Written By: Will Dron
At MyGolfSpy we're known for our data-driven Most Wanted club reviews. We are, afterall, #Datacratic. What you may not know is that our Community Members are also given the opportunity to test new equipment as well. When a good opportunity crosses our desks, we select 3 or more MyGolfSpy forum members in good standing to take part in our community review process.
Each golfer who is selected is asked to write a complete review of the product being tested. Those individual reviews are posted in the forum with each tester and author making himself available to answer any questions from our other forum members.
Our member reviews from MarcKilgore, Jmikecpa, The Artful Duffer, and Jaxbeachpackerfan have already been shared and can be found by clicking on each's member to name to read their individual reviews. For my part, I tested the TaylorMade Spider Si along with our tester group and will include some research I’ve done on the club, comparisons to my current putter (original Ping Nome), and the findings from our member tester group.
We've taken all of feedback from our testers on the 38" TaylorMade Spider Si Counterbalanced Putter and consolidated it here in this community review.
If you'd like the opportunity to take part in a future community review, Join the MyGolfSpy forum, contribute, and see for yourself why it's different here.
A look at forgiveness
One of the things I set out to find out was what do the MOI values TaylorMade espouses mean. For reference, TaylorMade boasts the Spider Si has a MOI of 6000+ and the Daddy Long Legs a MOI of 8500+. So I went to Google and look it up and found a couple of interesting articles:
I’ll only briefly mention the mathematical aspects in this paragraph since I can already imagine many of you just not giving a damn.
The formula for MOI is mass times distance from the center of gravity squared. There, done with the math part.
One thing mentioned in the one-putts article that has been echoed by TaylorMade in the past is that almost no one can tell the difference of a difference in 1000 MOI. So while mathematically speaking, there is some difference between the Spider Si (MOI 6000+) and the Daddy Long Legs (MOI 8500+) and likewise between a blade style putter and the Spider Si, in practice the gap between the numbers isn't nearly as drastic as it might seem. They do offer a point of reference, which can be helpful for giving the golfer a better sense of how much MOI he prefers in a putter.
That said, our testers (and I agree with them) found the forgiveness of the Spider Si to be fantastic. Compared to the Ping Nome, there was little difference, but that is a plus for the Spider Si, since I found the original Nome to be incredibly forgiving.
One difference between the two putters, however, is that the Nome has a very distinctive clink sound when struck off the center of the face, whereas the Spider Si more-or-less feels the same unless you miss significantly away from the center of the face.
Choking down a really long grip
The Spider Si has a head weight of 380g. Most putters on the market today have head weights of 330-370g. This is where the long grip and counter balancing comes in. The 125g grip they use has most of its mass in the back of the club to help mitigate the swingweight of such a heavy head.
…which led to my next question, what is the swingweight of this putter?
Luckily, I have a scale for such questions. Unluckily, the swingweight of this putter is literally off the scale. The thing is, using this scale is something most five year olds would be capable of, so I know I didn’t screw it up, but to double check I took out my Ping Nome and it measured to around E6. This is reasonably top heavy, but at least it was on the scale. Now, the real issue is you need to choke down on the Spider Si, so getting a functional swingweight is near impossible with the simple equipment I have since it really needs to be measured at the spot of your hands.
Even without a tool to measure swingweight though, a simple waggle test will tell you the swingweight of this putter is significantly higher than most traditional putters. For comparison, after adjusting to the Spider Si, the Nome with its E6 swingweight felt very light. This exaggerated swingweight makes the counterbalanced club just feel incredibly stable.
A great deal is said about confidence while putting. Counterbalancing can give you the confidence that you won’t hit a push or pull as often.
One important thing we found about counterbalanced putters is there is an adjustment period, due in part to the drastic difference in swingweight. Many of our testers, who spent over 4 weeks with the putter, echoed this in their reviews. For me personally, I was ready to toss out the putter after the first few rounds. I was putting poorly and looked at every part of this putter as a reason why I was putting so badly. I even went back to the Nome and, oddly enough, continued to putt badly. I did work my way through it though and in the last weeks of the review process, had some of the best putting rounds of my life. While there is an adjustment period, it can be worth the effort.
On a more negative side of counterbalanced putters, our tester group also found one very important problem: the grip will occasionally catch bellies and jackets. Since the putter is choked down, a portion of the grip sticks out past your hands. I’m a pretty skinny guy, but whenever I wore a jacket I had to be especially conscious of this overhang. We tested the 38" model, so it's likely the issue would be mitigated simply by selecting the 35" model.
