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Nike Putters at Pebble Beach

In a PGA Tour equipment van, you can always expect to see what’s new. Often, you will also see what’s next, the putters that will hit the retail shelves in the months ahead.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll see what you can’t have—the custom sticks that are the sole province of the tour pros.

On that note, we continue our coverage from the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, reporting from the Nike tour van.

As at previous tournaments, Nike’s Rob Burbick meets us with a ready smile and another hair color. Today, it’s bleached white and pointed due north. Needless to say, Rob is hard to miss on tour and in the Nike commercials that feature “The Oven,” the company’s golf testing lab in Texas.

We ask Burbick about some of the custom putters that they’ve produced recently. He pulls out a prototype created for Paul Casey. At first glance, from behind and above, it looks like the original Nike Method 001 putter (though without the bumper designs). But when you turn it around, it has the insert from the Core Method line. In other words, it’s a hybridized Method that bridges the original and Core Method putters. There’s also no sightline or sight dot, just as Casey likes it.

Another custom golf putter is a Nike Core Method 4i developed for Francesco Molinari (pictured above from top view). It looks a lot like the standard 4i, but then you notice that the butterfly-like flange has been filled in, so that the rear is perfectly convex. The weld is perfect, as there’s not a hair of visual evidence that this putter has been appended. “Our guys are pretty good,” Burbick says.

But not everything coming out of the van is a prototype. The Nike Core Drone putter and new Nike Concept putter are two large retail mallets designed to offer forgiveness and stability. Burbick also says that he’s seen no sign of an abatement in belly putter interest on tour. “Many players who historically wouldn’t consider it are considering it now,” he says.

It’s always fun to peek inside the tour toybox and seen what’s being created. It’s an “ask and you shall receive” world for the tour professionals. The rest of us can’t, and don’t need to be, quite so picky.

But there’s a lesson for all of us in these customized clubs, and a reason why the pros are so fanatical about finding the right fit: no matter what your skill level, a better fit will produce better results on the green.

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+

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