AUSTIN, Texas — The beauty of being a professional golfer, aside from the fame, first-place checks and private jets, is access to custom-made equipment. It doesn’t matter what it takes, most manufacturers will pull out all the stops to get something in play, including customized putters you won’t find on the rack at your local golf shop.
For the last eight weeks, TaylorMade Tour rep Chris Trott has been working on a project for some of the best golfers on the planet. The hope is a custom putter could sway Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Hideki Matsuyama, among others, into giving a TaylorMade flatstick a hard look at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play — and potentially the Masters in a few weeks.
“I figure if they’re going to change, it’s going to be around the match play event,” Trott said.
Trott has been working closely with two engineers at TaylorMade to get the putters built and noted that the process hasn’t been easy.
“I like to be there when we do it,” Trott said. “Basically, I call back, the boys order them up. We’ve got Kia and Marty, our two engineers, and there’s a lot of back and forth. There’s a lot of playing around. We’re a pretty small operation with putters compared to others. We run very lean, so it takes me a few weeks. Hence, why this is a long process that started weeks and weeks ago.”
Dustin Johnson had four putters with varying alignments in a TaylorMade staff bag on the practice green and tested some of them last week at the Valspar Championship, including a Spider X with no alignment on the crown. Jason Day and Jon Rahm also had Spider X putters made with the same clean crown.
“We held off on that,” Trott said of removing the crown’s True Path system. “The white [alignment] line is what it’s all about, so we really didn’t want to do it without. But they’ve held pretty strong with not wanting to use the white line. So this week we’ve got some options without the line. We’ll see what they say.”
Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka were the only high-profile names who didn’t have a Spider X in the staff bag. Trott and team built Matsuyama a one-off, center-shafted TP Juno and a new TP Mullen mallet, which is the same putter he used to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2017.
Aside from the different head shapes, Trott pointed out that Matsuyama has a different insert in the putters.
“That’s got a steel insert in it now,” he said. “[Hideki] tried aluminum last week and it wasn’t loud enough, so I put steel in. The problem is the swing weight has gone through the roof. It’s not a problem on the blades, but the mallet, the swing weight is quite high on those. So I need to speak to him and see what he thinks, because they’ve got a steel insert in them, but then they’ve got a plate behind them to make it loud.”
While Matsuyama and Koepka have one-off products, Trott hinted that an updated version could be in the pipeline for retail down the road.
“The Brooks and the Hideki Juno [putter], you may see that moving forward,” he said. “But it was done in the same batch as the Tiger one. Tiger has a Juno that’s a lot shallower. He and Brooks got a Juno based off that, but it’s not the same mold as Tiger’s.”
Justin Rose also possess a customized TaylorMade Spider X putters. It’s unclear if either player will test his new creation this week, but if they do, Trott is ready.