For the better part of 2009, Nike Golf had a putter bun in “The Oven”—which is the nickname for the company’s secretive research and development facility in Texas.
After about three trimesters—during which the mysterious putter was splashed across television screens in the hands of several PGA Tour professionals—Nike’s new baby was revealed to the world in August as the Method putter. It was perhaps the longest public pregnancy in putter history.
Now, after the release of a limited-edition Method putter in late 2009, the main Method line is set for official retail release later this month for a street price of $249.
So is there a Method to Nike’s madness? Can the Swoosh compete in rarefied air of the premium putter price range? Following is PutterZone.com’s Nike Method putter review, specifically the 001 and 004 models.
By the time the Nike Method putter was officially unveiled in August, it had already notched two major tournament victories in the hands of Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink. Talk about a hot start.
The Method putter features a“polymetal” face groove technology that combines milled steel with polymer, as evident in the distinctive black polymer pattern on the face. The polymer is actually “ported,” meaning that there is a solid polymer layer behind the face, through which the groove pattern is extruded (see photo below, where the bottom of polymer layer is revealed along the front sole).
The ported polymer design allows for 30 grams of internal weight to be redistributed from the front and center to the rear perimeters of the putter for enhanced MOI. The polymer layer also aims to dampen vibration upon impact. Meanwhile, the polymer grooves are designed to give way to secondary steel grooves for “controlled forward roll.”
Each Method putter is milled from 303 stainless steel. The line consists of five models: Method 001 (classic blade), Method 002 (heel-shafted blade), Method 003 (heel-shafted mid mallet), Method 004 (face-balanced blade), Nike Method 005 putter (face-balanced mid mallet).
PutterZone.com had the opportunity to test drive the 001 and 004 models. Both feature 343-gram heads with a loft of two degrees and a lie angle of 71 degrees.
The View from PutterZone.com
If you want to start an argument, just go on any golf equipment forum and mention Nike putters. Some folks are just convinced that Nike is incapable of making a great putter, and many of them are stridently vocal about it.
Well, I’ve got bad news for the Nike haters. With the Method putter, the mighty Swoosh has a winner on its hands. Simply put, the Method putter is a technological knockout, one that vividly walks its performance talk.
The feel of the Method putter is phenomenal. It’s softer than an all-metal face, but I wouldn’t call it soft, because that can imply “squishy.” Rather, I would say that the feel of the Method is almost airy or ephemeral, if that makes any sense.
Indeed, there are times when it seems as if the putter head is moving through the ball rather than striking it. You still get nice click in the hands and ears, but there is very little tactile resistance on the sweet spot (particularly on the 004 model for some reason). The result is a very sensual putter that promotes a fluid, unflinching stroke.
The roll of the ball seems especially tight off the face of the Method putter, with the white orb hugging the turf in a gorgeous topspin. Is it the grooves? I can’t say, but I don’t have any other explanation. All I know is that the Method excels in matters accuracy and distance control, at least in my hands, and much of that has to do with the crisp roll off the face.
On the Anser-style 001 model, I love the use of a single sight dot on the crown as opposed to the more common sightline on the flange. The topline of the 001 is narrow, and the center flange is only slightly stepped. The result is a putter that appears very clean, confident and visually quiet at address. It’s what I would call a badass putter, in a good way.
Meanwhile, the 004 model features three parallel sightlines along an extended flange. The topline is beefier than the 001, and the double-bend neck brings a hint of shaft kickback. While the 004 model is heel shafted, it is indeed face balanced, as the shaft angle intersects the center of gravity.
The included head cover looks sharp in black with silver and red piping, and it features a sweet magnetic strip closure (hooray, Nike!). I’m not blown away by the Golf Pride grip, but it certainly looks sharp in vivid red with black and white accents.
Cosmetically speaking, head of the Method putter leaves me a bit wanting. For the price, I would just like to see a little more artistry incorporated into the presentation. The paintfill choices are uninspired, the finish work is ho-hum, and the only attempt at true adornment—the little pyramid patterns milled into the bumpers—seems halfhearted.
But I am nitpicking here. Overall, the look of the Method is solid enough, especially on the business ends of the putter (the top view and face). And the putter sure looks beautiful when the ball rolls tightly off the face and into the hole.
The Bottom Line
Nike Golf is now officially a force to be reckoned with on the premium putter front. The Method putter is a significant technological achievement that produces real results in terms of feel and roll. With two major championships already on its resume, the Nike Method putter should be a smash hit in the hands of recreational golfers as well.
For more photos of the Method putters, visit PutterZone.com’s Facebook page (and become a Fan while you’re at it).