From an equipment perspective, Jason Day’s four-shot rout at THE PLAYERS Championship will go down as one of the most important victories of the 2015-16 PGA TOUR season.
Not only did it mark Day’s first win with a red TaylorMade Spider Tour putter — he first put it in play at RBC Heritage — it set in motion an equipment trend that turned the Aussie’s mallet into one of the most talked-about putters on TOUR.
Billy Hurley III notched Spider Tour’s second win at Quicken Loans National, but it was Dustin Johnson’s decision to swap his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS for a black version of Spider Tour at the BMW Championship that reinforced the rise of the mallet.
Johnson went on to win by three shots at Crooked Stick, marking the first time in his career he’s used something other than a blade to record a TOUR win.
“When Jason [Day] won THE PLAYERS Championship, that’s when we knew we had something big on our hands,” said Bill Price, TaylorMade’s director of development for putters and wedges. “We had players coming up to the TaylorMade bag on the practice green asking to see the “Jason Day putter”‘ Then Dustin [Johnson] put it in play and won. The rise of Spider Tour has been incredible.”
Day and Johnson, currently ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings, still have the putters in play. Until recently, both mid-sized mallets were available to consumers, but they featured a few noticeable differences (sightline, hosel and insert) from what’s currently used by the Australian and American.
Given the increase in popularity of Spider Tour, TaylorMade is releasing two versions that are built to exact specs of what Day and Johnson have in the bag.
Spider Tour Red
The first thing that catches your eye is the red color that was chosen for the head of Spider Tour Red. According to TaylorMade, Day asked designers to add a splash of color to the mallet. The dark red that was chosen from 20 different colors just happens to be the same color as the red streak on the abdomen of the Redback Spider that’s commonly found in Day’s native Australia.
Aside from the color, the 355-gram putter features a short, slant-neck hosel and a Pure Roll Surlyn insert that’s preferred by Day due to the softer sound and feel it produces at impact.
The putter also lacks a sightline on the crown. During the end of the 2014 season, Day went back to a clean crown that freed him up to visualize the ball tracking from the face to the hole.
“The main reason I went back to Itsy Bitsy was because the mallet putter I was using had a line on top and, for whatever reason, I couldn’t quite see the line anymore,” Day told PGATOUR.COM in 2015. “Normally when I’m over the putt I can see the line from the ball to the hole. Well, I couldn’t see it rolling and tracking, and that’s how I’ve always read putts.”
Even the grip and non-glare black shaft are identical to what Day currently has on his putter. The final custom touch is a Jason Day putter cover that has a kangaroo on each side.
Spider Tour Black
Dustin Johnson’s Spider Tour Black putter is almost identical to Day’s with the exception of two differences. The most noticeable is the charcoal black paint that was used for the head.
Johnson also prefers the firm feel of TaylorMade’s Pure Roll 80/20 insert to that of the softer Surlyn version in Day’s mallet. The putter comes with a short, slant-neck hosel, no sightline and an all-black, non-glare shaft.
“I was working really hard on it and it just felt like it wasn’t getting any better, so that’s why I changed putters,” Johnson said after his win at the BMW Championship.
As for the reason why Johnson decided on Spider Tour Black over the red version, he admitted he didn’t want to use the exact same putter as Day. So he asked his brother, and caddie, Austin, if he could borrow his Spider Tour Black instead.
“I had the same one that Jason [Day] was using, it was the red one,” Johnson said. “I don’t know, for some reason — well, I was putting with it and I was putting good with it and right before we were about to tee off on Thursday I’m like, ‘AJ, don’t you have the same one in black?’ And he says, ‘Yeah,’ and I said, ‘Go get it.'”
Spider Tour Red and Spider Tour Black retail for $300 (34 and 35 inches) and are currently available for pre-order from TaylorMade.
Spider Tour Platinum
For the golfer who likes the performance of Spider Tour but wants a completely different look from what Day and Johnson have in the bag — there’s Spider Tour Platinum.
That putter has a double-bend steel shaft and a black sightline on the crown to go along with a platinum-colored body that has red weight ports in the back of the head. It also comes with a 6061 aluminum face insert and SuperStroke’s Pistol GT 2.0 grip.
Similar to Spider Tour Red and Black, the Platinum version has a head weight of 355 grams. The putter retails for $220.
Rob Brooks @golfnation_
Sources: TaylorMade Golf, PGATour.com