Forget LeBron James—the real “decision” this week was Tiger Woods’ bombshell that he is switching from his trusty Scotty Cameron putter to the Nike Method 001 putter, at least for this week’s British Open, and possibly beyond.
Needless to say, there’s suddenly lot of buzz circulating around the Nike Method putter line, including considerable chatter about its features and benefits. Some of the chatter is accurate, but a lot of it is incomplete or downright erroneous.
On that note, PutterZone.com is inspired to give you the detailed lowdown on Tiger Woods’ new putter, the Nike Method 001 model.
When we first got our hands on the Nike Method 001 putter, we knew that it was built for Tiger Woods. For starters, it is very similar in shape and style to Woods’ Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter—but then again, so are a lot of putters (the design is a riff on the classic PING Anser).
But the real “tell” to us was the sight dot on the crown of the putter, which echoes the dot on Woods’ Cameron putter. Sight dots are rare at the retail level. The typical alignment aid on an Anser-style putter is not a sight dot, but a sightline along the flange. To us, the sight dot confirmed that this was a putter gunning for Tiger Woods’ attention.
The origins of the Nike Method 001 putter’s design are rooted, as mentioned, in the original Anser putter developed by PING founder Karsten Solheim. Legend has it that Solheim initially sketched his idea for the “answer” on the sleeve of a vinyl record album. The design featured a rear cavity with weight redistributed to the heel and toe, as well as an offset “plumber’s neck” hosel. At the suggestion of his wife, he removed the ‘w’ from “answer” because the full word was too tight of a fit.
Today, the Anser is the most-copied design in the putter market, a testament to its timeless genius. The Scotty Cameron Newport 2 and Nike Method 001 feature sharper corners and bevels compared to the classic Anser design, but they definitely belong to the extended Anser family.
It makes sense that Woods, if he was going to make a putter switch, would stay in his visual comfort zone—which is exactly what the 001 offers. He is seeking an edge, but he’s not going to dive off the cliff into some crazy oversized mallet, either.
The core feature of the Nike Method line is its “polymetal” face groove technology. This technology combines milled steel with polymer, as seen in the distinctive black polymer pattern on the face.
The polymer is “ported” through the sole, creating a solid polymer layer behind the face, through which the groove pattern is extruded (see the black line along the sole in the above photo; that is the entry point of the polymer). These polymer grooves, when striking the ball, give way to secondary steel grooves that aim to ensure “controlled forward roll.” Meanwhile, the polymer layer also aims to dampen vibration upon impact.
The ported polymer design also allows for 30 grams of head weight to be redistributed from the front and center to the rear perimeters of the putter for enhanced Moment of Inertia (MOI). In simple terms, MOI is the measurement of a putter’s head weight properties. The higher the MOI, the more resistant the putter is to twisting and turning on miss-hits, resulting in added forgiveness and improved consistency.
What It Means
So what does it all mean to Tiger’s (and your) game? We recently visited the Nike Golf tour van at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where we got added insight into the Method’s polymetal groove technology.
There, Nike representative Rob Burbick shared the story of one PGA Tour professional who, before trying the Method putter, asked for the loft to be bent from the stock loft of 2.5 degrees to four degrees (to match the pro’s existing putter). But he was persuaded to roll some balls first under the watchful eye of a high-speed camera, which revealed that he was achieving the same launch angle with less loft while reducing ball skid from four inches to one inch.
Reports confirm that Woods’ Method putter features the same stock loft of 2.5 degrees, which is one degree lower than the loft of his Cameron putter.
It’s no secret that most grooved putters feature lower lofts, to ensure that the ball gets rolling quickly (and to thus enhance the intended efficacy of the grooves). A potential issue with a lower loft, however, is that it can drive the ball into the ground, especially on softer greens, causing the ball to bounce toward the target. Conversely, too much loft for the playing conditions can result in the ball being launched and skidding toward the target. When the loft and launch angle are optimized, the ball will achieve quick topspin and true forward roll for improved consistency and accuracy.
And therein lies the core benefit of the Method putter, according to Nike Golf. The lower loft gets the ball rolling quickly, but the rebounding qualities of the polymer elevate the launch angle. Most grooved putters with lower lofts, Burbick said, “sacrifice launch angle to achieve quicker forward roll.” But with the Method, he said, “we get correct launch and faster roll. We get both.”
A side note to the polymetal groove technology is the fact that the Method putter is milled from a block of stainless steel. Most putters are produced by one of two processes: casting or milling. Milling is the process of cutting the head from a block of metal, while casting is the process of pouring molten metal into a mold. Milling is considered to be superior to casting, as milled putters are prized for having better feel and higher quality compared to cast putters. The milling process and base materials are more costly than casting, hence the heftier price tags on milled putters (the Method sells for $249).
So there you have it, Tiger Woods’ Nike Method putter explained. Now the question is, how will it perform for him at St. Andrews? Regardless, it’s shaping up to be nothing less than the biggest putter drama in the history of golf.
P.S. Check out PutterZone.com’s Putter Buyer’s Guide for crucial insights into putter fitting basics, and how the right fit can shave strokes off your score.