PRODUCT REVIEW

TaylorMade and Adidas
Golf Roar onto the
Putter Scene with Rossa

By Shane Sharp, Contributing Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- TaylorMade isn’t merely dabbling in the putter making business in 2002. They are going full on, pedal to the metal, and the result is one of the best flat blades to hit the market since Odyssey and Carbite roared on to the scene in the late 1990’s.

TaylorMade, in conjunction with Adidas Golf, will begin shipping its Rossa putter to golf shops around the country in April. TaylorMade plans to operate a completely separate putting producing division in order to compete with Callaway (Odyssey), Titleist, Ping and Carbite.

Rossa means red in Italian, and each putter in the new Rossa line features a pair of red oval Titallium inserts made of lightweight aluminum, one on the front of the clubhead and the other on the back. The inserts retain the sound and feel of traditional putters, but move the center of gravity down and back in the clubhead.

The Rossa models come in blade and mid-mallet head shapes, and will retail at $275 for the carbon steel Tour edition (eight steel models), and $165 for the stainless steel Sport edition (12 models). The key to the putters true feel lies in its construction: a lightweight alloy mixing seven exotic metals, and the Titallium inserts which have a strength to weight ratio three times that of steel.

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The upshot of this scientific jargon is a putter that has better launch conditions, a higher moment of inertia, superior distance control, and a pleasing sound and feel. TaylorMade’s theory is that most players putt by sound, which is then directly translated to feel. The company found that the Rossa putter’s Titallium inserts had an advantage over epoxy and other polymer inserts, which were too quiet to the human ear.

“With Rossa, we were given autonomous control within TaylorMade to build a performance putter that would match the company’s recent tour and retail success,” says Sean Toulon, vice president of new business development and head of Rossa’s development team.

“The first result of this ability to act independently was winning over the world’s best players just a couple months after Rossa’s inception. And with the buzz that’s rapidly developed on Tour, I am confident that it will be a hit in the marketplace as well.”

According to Toulon, the Rossa was made available to PGA Tour players for the 2001 season. The putter found its way into the bag of 35 Tour players, and already has two victories and 13 top 10 finishes worldwide. Need a name? How about Ernie Els. The South African won the WGC-EMC2 World Cup and the Vodacom Players’ Championship putting the Rossa.

Our Spin

The key to the Rossa putter, scientific language aside, is sound and feel. Unlike the first Carbite and Odyssey putter, the Rossa combines a soft putting surface with the solid sound of an old Ping Zing putter. After playing five, 18-hole rounds with the Rossa, my only concern on putts over 20 feet (and I have many) was the break. The Rossa is just that good with distance control, so you don’t have to be.

The challenge for putters in this day and age is how they respond to the myriad of balls that are on the market today. It is almost impossible to design a putter that responds to hard golf balls, like Pinnacles and Top Flites, and soft ones, like Titleists and Spalding’s Stratas. I used the Rossa along with the new Strata Tour Professional and the Top Flite 3000, and the putter responded wonderfully and consistently to both.

TaylorMade’s brain trust conducted a comparison analysis between tour pros and everyday golfers to help determine optimum frequency for the Rossa. Many pros are moving to harder balls, and recreational players are giving the softer balls a chance. The Rossa has been designed to meet both emerging standards, and is configured to resonate at a level preferred by both types of players, between 3000 and 5000 hz.

Did you Know?

The Rossa will be represented by a sleek shield logo developed by Peter Moore of Nike’s Jordan Jumpman and Greg Norman’s shark Adidas logo fame. The shield is a visually appealing mix of red and yellow. In the center is a red peacock, which in Italian legend was a magical bird symbolizing resurrection (a hint of Rossa’s connection to TaylorMade’s innovative club resurgence over the last 18 months.

About TaylorMade

TaylorMade was founded in 1979, and is headquartered in Carlsbad, Ca. In 1998, the company joined with adidas Golf. TaylorMade made a name for itself in the golf equipment industry through the popularity of its drivers and fairway woods, but has since entered the iron, golf ball, and now putter making industries.

For more information on the Rossa putter, visit www.taylormadegolf.com.

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