Set Another Place at the Putter Table

Of all the niches in the golf equipment world, putter making may be the most accessible. It makes sense really. The classic putter is but sculpted metal, whereas other clubs can become permeated with multi-material madness. A man with a design, some drive, and a mill, has a chance to put something of his own making in front of the putter buying consumer.

We all know that being new isn't necessarily a stigma for a young putter company. Just ask Carbon Putters about how they did in last year's Most Wanted Blade competition with their "new" Ringo 1/4. Sometimes new can be game-changing.

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Today, we are going to take a look at Ricky Johnson Custom Putters. If you don't cruise Twitter and Instagram looking for sweet putter photos, and you should, then you may not be familiar with Mr. Johnson's work. Don't feel bad though, we are going to take care of that oversight.

First, we are going to run through a little Q&A with Mr. Johnson, and then, I've got a bit of custom metal to share with you.

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How did Ricky Johnson Custom Putters come into being?

How Ricky Johnson Putters came to be is a familiar story. Mr. Johnson has been a dominate name in the centrifuge business for years and has been working with and manufacturing metal machinery for well over 40 years, his knowledge of metals is rather amazing. Aside from his passion for metals he also hunts, fishes, is heavily involved in racing but most importantly, he has a big spot in his heart for golf and he’s incredibly passionate about it.

Ricky grew tired of never being able to find that perfect putter to fit him and his game so one day in the shop he decided to take some time and design a putter for himself. Not long after that the very first Ricky Johnson Putter was built.

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It took a little while but his friends started asking about this new putter he was wielding and wanted to know where to get one so Ricky started making some putters for his family and some friends and a few of the locals in the Magnolia area. Word was starting to get around town that these Ricky Johnson putters were something special but, It wasn’t until a local Pro came up to Mr. Johnson on the golf course and asked him to make him one when Ricky realized he was on to something.

It was soon after that the Ricky Johnson Five-O-Six Prototype was first manufactured and the company has been growing ever since.

Now, a few years later Ricky Johnson Custom Putters has begun to establish ourselves as a truly unique putters that delivers performance unseen in this massive industry.

What separates Ricky Johnson custom putters from off the rack putters? From other small-shop putters?

Like many boutique putters what we brag and boast about is our attention to detail. Our putters are not mass produced with subpar materials and the amount of time we put into a putter to make sure it is absolutely perfect for our customers would astound most people, let along most other club makers. Using only the best 303 Stainless steel available our putters are 100% milled and assembled right here in the USA in Magnolia Texas. Mr. Johnson prides himself on the quality that comes from America and we are very pro Made in the USA. All of our accessories from grips to shafts and our covers are all made her in the states and it’s something we’re very proud of.

Ricky history of working with metals and his creative designs have allowed us to bring a truly unique milled face to the market. Our patent pending GameFace technology gets the ball rolling forward fast and on line more than any putter we have ever seen.

What is the process for ordering a Ricky Johnson custom putter?

When you visit the store page on our site you’ll find it’s a very simple process to choose a putter. We’ve put in a lot of time to make sure the purchasing of a Ricky Johnson Custom Putter is quick and painless. Once you select the putter of your choosing the option menu opens up and you can customize everything from loft, lie, length, grip, grip color, head cover, head cover color, custom engraving, and paint fill.

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Being a custom manufacture I wouldn’t compare our delivery times to Amazon for sure. The process can be a lengthy one and we take our time to make sure everything is exactly the way the customer wants it before we ship it out. Requests that fall outside the norm of course add some time to the process but we do our best to stay in communication with our customers if there is a delay or a change in the estimated time of delivery. A standard putter with no special request we can normally have from online checkout to the customer’s front door in approximately 14-20 days.

What can a golfer expect when he or she games a Ricky Johnson custom putter?

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Remarkable quality, exquisite craftsmanship, and most importantly consistency. Will offer a putter that will perform as flawless for you on day one as it will on year twenty. We honestly believe once you have a Ricky Johnson Custom Putter in your bag, it will be there for many, many years to come.

Can you give us a glimpse of things to come at Ricky Johnson Custom Putters?

We just recently added a new head cover company to our putter lines that will be debuting soon. Let’s just say the Velcro days will soon be behind us. We truly take to heart what our customers say and most of all they have requested a cover that stays on better than what we are currently using. It took some time but we believe we have found the right partner for this and we’re excited to see the new products.

We also have to special builds in process. One is a Damascus version of our Five –O-Six Tour edition. We’ll be creating a unique finish for the Damascus build and we’re hoping that MyGolfSpy’s “pimp” list takes notice! The other is a custom, from scratch, copper design we’re building for a special client. Be sure to check out Instagram and Twitter feeds for pics of these two 1 of 1 putters.

But… the most exciting news about 2016 will be the introduction of our Wide body model that will come in three versions. The Five-O-Six Classic face balanced shaft, out Five-O-Six Tour which features our milled neck and then our first production run of a center shafted putter. We hope to have these putters available on our site by the end of March.

Closer Look: Ricky Johnson Five-O-Six Tour

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Specifications

  • Model: Five-O-Six Tour
  • Material: 303 Stainless Steel
  • Head Weight: 350g
  • Finish: Polished
  • Toe Hang: 3/4
  • Face: GameFace Milling
  • Length Tested: 34.5"
  • Price: $415.00

Looks

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Ricky Johnson has done an excellent job of taking the classic Anser blueprint and tweaking it to make something with original character.

