We refuse to believe that putter innovation is dead. -Toulon Design
According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, synthesis (“putting together of elements and parts so as to form a whole.”) represents one of the higher levels of thinking. I view synthesis as the connections between the disconnected. You take knowledge from seemingly unrelated areas, find the connections, and build something novel from the union of the components.
If you take a moment to think about it, there are a number of current pieces of golf gear out there whose designs are exercises in synthesis.
Think about the Callaway XR line of drivers. What was the “big deal” about the XR? Thinking back to the 2016 PGA show, Callaway had a giant airplane in their booth to promote their partnership with Boeing in designing the XR. Callaway and Boeing were combining knowledge to produce a better driver. Boeing engineers’ expertise in aerodynamics helped create a driver shape with less wind resistance, which enabled faster head movement and thus produced longer drives.
I’m sure that you can cite other examples of golf gear synthesis. There are numerous examples of disconnected industries coming together, and producing something new as a result.
Today, that connection is between putters and racecars.
Introducing the Indianapolis, our first foray imto the world of super-high MOI mallets. This design has been in development for well over a year, and every single detail has been examined and perfected. When we first started developing Indianapolis, we knew we wanted to create something that was revolutionary in terms of performance and aesthetics.
In other words, Toulon Design (and Odyssey Golf) has tapped into the world of Indy Cars to design the new Indianapolis mallet, connecting the materials and even the shapes of the Indy Car to the putter.
Today, we are going to dive a bit deeper into the Indianapolis, exploring the connections Sean Toulon has made between the car and putter realms. We will take a look at the racecar tech incorporated into the putter, and I’ll give you my impressions from my test drives with the Indianapolis.
Specifications: Toulon Design Indianapolis
- Materials: 6061-Aluminum, 303 Stainless Steel, Carbon Fiber, & Tungsten
- Head Type: Mallet
- Loft: 3°
- Availability: RH/LH
- Standard Length: 33/34/35
- Lie: 70°
- Offset: Full Shaft
- Toe Hang: Face-Balanced
- Head Weight: 360g
- Face: Deep-Diamond Mill
- Options: Counterbalanced versions available
Indianapolis Tech: Multi-Material Design
We channeled the engineering spirit of IndyCar racecar technicians, past and present, and crafted a design that incorporated four different materials. The face is made up of aircraft grade 6061-aluminum, giving you a soft, crisp feel. The sole is made up of 303 stainless steel, giving you maximum stability. The crown is made up of a lightweight carbon fiber composite, giving you a sleek look, while allowing us to distribute weight more effectively throughout the putter. Two 303 stainless steel or tungsten weights located on the back wings boosts the MOI to unbelievable highs, making this the best performing putter we’ve ever created.
Usually, when I am listing materials for the spec sheet, I have one, or maybe two, materials to list. Today, there are four different materials. Toulon has really pushed the envelope here. While this is supposed to be a connection to car design, the materials used and their specific locations around the putter remind me of more of modern driver design. Golf engineers have incorporated different materials into drivers to move weight around, influencing MOI and other play characteristics. The Toulon Indianapolis pushes the boundaries of multi-material construction in a putter beyond what we have previously seen.
Each of the different materials has a purpose. The face is aluminum for feel, the sole is stainless for weight, the body is carbon fiber for “non-weight,” and the tungsten and/or stainless plugs in the fins keep the whole thing nice and stable through the stroke.
I’m not sure that this putter design would even be possible with any other composition. Maybe it could all be milled from a billet of aluminum, but I some of the angles the carbon fiber allows for would prove troublesome to mill, and you would likely still need stainless or tungsten weights to bring it up to a comfortable playing weight. Bringing together the different materials allows for a unique putter design.
Indianapolis Tech: Alignment
The Indianapolis doesn’t just have the components of an IndyCar, it has the looks too. The silver finish of the aluminum face contrasts beautifully with the matte black shade of the carbon composite crown, making it incredibly easy to align properly. The Indianapolis also features nine prominent lines in the design that are either parallel or perpendicular to the target; add all that up, and you have one of the easiest putters to line up ever.
The Indianapolis has nine parallel and perpendicular alignment lines in its design to help you aim. I know that you are saying ‘There is only one line there”, but if you allow your eye to wander along the edges of the putter and the edges of the body cavity, I bet you can see more of the lines/edges.
The silver face does stand out quite dramatically when compared to the black body. This gives the Indianapolis an almost blade-like profile at the front end. I’ll give you my take on this later, but this silver perpendicular rectangle could also help someone line up putts to target.
