’s review of the Nike IC 2010 blade putter ($139), one of five models in the new IC series.
In a recent article about Nike Golf, Golfweek Magazine documented the company’s unapologetic pursuit of the cutting edge: “Undaunted, the company continues to push one unconventional creation after another, which some purists describe as an affront to their golf sensibilities.”
As far as such affronts go, the all-green IC putter might be Nike Golf’s biggest yet, judging by some of the knee-jerk jeers that accompanied its arrival.
According to Nike Golf, however, there’s a method to their alleged madness: “With the putter’s head and shaft color blending into the background of the putting green, the Nike IC Putter eliminates ‘visual noise’ and mutes the areas of the club that aren’t critical. Instead, the eyes are focused on what is critical—alignment.”
Playing on the words “I See,” the IC Putter was developed by Nike Golf in collaboration with Dr. Alan W. Reichow, the global research director of Vision and Science for Nike, Inc., and Tom Stites, director of club creation for Nike Golf.
In the words of Nike Golf: “After much testing, they meticulously came up with the white, triangular shape alignment aid that is a key feature of the Nike IC Putter. The optically engineered alignment aid helps square the face in relation to the hole and starts putts on the line.”
Additionally, says Nike Golf, “The face of the Nike IC Putter is milled to precise tolerances to enhance accuracy, predictability and distance control across the putter face. With a high moment of inertia (MOI), the head is stabilized throughout the stroke and at impact for greater confidence and improved accuracy.”
In terms of pricing, the IC putters are positioned between Nike’s value-priced Ignite putters and high-end Unitized putters.
The View from PutterZone.com
I don’t belong to the anti-Nike camp. I can’t help but admire the company as a force of sports nature and I count a few of their products among my favorite golfing gear. This doesn’t mean that I’m a fan of everything that Nike Golf produces (I’m not impressed by the Ignite putters, for example), but it does mean that I will take an unbiased view of the company’s products. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
On that note, I am happy to report that the IC putter is not the first sign of the Golfing Apocalypse. In fact, it’s a pretty slick instrument that, while a bit alien in appearance, is quite effective in matters of performance.
The first thing I noticed about the IC putter is that it looks more sophisticated in person than in its product photos, which somehow make the putter look a bit drab. The green hue—which is seamless from the head through the grip, including the entire shaft—is rather rich and calm. The milled face, which looks white in the photos, is actually metallic silver.
As for the optical concept itself, it would be impossible for me to prove or disprove its efficacy. There’s certainly merit in the concept of minimizing visual noise, however. I’ve commented before about how certain putters can be distracting at address because they’re overloaded with bevels, cuts, decorations or other noisy flourishes. Thus, by achieving visual calmness and blending in with the putting green, the IC design certainly won’t hurt, and very well might help the average golfer.
More importantly, the IC blade simply rolls a beautiful ball. The putter has a nice heft and feels quite balanced, which aids smoothness in the stroke. The sweet spot is small but supple, providing ample reward for precision and consistency. On miss-hits, the metal face can yield quite a clang, but I don’t have a problem with that—it just makes me really focus on consistently finding that sweet spot.
If you’re a fan of spongy insert putters, the IC might rattle your cage. But if you enjoy the firmness of metal, you will appreciate this putter’s substantive feedback. Also, while the IC blade can sound and feel punitive on miss-hits, it’s actually fairly forgiving in terms of where the ball ends up.
I do have a few quibbles with the peripherals of the IC 2010 blade putter. The grip has a light green design flourish that wraps around the back, and this flourish is much slicker than the rest of the grip, which creates a tactile dissonance that will be amplified during the summer months, when sweat becomes more of an issue. Also, the headcover is a bit flimsy and not up to the standard of the rest of the putter.
In parting, the IC 2010 blade earns points simply for being one of the most unusual putters among the many here at PutterZone.com headquarters. People gripe about Nike being a big corporate global brand that’s allegedly all about marketing, then complain when the company doesn’t play it safe and produces products with inherent marketing challenges, such as an all-green putter. I’m not saying that the IC putter is a total home run, but I appreciate the fact that Nike Golf is swinging for the fences instead of simply trying to put the ball in play.
The Bottom Line
The IC 2010 blade putter will earn converts among edgier souls who don’t mind standing out from the crowd, and who seek an effective putter at a nice price. The IC 2010 particularly appeals to those suffer from focusing issues when addressing the ball, as it minimizes visual distraction and can therefore enhance concentration. As a daring design with a scientific purpose, the IC 2010 blade putter ultimately hits the mark.