“THE JASON DAY PUTTER” THAT HAS THE TOUR SEEING RED
When the #1 player in golf makes a statement on the course, the world takes notice. Whether it’s a blowout victory, a poignant remark in a press conference, or a significant equipment change, Jason Day has become a role model for young golfers and a trendsetter on Tour. Most recently, Jason had the golf world buzzing with his wire-to-wire victory at THE PLAYERS Championship—not only over the sheer dominance of his win, but because of the new, distinct flatstick he used on the greens. Overnight, the Spider Limited Red became the hottest putter in golf.
First unveiled when Jason put it in play during the RBC Heritage in April, he had the red putter back in the bag at TPC Sawgrass where he punctuated his field-leading driving distance with an impressive 8th overall ranking in strokes gained putting. Despite taking the following week off while the Tour moved on to the AT&T Byron Nelson, the impact of Jason’s win resonated throughout TPC Four Seasons Resort. Available to other Tour players for the first time, the Spider Limited Red was a hot commodity during the week’s practice rounds. With TaylorMade staffers and competitors going out of their way to get their hands on the new “Jason Day putter,” we expect to see much more red out on the greens in the coming weeks.
To get the full story, Tour Diaries sat down with TaylorMade’s Senior Director of Product Creation – Putters, Bill Price, to discuss the reaction from Tour and get the inside scoop on how this striking new putter first found its way into Jason’s bag.
Q: What was the reaction like out on Tour when you first unveiled the red putter?
At the AT&T Byron Nelson, we brought out nothing but the two new versions of the Spider Limited (all-red and gray/red). It was amazing to me how many guys wanted to come see Jason’s red putter. PGA Tour players would stop by, and every comment was, “Wow, this putter is really stable. I love the roll. This looks great.” Keep in mind, many of these players are under contract with other brands, but they still wanted to see Jason’s putter. It was almost like they felt a disadvantage—like he’s got something special that they can’t play with right now. There was just story, after story, after story… and the best one—and I’m not going to use any names—but one Tour player was walking by, stopped at the red putters, looked down, and you could just see the thought bubble inside his head like, what is that red putter? And another Tour player commented:
TOUR PLAYER 1:
“Haven’t you seen this? We just got smoked by the #1 player in the world, and he was using that red putter.”
TOUR PLAYER 2:
(grabs the putter) “Wow, this thing feels really good.”
It’s rare to see validation like that. I couldn’t believe the amount of comments from all these non-TaylorMade players wanting to come see it and feel it. It was just remarkable. Winning changes everything—we knew we had a good putter, but Jason’s win gave the putter instant credibility.
Q: Backing up a bit, how did the concept of a red putter first come about?
The Spider Limited Red was an idea born organically through Jason. In October of 2015, Jason had asked us to add a little bit of red onto his putter. And once we saw a sample, we knew right away that it was a very interesting contrast. Immediately, you notice the clarity of the alignment when you have a red body with a white sightline, especially against a green backdrop. Red and green are contrasting colors, so when you put [the putter] down on the green and you have that white sight line, the contrast is very distinct. Jason is a visual person, so if you notice, he likes to quiet down parts of his brain before he hits every shot. He goes through this routine of envisioning his shot. There is something about that with putting too—it has to appeal to your vision. So we set up a meeting with him around the end of January and that’s when he saw the prototype for the first time. He thought it looked great, but at the time, it was in more of a sports car red, and he asked to see some different variations. After going through about 15 samples, we had this sort of brick red, which was closer to crimson, and I knew right away that was the one. We went out and showed it to Jason and he said, “That’s it. That’s a beautiful red.
Q: Was there a particular reason why Jason wanted a red putter to begin with?
The idea was that since the putter was named itsy bitsy Spider, Jason thought it would be neat to add a little bit of red to reference the deadly Redback Spider from where he grew up in Australia. We sell two versions today because we know there are some people that would love the all-red one, but there are other people that would want some of the red inspiration from Jason Day in a more conservative gray with red wings.
Q: Beyond trying to find the perfect color, were there any challenges in the design process to meet Jason’s specifications?
Well, everything had to be the same as he was currently playing. Players don’t want to switch, especially when they are playing really well—the last thing they change is the putter. If you look at the best players out there, they rarely switch putters. If you look at many of the TOURs best putters, they’ve played the same putter for a long time. Jason’s had his putter for a long time as well. He’s played the same one since his rise to the top, so for him to change isn’t an easy thing to do. We knew that was the challenge. He’s a very detailed guy. He needed the weights to be the same, the insert to be the same—everything had to be the same before he would try it.
Q: How is the design process different when you are working with the best player in the world?
Details. Everything has to be the same. And there are a lot of opposing forces, like if you want to get the right loft and the right shaft lean with the right face angle, they kind of work against each other. Trying to make that putter identical to his is very difficult, especially trying to dial in the feel. There’s a certain feel with putting and there’s a reason why he’s the #1 player in the world. Those players at the very top [have a level of] feel that’s very different from everybody else. There can be no flaws in that putter. The grip, the shaft, the label, the weight, the loft, the shaft lean, everything has to be perfect—and if it’s a quarter of a degree off, they will notice.
Q: How else did Jason help contribute to the design of the new putter?
There’s a shape that he helped develop that was different from the original Spider. The original Spider was very flat on top. It had a step-down [from the face to the body]. What Jason asked for was a more seamless design, so we filled in the cap on top to create a seamless frame. The current design is now more cambered and rolled on the front leading edge compared to the straightness of the original Spider. It all feels like it flows together as one piece.
Q: What kind of impact do you think this putter will have going forward?
Everything starts on the Tour, especially in a category like putters and wedges. If it’s successful on Tour, generally you have a 90% chance that it’s going to be successful in retail. We went to an AJGA event a couple weeks after Jason put it in play at the RBC Heritage. And remember, he was leading that tournament after 36 holes and we got a lot of notice about that red putter. These AJGA golfers are the kids that are getting ready to play college golf—they read about every shaft, every grip, and every head. So when we went to this AJGA event, they were out on the putting green calling their friends with excitement, “That’s the Jason Day putter!” They were taking pictures and asking to see it, putt with it—any other putter out there did not matter. It was amazing how quickly word travels about something new. For every one of those kids, it was all about the red putter that Jason Day was using.
Q: What makes this red putter more than just a paint color?
Well, this putter is a different model completely. It isn’t just an old putter with new paint, it is a new model with a new seamless body, and people are seeing it for the first time. There’s also a lot of psychology behind red. There’s a lot about being more aggressive. What do we want to do in golf? We want to have a red number. I heard that a lot from the Tour this past week: “Red putter for red numbers.”So there is some psychology behind it. And it is about being aggressive. You don’t want to be passive when you are trying to get to red numbers. Par is OK, but you want to have birdie. You want to make this putt. You want to be aggressive. Red sets that tone.
Spider Limited and Spider Limited Red – Available 6/3
Behind the scenes gallery of Spider Limited and Spider Limited Red from the PGA Tour:
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