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|The extreme putter head shape of the Nike Method Core Drone provides extreme stability and MOI. (Courtesy of Nike Golf)|
"That," pronounced my 7-handicap playing partner John Beckwith, "is a contraption."
We were on the first hole of our home course, and I had just drained a 12-foot par putt with the very first stroke I had ever taken with Nike Golf's just-released Method Core Drone.
"Yes," I agreed, "but it appears to be an effective contraption." And besides, what other comment would one expect from a guy who still putts (extremely well) with a 1970-vintage Bulls Eye?
Until now, Nike Golf's popular and critically acclaimed Method line has largely consisted of more traditional flanged blades -- traditional enough, at least, for players such as Tiger Woods to have a go with them in Tour events.
The Nike Method Core Drone ($204) is the first of the Method line to fully embrace the engineering features that have become popular with us not-quite-ready-for-the-Tour players: high MOI, polymer face insert and a mallet head with perimeter weighting. In short, all the bells and whistles that make a putter a "contraption."
After that first par-saving snake, maintaining objectivity about the Nike Method Core Drone became more difficult than sinking a double-breaking downhill four-footer.
A common complaint about new-fangled mallet putters with soft face inserts is that they dampen, or even deaden, feel. The upshot of this is that one cannot tell the difference between a center-struck putt and one that wanders from the sweet spot.
A notable feature of the Drone, however, is that despite its polymer face insert and resultant softness, feel is not diminished. Well struck and just-missed putts are immediately discernible in terms of feel but, rather remarkably, not much in terms of roll. Within five feet, I ended up making several putts that were struck somewhat off-center.
This speaks wonders for the stability of the Drone, produced by the weighting found at the heel and the toe, as well as in the tips of the "wings" at the back of the putter head.
The polymetal grooves in the polymer face insert (a feature of the entire Method series) are designed to promote forward roll -- to sort of catch the ball on the upswing and launch it forward. This strong forward roll not withstanding, the one aspect of the Drone that took some getting used to was the speed. I found myself leaving several putts short, but this was partly due to the shaggy late-season greens and partly due to transitioning from a putter without a face insert, which I'd been using for the past two seasons.
Within 3-4 feet, though, the Drone was deadly -- confidence was high, and putt count was low.
The feel of the Method Drone is soft but responsive, and once you work out the speed, longer putts will begin to drain as confidently as three-footers.
Rabid traditionalists may mock the appearance (not to mention the orthographic contraption of the macron over the "o"), but now that a major has been won with a belly putter, there is no need to be ashamed.
The Nike Method Core Drone leads Nike putters into the "contraption" era. It's not one of the Nike models you'll be seeing Tiger experiment with, but it is the sort of putter that you will see plenty of $5 Nassaus won with.
For more information, visit www.nikegolf.com.
December 28, 2011
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.
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