After several years marked by minimal output, Never Compromise is back in a big way with a new line of ultra-premium putters for 2011.
With its new Gambler Limited putters ($299), Never Compromise is clearly betting big on a category—the classic one-piece milled putter category—from which several other companies are currently retreating.
In this context, the “Gambler” motif seems particularly fitting, because it appears that Never Compromise is pushing all of its chips to the center of the table with these putters.
Does Never Compromise know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em? Following is PutterZone.com’s Never Compromise Gambler putter review, with a focus on the Gambler Royal model.
The Gambler Limited putters aren’t simply the first high-end putters released by Never Compromise in more than four years—they are, in effect, a reinvention of the brand itself, and they are poised to return Never Compromise to its roots as an elite putter maker.
As Never Compromise’s Adam Sheldon recently told PutterZone.com, “We were inspired by the brand name itself—Never Compromise—to offer a product line in the high-end market. This direction gives golfers exactly what the name stands for, specifically a product that seeks perfection, and a product that does not compromise on quality. And our goal is simple: to make each putter a masterpiece.”
Sheldon added, “The Gambler theme was a way for us to bring some fun, creativity and uniqueness to the market.”
On that note, Never Compromise is going all out on the stylistic attributes of the Gambler Limited putters, each of which enjoys its own individualized design riff on the colorful imagery of a deck of cards.
Additionally, come February, Never Compromise will offer golfers the opportunity to trick out their Gambler putter with numerous personalization options, including custom paint fills, stampings and more.
The Gambler Limited putters are forged from 303 stainless steel, then CNC milled and finally hand polished. According to Sheldon, “The forging process produces greater consistency and quality in the metal, which ultimately enhances feel…I have worked one-on-one with some of the best players, refining shapes and sometimes making limited-quantity product for tour use only. I wanted to share some of that product with the consumer.”
There are four models in the Never Compromise Gambler Limited series: (1) the Gambler Royal putter, a heel-toe weighted blade with a crank neck hosel; (2) the Gambler Straight putter, a face-balanced mallet with a double-bend neck; (3) the Gambler Boat putter, a Zing-style, toe-down blade with a crank neck hosel; and (4) the Gambler Flush putter, a toe-down mid mallet.
The head weight of the blades is 340 grams, with the mallets weighing 350 grams. The standard loft on each putter is three degrees, while the lie angle is 70 degrees.
Prior to getting my hands on the Never Compromise Gambler Limited putters, I enjoyed a sneak peek at the early promotional photos, and what I saw was so unexpectedly cool that I nearly fell out of my chair.
Needless to say, I had very high expectations for these putters, and I can now report that they didn’t disappoint when I finally got my hands on them.
Indeed, the Gambler Limited putters are beautifully rendered, with a perfect balance of class and whimsy. Better yet, they deliver superior feel with performance to match.
I am focusing this review on the Gambler Royal putter, because that’s the model I’ve spent the most time with on the practice green and golf course. But I’ve been fortunate enough to give all four models a spin, and I can confirm that the other three are equals of the Royal in feel, performance and looks.
Every time I pull the cover off the Royal, it puts a smile on my face with the engraved dancing spades that cascade across the brightly polished sole. The look is luxurious yet playful, with just the right amount of both. Another stylish touch is the vertical engraving of the heart, spade, club and diamond shapes along the front and rear of the hosel in alternating black and red.
Meanwhile, the new Never Compromise “NC” logo is efficient enough to be relatively unobtrusive despite being visible on the face, sole and cavity. An elegant swirling pattern is gently milled across the face. The bumpers are boldly stamped with “Forged” on the heel side and “Royal” on the toe end. The stepped flange and sharp cornering give the head a decidedly sleek look, particularly from the rear view.
It’s safe to say that the Gambler putters are going to open some wallets on looks alone—and that’s before we’ve seen the full suite of customization options that Never Compromise promises to offer on the Gambler Limited putters starting in February.
I must admit that I’m personally a sucker for the whole retro-cool vibe of the Gambler motif. After all who doesn’t want Lady Luck on his or her side when approaching that crucial putt?
Am I making too much of the aesthetics of these putters? Perhaps. But let’s face it, a $300 putter is a luxury product that should put a smile on your face in addition to offering superior quality and performance. The all-milled putter category has become a bit stylistically sedate over the years. In that context, Never Compromise is serving notice with these putters, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see others step up their creative game as a result.
On the performance front, the feel of the Gambler Royal is as gorgeous as the putter itself. I would describe it as pliant and plump, with a crisp resonance in the hands and ears for sophisticated feedback. As such, it deftly splits the difference between firm and soft, with a good dollop of both. It’s worth noting that if you prefer a super-soft feel in your putter, you may want to look elsewhere.
Anecdotally, I’ve enjoyed great results with the Gambler Royal. It gives me a consistent roll with reliable distance control, and it just seems to fit my game like a glove. Part of my results could be related to the fact that I really like practicing with this putter, because the sweet spot is so rewarding, and because I simply enjoy its attractive company.
There’s nothing particularly special or out-of-the-box about the upper profile of the putter, but it certainly looks sufficiently sharp and confident at address. The offset is full, and the shaft doesn’t lean in either direction, which keeps the optical presentation on the straight and narrow.
The white Gambler Limited head cover is a joy to behold, with the playing card symbols embroidered on one side and the Gambler Limited logo on the other. The playing card symbols are also subtly imprinted along the underside of the cover. It gives off a retro Vegas vibe that just looks smooth sticking out of the bag. My only quibble is that I would have preferred a magnetic closure to the Velcro closure.
I find the use of the Winn AVS as the stock grip to be a bit uninspired. The Winn AVS is a rather commonplace grip, and is often found on less expensive putters. The good news is that the grip is easy to replace, and I personally think that a white Iomic grip would look utterly righteous as a perfect complement to the white head cover.
The Bottom Line
The Never Compromise Gambler Royal putter hits the jackpot in matters of both style and substance. The feel of the putter is magnificent, offering vivid feedback for enhanced performance. Better yet, it is simply one of the coolest looking sticks on the market. If you are looking for the total package in a putter, you can’t go wrong with Gambler Royal or other Gambler models.