Indianapolis Tech: Feel
Our unique pattern was designed after rigorous testing of 25 different mill patterns. The deep cross-hatch grooves control the sound and feel by channeling vibration and the small groove inside each diamond pattern is designed to improve the quality of the roll. The result is a putter where the sound and feel are tuned to match the distance that the ball rolls.
I found the feeling at impact with the Indianapolis to be very muted. There is a tone, but it is a deep/dull one as opposed to a bright click or ping sound. No judgment there, just pointing out that it has a lower resonating impact. The tone of impact does change when you wander the face, with the edges sounding harsher.
There is also a bit of vibrational feedback when you hit the heel or toe. That’s a nice way of saying it feels like crap when you hit out there. The lesson there is that if it hurts when you poke your thumb in your eye, then stop poking your thumb in your eye.
Experiences On The Course
So what did I think when I took this out on the course?
Regarding alignment, I found that the Indianapolis took some adjusting to at address. The black carbon body and the aluminum face set up quite the contrast at address, and that was a bit too much contrast for me.
When first rolling the Indianapolis, I was not totally sure where my eyes should go at address. Do I focus more on the silver face, or on the large white alignment line on the body? After the first few rounds and practice sessions, I came to view the Indianapolis as a small silver blade with some black stuff hanging on the back that keeps it stable. Though it’s a large mallet, the Indianapolis feels more blade-like to me.
Even with this perception swing, the more I played with the Indianapolis, the more I wished that it was all black. Though I knew to focus on the front part, I still needed to remind myself to focus on the front part, thus adding another thought to my pre-putt routine. Additionally, the sun’s glare on the aluminum at noon was almost unbearably bright. On that hole, I didn’t care about putting as much as not going blind while looking at the putter. This alternative focus probably isn't helping me to hole putts.
Glare aside, once I became more comfortable with the looks, it was very easy to get the ball rolling along the target line with the Toulon Indianapolis. Rarely did I find the ball wandering to someplace unintended. Obviously, this means that I made every putt. Well...
Truth be told, I had a problem getting the ball to the hole. Though the copy says that the “sound and feel are tuned to match the distance the ball rolls,” for me, that distance was typically short. After a few rounds with the Indianapolis, I had a putting instructor watch me putt, and he said my issue was deceleration. In close, the tempo was fine, but when the putt got longer, I tended to put on the brakes mid swing.
I was a bit surprised with this assessment because I found the Indianapolis to be so easy swinging. It is amazingly balanced and stable through the swing, yet something was causing me to not finish at pace. Aware of this, I proceeded to blow balls past the hole by yards. Given time, I thought this would change, and it has a bit, but even after a few weeks, I’m either a bit short or way past with the Indianapolis. Just can’t quite dial in distance.
This is especially maddening for me because although the feel changes as you wander the face, the roll distance is pretty darn consistent. Misses go the same distance, likely due to the huge MOI keeping the mallet from moving much at all at impact. I know that if I can dial in that distance, that the tech of the Indianapolis design would help correct for my poor strikes. Unfortunately, I can’t quite get that distance dialed in enough to where the putter will fix my follies. Perhaps one of the counterbalanced versions of the Indianapolis might help with the pace issue.
The Indy $400
The multi-material design on the Toulon Indianapolis is going to set you back about $170 more than a traditional Odyssey mallet (O-Works 2-Ball retails for $229.99). Yes, that does mean that the Indianapolis costs $399, with the counterbalanced models running the price up to as high as $499.
While I’m not going to argue that $400 for a putter is not a lot of money, I do see how the Indianapolis needs to cost more than a traditional Odyssey. The materials are different, and the design and build times required for the Indianapolis are likely much longer than a cast Number 7.
Dave’s Take: Test Drive the Indianapolis
All in all, I found the Toulon Indianapolis an enjoyable putter to drop into the bag. The stability of swing and the alignment designs both fall deeply into the plus column for me. Distance control was off for me, but the miss was consistently short. This may be something that improves with continued use or something that might be reduced if I switched to the counterbalanced version of the putter. I’m hitting my line every time, just not the hole. It’s a bit maddening.
The only real lingering criticism I have with the putter is the reflective nature of the glossy aluminum at address. Its brightness is consistently distracting to me when the sun is overhead. Your mileage may vary with this, but I would recommend some outside demo with the Indianapolis before purchase. I am seriously considering sending this putter off to Labworx to have them do the front in their black armor. I’ll lose the blade with a wing look that it has now, but I believe that the loss of reflection and increased continuity through the head will make this putter look amazing.
Regardless, get out there and take the Indianapolis for a spin. I’m interested to see what you think. You should be able to find one in a shop near you after May 17th.