The other aspect of choking down on a putter that I noticed was until you found the right spot on the grip, consistency suffered. This is why I think I struggled the first two weeks with this putter, until I had a set spot on the grip (using the Spider icon as a guide), I was always in a slightly different setup. However, once I was able to adjust and consciously remember to grip it in the same place each time, my putting improved dramatically. A future improvement manufacturers could make is to add horizontal stripes on the grip to help make it easier to find your ideal grip spot every time.
The final bit of technology I looked into was the PureRoll insert. TaylorMade has put all their eggs in the basket when it comes to this insert. Unfortunately, much of the manufacturing process is kept as TaylorMade’s secret sauce, but what I can tell you is the inserts are made using a customized machine that can create grooves the size of a fraction of a hair’s width and there are many of these micro grooves in the insert.
From a testing perspective, the face of the putter is primarily affects how the putter feels, but if you buy into TaylorMade’s story, then it also affects how well the ball rolls, which we tested as a measurement of accuracy. Both will be addressed in the next two sections.
There is, however, one complaint several of us had of the insert, and that’s sand can get stuck inside the grooves. Personally, I found this to be almost a non-issue, but if you don’t carry a brush to clean your irons, you may want to do so.
The three main areas our testers were asked to focus on were accuracy, distance control, and forgiveness. Each was evaluated separately for putts greater than 20 feet, between 5 and 20 feet, and less than 5 feet.
Three of our testers rated accuracy from all distances as very good to excellent and the final tester rated it as fair. Personally, I felt like the ball was on a rail after being hit. One tester said it was comparable to the Odyssey 2 ball. I would rate it marginally better than the Ping Nome, but by no means a clear-cut winner.
Distance control was a bit different. I was with most of the testers. We really struggled with distance control for a while and this was the biggest area that required adjustment, which makes sense since the putter feels so different from most putters out there. After the adjustment period, several of us rated distance control as excellent. One tester rated distance control as excellent right off the bat and another tester said he was still working on it by the end of the 4 week review cycle.
Finally, forgiveness rating from every tester was consistently excellent. Off center hits more or less went the same distance as center hits. Ralph Maltby mentioned in his testing that even plus one cappers use a 5/16” to 3/8” circular area of the clubface, so no complaints here.
In this section, testers looked at the looks, sound and feel, and likelihood of purchase of the Spider Si.
Two of our testers loved the looks of the putter and three of them, including myself, felt it was good, but nothing outstanding. One major complaint we found though is it is painfully obvious when the paint chips. This is true of nearly any of TaylorMade's white putters. My son uses the Spider Blade, and typical of a 10 year old, it looks very much like it was tossed out of a car and then chewed on by a rabid animal.
If the durability of the finish is a major concern for you, we might have a deal-breaker where the Spider Si is concerned.
I was honestly shocked by how much our tester group liked the sound and feel of the putter. For me it was actually a significant adjustment as the Spider Si is much more muted than I was used to. I’m not one to really care about sound and feel, but it was a noticeable change. Our tester group all rated sound and feel as excellent though: different, but very good.
"The alignment lines are almost exactly ball width extending back an inch and a half from the putter face. But then, there are also the wings, and the slight flange at the end of the wings, which end with a gap between the two wings also almost exactly a ball width apart. Visually, this creates an alignment channel extending 3+ inches behind the putterface, but without any mass for the last portion of the channel. This provides additional alignment aid to me without the clunky look or feel it would have if it were solid the entire distance." - Jaxbeachpackerfan, MGS Community Member
The grip received high marks as well as soft and comfortable to use, with the exception of being too long for at least one of our testers, and with another tester still deciding whether it was too long for him or not.
Likelihood of purchase received much harsher scores from our tester group though, but that’s mainly because they’re a bunch of cheapskates several of them like buying models one season removed. While the scores were low, several of them said the numbers were still fairly high compared to other recently released putters. Only one tester said he would not buy this putter, but again that was largely due to the 38" test length being too long for his frame. Personally, if I were looking to buy a putter the Spider Si would be at the top of my list of putters to check out.
I’m assuming several of you really did not read everything above this section, so I’ll repeat myself a bit. The real takeaway from our review is many of us felt counterbalancing works, but takes time to adjust. Likewise for TaylorMade’s PureRoll insert. The high MOI of the Spider Si gives more than enough forgiveness and it feels incredibly stable through the putt. It wasn’t for everyone, but a lot of this had to do with the fit of the club. TaylorMade recommends people who putt 34” clubs can use either the 35” or 38” models, but it was the guys who used 34” putters previously that had the most complaints with the 38” model we received. Fitting, as always, is very important and it should be added that it is very easy to custom order any putter to your preferred length.
I should also mention the putter has a scoop! Mallet users on the practice green know how nice it is to not bend down every other minute like a Hooter’s waitress to pick up a ball. My back is OK with me spending time on the practice putting once again.