Heading into the weekend at the Chevron World Challenge, Tiger Woods is playing his best tournament golf in more than a year, and he’s doing it with a new putter—the Nike Method 003 mid mallet.
Needless to say, interest in Tiger Woods’ new putter is soaring, and since we’ve been following Woods’ putter saga since the British open, it now behooves us to take a closer look at the Nike Method 003 putter and what it means to Woods’ game.
The backstory is that Woods wielded the same Scotty Cameron Newport 2 blade for more than a decade, a period during which he won nearly all of his major tournaments. But at this year’s British Open, Woods switched to the Nike Method 001 putter, citing the slow greens at St. Andrews. Click here for PutterZone.com’s earlier story on why the Method technology can be perceived as a good fit for slower greens.
Woods famously switched back to the Cameron halfway through the British Open, and that was allegedly the end of the story. That is, until Woods broke out the Nike Method 003 putter at the Australian Masters last week, again citing slow greens.
Many assumed that he would switch back to his trusty Cameron upon returning to the not-so-slow greens at the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, California. Yet not only did he stick with the Method 003, he’s been on fire with it over the past two days.
Apparently, we can put to rest the absurd notion that Tiger was simply toying around with the Method putter to give Nike some free publicity in gratitude for the company’s loyalty to him throughout his recent troubles. And we can also conclude that there’s more madness to his Method than “slow greens.”
In fact, Woods tipped his hand the other day by noting that the Nike Method 003 helps him release the blade through the ball.
This would more plainly explain why he’s not using the Method 001, which is nearly a replica in shape and balance of his Cameron putter. If it was simply a matter of green speed, the Nike Method 001 putter would certainly suffice.
But what Woods now seems to be seeking is a sensation of more toe weight, as rendered by the Method 003’s heel-shafted design. When a putter is shafted directly at the heel, it has a balance with more “toe hang,” and putters with toe hang favor an arcing putter stroke (as opposed to straight back and straight through). Click here for more information on putter balance and its relation to the stroke.
So when Woods talks about the Method 003 helping him release the putter head, it means that he wants to feel more rotation of the head through impact, to ensure that he doesn’t block the ball or otherwise get “stuck.”
Our conclusion is that Woods is aiming to recapture his natural stroke. He’s been fighting his putter all year, and his putting mojo got lost along the way. So for now he has switched to a putter with a difference balance, one that offers more rotational force through the ball.
The thinking behind this can, in fact, be found in the instructional book that Woods published 10 years ago, in which he wrote: “Some players are so desperate to avoid pushes and pulls that they shove the putter head down the target line, keeping the club face dead square from start to finish. It’s a very unnatural action. It doesn’t do much to provide square contact, and it’s almost impossible to impart the right speed consistently.”
It reminds us of the old cliché: the more things change, the more they stay the same.