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Yamada Putter Review

Billed as an “eccentric putter craftsman,” Tohru Yamada has been making putters since 1986, a vocation originally inspired by the workmanship of a T.P. Mills putter that he had purchased for himself.
After producing putters for other big-name companies, he set out on his own a few years ago, launching Yamada Milled Putters. Yamada may not be a household name in the United States, but his putters have enjoyed success on professional tours across the world.

Do Yamada’s Limited Edition models ($425) live up to their lofty price tag? Following is PutterZone.com’s Yamada putter review, specifically the Samurai Limited Edition model in a “burning copper” finish.

The Storyline
Yamada offers two tiers of putters: Yamada Limited Edition and the Yamada 2011 Series ($299). All of the putters are precision milled in Japan from “zero tolerance” carbon steel. The Yamada Limited Edition putters such as the Samurai, however, present more options in terms of shaping, finish and fitting.

The putter models are also colorfully named and feature eloquent supporting storylines. For example, for the Samurai model, the company writes: “The concept of a Samurai as opposed to that of a knight, has led to a major gap in how a warrior or a hero is characterized throughout the world. A Samurai does not have to be tall and heavily muscled to be strong. Also equating size with power and strength does not readily appeal to the Japanese aesthetic.”

Accordingly, the Samurai is a heel-toe weighted blade that doesn’t veer into the heavier, bulkier territory of many modern putters. According to the company, “The Samurai is milled from the finest carbon steel giving it the unique feel you only get with a genuine limited-edition handmade Yamada putter.”

The putter is available in two finishes: burning copper (pictured above) and smoked charcoal (pictured below). The standard loft is four degrees, the lie angle is 71 degrees and the head comes in three available weights: 335, 340 and 345 grams.

The View from PutterZone.com
While Yamada Milled Putters appears to be fairly well established, I was, I must confess, unaware of the company until recently. How did this little gem of a brand elude my editorial radar for so long?

The Yamada Samurai with the “burning copper” finish is a beauty to behold. With exposure to the elements, this finish matures from a bright copper color to a darker, richer patina. At the same time, it doesn’t require the maintenance of raw carbon steel, so you get the cool effect of the weathering without the hassle (note, the picture accompanying this paragraph is the Samurai in the charcoal finish, not the burning copper).

There is nothing particularly groundbreaking about the general design of the Yamada Samurai, which follows in the familiar Anser-style vein with its heel-toe weighting and crank-neck hosel. Yet there are also some artful touches that set it apart from the pack—such as curvaceous beveling, softly rounded rear corners and an elegantly scooped upper flange. The white sight dot on the crown instead of the typical sightline is a nice flourish, too.

Another thoughtful attribute is the textured quality of the putter’s milled surfaces. Indeed, in an era where so many high-end putters are models of smooth, unblemished, CNC-orchestrated perfection, the Yamada Samurai offers an attractively grittier ambiance. For example, the rear bumpers are scored with rough grooves, while the cavity exhibits the imperfect nuances that you might associate with a much-used penny. A lot of putters lay claim to being handcrafted, but this putter actually looks the part.

The engravings are elegantly understated on the sole and cavity, showing the Yamada name and icon, with the words “Handmade by T. Yamada” scripted along the sole as well. The face has a more pronounced Yamada Milled logotype along the heel side.

The feel and performance of the Yamada Samurai are spot-on for a putter of this price point. The sweet spot is smooth and plump, and the audio feedback is distinguished by a subtle crispness. The putter sets up beautifully, with the scooped upper flange providing a visual embrace of the ball.

The Yamada Samurai putter comes with a high-end leather Gripmaster grip whose burnt orange hue nicely complements the coppery color of the head. The leather offers a distinctive tactile experience—the texture is soft and smooth, but there’s a baseball-like seam along the back that helps anchor the fingers.

The included head cover is white with orange embroidery and lining and a Velcro closure. At this price point, I would have hoped for a more substantial cover with a magnetic closure, but the killer grip makes up for it.

So, should you pay $425 for this putter? That’s a tough question for any putter in that price range. There’s no question that, with the Yamada Samurai, you’re paying a premium for something more ineffable and alluring than mere performance. You’re paying for luxury, uniqueness and what I might call “bad-assness”—and I think that you can make a case for these things being collectively worth the splurge.

The Bottom Line
The Yamada Samurai putter doesn’t disappoint in matters of feel and performance. The design of the Yamada Samurai putter exhibits grace and thoughtfulness, and the burning copper finish is distinctively gorgeous. Mr. Yamada has positioned himself among the ranks of the elite putter craftsmen.

About Sean Weir

Sean Weir is the founder and editor of PutterZone.com, and the author of Putter Perfection, the definitive guide to putter fitting. Profile: Google+

No comments

  1. Great write up on a very interesting putter.

  2. Thanks, JB!

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