Tuesday, June 26, 2012
We Tried It: Odyssey Flip Face And Ping Nome
Model Tested: Nome 405 ($299)
Adjustable-length belly putter (Slight Arc shaft configuration)
First Impressions: If we were to hand out an award for the most beautiful mallet we've seen this year, the Nome is a serious contender. Its luxurious finish; unique, 3D "Optigraphic" alignment aid; and overall shaping represent PING's famous dedication to craftsmanship and quality control. The nano-nickel finish you see in the photo? That's not Photoshop. It really does look silky smooth like that.
The Nome is not PING's most radical design, but it's easily our favorite when it comes to mallets. It just looks so simple and makes aligning your putts a cinch. The Nome 405 comes in three shaft bends to accommodate three types of strokes: Straight, Slight Arc and Strong Arc (I tried the Slight Arc). After ogling at the aesthetics for a bit, I couldn't help divert my eyes to the mechanism located just below the grip. This is where the magic happens. The Nome 405 (405g) has an adjustable shaft, meaning the grip end can slide up and down based on player preference. It telescopically slides up to nine inches, effectively turning the Nome into a long belly or a long regular-length putter. And how it works is even more interesting. Using a screw-like tool, you seemingly tighten the mechanism to loosen the shaft. We have no idea how that works, but leave it to the gearheads at PING to create something innovative. The Winn grip felt great too, complementing the feel of the putterhead perfectly.
Performance: Obviously, the performance begins with finding the right length. PING has a fitting guide (and an instructional video on how to make adjustments, starring our very own Jeff Ritter) on their website. It's really not a very complicated process—it's quite easy. Perhaps the only tricky aspect is making sure the grip is on straight—but again, it's not that hard to do. And by the way, length is generally the most overlooked aspect of putter fitting. With the Nome, there's no way to overlook it.
For me, I tried the Nome at various lengths, and found my sweet spot at a length that was around 41 inches long. That's about six inches longer than most standard putters. It felt as though putts were rolling best and my stroke (which is a slight arc by the way) was optimized at this length. Having the ability to adjust the length was crucial and made me realize I've been using a putter that wasn't the right length for my natural putting tendencies. And while I tried a Slight Arc configuration, I felt as though changing the length also changed my stroke a bit—for the better.
As for actual putts, the Nome's firm face generated what I thought to be a very true and immediate roll. The tungsten weighting is perfectly balanced—and combined with the sightline alignment aid, the Nome made putting a lot more fun. It was also cool to try some new putting styles, as it was a cinch to make adjustments to the length.
Summary: The Nome is truly innovative. And even without the adjustable shaft (there is one, called the Nome 355—see Hunter Mahan for endorsements on this one), it's an all-around awesome performer. The internal weighting and the alignment aid round out one of PING's most sophisticated looks yet. No doubt Karsten Solheim is smiling down on this one.
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