My initial visual thought was clean. I think that is the best way to describe my overall impression of the putter. There is a level of precision that is right up there with the best that I have seen. I know that we have a computer to thank for much of the milling precision - and the milling is precise - but it's the computer's job to cut what the designer tells it to cut. It still takes vision.

I love the shape of the bumpers on this putter. They are smooth and flowing, yet sharp and crisp at the same time. That dichotomous nature permeates the putter. It's quite blocky, but at the same time round and smooth. There are sharp angles on the neck, but the neck itself bends fluidly. The curving bumpers become quite linear at address, again marrying the curve and the corner.

All in all, it works quite nicely for my eye.

Should the polished metal look not be your cup or tea, there is also a black version available, but you will pay more for that finish. I did experience some glare with this one when the sun was over head.

Feel

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My favorite part of testing a putter is hitting a ball with it for the first time. The materials and the visual geometry set the expectation stage for that first strike, but often times that impact is surprising.

With the 303 stainless steel, I expected a firm response from the putter, and it was there, but this putter really doesn't feel like your traditional stainless Anser variant. I believe that there are two main things contributing to the unique feel of this putter: the lack of cavity, and the face milling.

The lack of a cavity places a whole bunch of metal behind the ball at impact. Because of this, you don't get a firm, trampoline-like impact off of the face. Instead, this bulk plows through the ball. Now that may sound harsh, but it's actually much smoother, and softer than I expected.

Migrate from the center of the Five-0-Six Tour, and you will feel the difference. Heel and toe shots are very dull and clunky compared to those in the middle. We will address the results of those off-center shots in a moment, but know that impact feedback will let you know immediately where you hit the ball on the face. Spend some time with this and you may actually figure out how to hit that center spot over and over. That's my goal.

The GameFace milling also plays a role in softening up the impact feel, as deep face milling tends to do. The real story with the GameFace though is performance, and we will get to that shortly as well.

Alignment

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By now many of you know that my personal preference for alignment lines is no alignment lines. I dabble in lines and dots, but I tend to return to the naked in the end.

If you check out the putters in Ricky Johnson's corral, you will see that all of them feature the dot and line alignment system. Since this is obviously a consistent design element in Mr. Johnson's putters, I went with it, curious about what impact it would have on my aiming.

For a while, it was a nightmare. Not because there was anything wrong with the line and dot, but because I had it in my head that there was some secret angle that I needed to put the putter head at to get the magic alignment coordination between dot and line. Remember, I frequently roll naked. Dots and lines confuse me.

After having the epiphany that the dot and the line are always lined up if I address it correctly, the mental roadblock went away, and I found that the combo was actually pretty helpful. The dot is really just an extension of the line. Since it is up near the ball, the overall impression for me is that it was very easy to get the ball and the putter centered together.

It's an interesting system, and for some, the alignment duality may be just what is needed to hit the target line, and hopefully the cup. Add a dot to your current putter's topline and check it out for yourself. Odds are you'll see the difference at address, and you may even like it.

My only alignment concern comes from the bumpers that I like so much. Not having the two levels of the bumpers finish at the same spot is a bit distracting. Sometimes it's nice to have the even bumper edges as an additional, yet subtle, alignment tool.

Playability

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You are going to have to wait for this year's Most Wanted Putter test to get a true gauge of the Five-O-Six Tour's performance. I know that sounds like me passing the buck, but the overall accuracy of a test cohort is a better way to measure performance than just yours truly rolling balls solo. We will hold final performance judgement until then.

However, I'm still going to mention a couple of things that I found notable when rolling the rock. Hey, that's what I'm here for.

First and foremost, this face is hot! Sure, most of the time "hot face" is a driver descriptor, but Ricky Johnson has really found a way construct the face so that it really gets the ball moving. I'm going to go out on a limb and give that roll promotion credit to the grooves.

I wish I had a high-speed camera. You know, like the one Nike used when the first showcased the roll of their then-new Method line. The tag line there was that the grooves, and polymer, got the ball rolling faster. That means less slides, hops, or skids, and thus should producing a more accurate roll.

As I said, I wish that I had a fancy, fast-shutter video system, because I believe that the GameFace gets the ball rolling incredibly fast. Like before you even hit the ball fast. There is zero chaos after impact, just roll. Sure, maybe it's just my pure putting stroke, but I know my stroke, and thus I'm going with the grooves.

Getting back to the heel and toe hits, distance loss off of the heel and toe is minimal, and the ball tracks dead straight. It got to the point where I tried to cut across the ball to hit curving shots, but the ball just wants to roll straight forward.

I'm sure that some of you are going to blast shots past the hole when you first roll this putter. I know I did. But once I got the feel for it, it was actually pretty nice to know that it didn't take as much to get the ball to the hole.

Welcome to the Corral Mr. Johnson

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I mentioned earlier that the putter market seems to be the market where space exists for new companies to enter the golf equipment game because making a putter seems like it's easier than making a driver. However, while entering the putter game may be "easy", surviving and profiting is a whole different challenge.

The $325-$515 price range for a Ricky Johnson custom putter puts them right in the big leagues, battling the big names. Personally, I really like what Ricky has done. There are a whole bunch of unique features with this Five-O-Six Tour that separate it from the other putters out there. But is that enough to survive, and take some of the coin from the big putter players? That I can't tell you. I've got to watch and see just like everyone else.

I will say though that Mr. Johnson makes a fine putter. The quality is top shelf, it's unique enough to peacock to your friends, and it has some real tech that may actually help us putt better. That seems like a recipe for success to me.

Find out more at Ricky Johnson Custom Putters site HERE