TaylorMade continues to spin its web of Spider putters with the addition of the new Rossa Monza Spider Balero putter, the third putter in the Spider line.
But don’t expect more of the same, because this Spider comes with a whole new set of features, as well as a new price tag ($159) that beats its two predecessors by $40.
Is the Balero a worthy successor to the Spider throne? Following is PutterZone.com’s TaylorMade Spider Balero putter review. This review also inaugurates the new PutterZone.com video review series, as shown below.
The original Spider made quite a splash on the PGA Tour as well the recreational circuits when it was unveiled in early 2008. Later that year, TaylorMade introduced the Itsy Bitsy Spider, a diminutive offspring of the original. Aside from its smaller size and a few tweaks on the alignment front, the Itsy Bitsy Spider was a virtual replica of its predecessor.
Now comes the Balero, which is clearly more of a cousin than a sibling to the original Spider putters. This is a sleeker Spider with a new alignment feature as well as a new face insert.
The new alignment feature is called “ball in cup,” and it consists of a ball-shaped cutout in the sole that is enclosed in a semicircle that visually mimics the cup. A white sightline traverses the crown from the center of the “cup” to the center of the face.
According to TaylorMade, this feature “provides a visual cue that makes it incredibly simple to line up the clubface with the intended line…At address, the image of the ball resting in front of the clubface works in conjunction with the white line on the Balero’s crown and the round hole through the back to help simplify the act of starting the ball rolling on the exact line you’ve chosen.”
Another major distinction between the Balero and earlier Spider models is the new polymer AGSI-s grooved face insert (the “s” stands for soft).
Oddly, as of the writing of this review, the Balero page on the TaylorMade web site still erroneously references the AGSI+ insert found on earlier Spider models. The Balero’s new AGSI-s insert is made entirely of polymer, in contrast to the Titallium-polymer multimaterial composition of the AGSI+ insert, resulting in an entirely different feel.
The loft of the Balero is 2.5 degrees and the lie angle is 70 degrees. It comes in both right and left-handed models at lengths of 34 and 35 inches.
The View from PutterZone.com
I never thought I’d say this about a Spider putter, but I love the look of the Balero at address.
Simply put, the Balero boasts a visual harmony that the earlier Spider models lacked. It’s not visually “quiet” by any stretch of the imagination, but the presentation is nevertheless seamless and graceful.
The “ball in cup” alignment feature brilliantly mirrors the intended target, especially on shorter putts with minimal break, where you can easily envision a line running from the cup-sized semicircle to the center of the cup itself.
However, the “ball in cup” feature is ultimately more suggestive than overt, so it doesn’t crowd the eyes or cause overthinking at address. The overall effect is a subliminal sense of visual purpose.
The Balero is also a low rider, as its face is a full eighth of an inch shorter than the earlier Spiders (and most other putters, for that matter) from sole to topline. This gives the putter a lean, mean profile that I personally find appealing.
In terms of feel, the super-soft AGSI-s insert is radical departure from the AGSI+ insert found on the earlier Spider putters. This new insert is what I might call a “poker face,” as it doesn’t have much to say about miss-hits. Some golfers will love the reassuring consistency of the Balero’s feel, while others might find it to be a bit lacking in the feedback department.
The Balero could be viewed as a downscaled iteration of the earlier Spider putters. The new AGSI-s insert lacks the sophistication of the AGSI+ insert, and the detail work (ie: paintfill) lacks the sharpness found on the pricier TaylorMade models.
However, the Balero boasts its own unique advantages, particularly in matters of alignment. And at $159, the Balero hits an economic sweet spot and ultimately offers considerable bang for the buck. As an added bonus, the included head cover outclasses the putter’s price point with high-quality construction and a magnetic closure.
The Bottom Line
The TaylorMade Spider Balero Putter hits a home run in the alignment department, artfully integrating a complex design into a seamless presentation and a strong sense of purpose. The new AGSI-sinsert will appeal to golfers who prefer a soft, supple feel off the face. Rather than rest on the laurels of its predecessors, this Spider putter offers a fresh new look at a favorable price.
P.S. Check out PutterZone.com’s Facebook page for a photo gallery comparing the original Spider putters to the Balero. Also, you can subscribe to PutterZone.com’s new YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/PutterZoneDotCom.