TaylorMade has unveiled a new species of spider: the Spider FCG.
While this mallet putter definitely shares some DNA with its Spider ancestors, the FCG may be better categorized as an evolutionary offshoot. You will recognize classic Spider characteristics such as multi-material construction and a True Roll insert. However, you’ll quickly discover that the Spider FCG is truly living on a different web.
Putting Your Best Face Forward
The most significant design change with the Spider FCG is indicated in its name. “FCG” stands for Forward Center of Gravity. Those of you familiar with Spider design, and mallet design in general, will see that this is a departure from convention. Typical mallet design pushes the weight rearward and outward. This boosts MOI and ultimately causes the center of gravity to be towards the back of the putter.
It’s one of the greatest differences between mallet and blade putters. Blades feel like blades and mallets feel like mallets because of the overall distribution of head weight. A putter is going to feel different if the mass is at the face, like a blade, or inches behind the face, like a mallet.
But what if you took a mallet and pushed most of the weight forward?
A Mallet That Feels Like A Blade
With the Spider FCG, TaylorMade flipped the weight distribution story. Traditional Spiders, like my beloved purple Spider Tour, feature perimeter weighting through steel exoskeletons and weights mounted in the back corners. With the Spider FCG, the majority of the weighting has moved to the front.
Does that mean the Spider FCG has more blade-like weight distribution? It does. And that is the whole point.
Convincing blade players to play more forgiving mallets has been a theme in the past few putter cycles and not just for TaylorMade. Odyssey has made a huge push toward increasing mallet play by offering their mallets with slant-neck options. Many recognize this as a move to compete with the mallet popularity boom initiated by the TaylorMade Spider Tour mallets. One can argue the origin but many players have made the mallet move.
Big-name pros had/have slant-neck Spiders in play. You have Rory with his Spider X and J-Day and DJ bagging red and black Spider Tours, respectively. DJ even returned to his Spider after winning an event with the Truss. Truthfully, this decision baffles me. Maybe shaving his beard indicates a lapse in judgement. I’m no tour pro but if you win with a particular putter, perhaps it’s prudent to keep using it.
Regardless, the Spider Tour was the mallet that got mallets noticed and moved mallets into a played by good players category.
The Spider FCG is Not the Spider Tour
To me, the most interesting thing about the Spider FCG design is that it is not just a tweaking of previous Spiders. They could have pushed some edges around and released a 2.0 version of the Spider Tour. Instead, they developed the CG-forward design.
When you look at the Spider-typical multi-material components, it is easy to see how all the mass was moved up front. The weight plugs are up front. The adjustable weight is up front. There is even a new solid copper Pure Roll insert that helps to move the weight to the front of the face. This weight shift is intended to give the Spider FCG a more blade-like feel by giving it a more blade-like center of gravity.
The Spider FCG will also feature three neck options to help you select a putter that fits your stroke. Players already using a mallet may go for the minimally single-bend neck. The short slant-neck and L-neck options will likely be a better fit for arcing-stroke blade players looking to try a mallet.
Why Make it a Mallet at all?
This is a valid question. If all of the design innovation is to make the Spider FCG like a blade, why not just make a blade? TaylorMade has made a Spider Blade in the past. The advantage of keeping it a blade is that while the Spider FCG has more blade feel, it still has a mallet shape and mallet characteristics. Two-thirds of the mass may be forward but that still does allow one-third of the mass to be rearward. This posterior mass will elevate the MOI and forgiveness of the Spider FCG above that of a traditional blade putter.
Optically, retaining the larger mallet profile allows TaylorMade to incorporate more overt alignment designs into the Spider FCG. There is no way you could fit the T-Sightline True Path™ aiming design on a blade. That Big T alignment graphic is not going to fit in a blade cavity. Less tangible, perhaps, is the fact that some people like looking down at the profile of a mallet at address. The goal of the Spider FCG, in my opinion, is to gain some blade converts without alienating traditional mallet players.
Does The Spider FCG Design Work?
You will have that answer when these putters hit your local shop on Sept. 4.
I am interested to hear what those of you already gaming Spiders feel about them, as well as blade players. Does the Spider FCG feel as comfortable as your blade putter? Is it at least more comfortable than a traditionally weighted mallet? What do mallet players think of the mallet look with blade feel? Does it work or does your brain hiccup a bit at the duality?
We may also be able to get an idea about the Spider FCG’s niche by looking at the Most Wanted Mallet performance of the Cleveland Frontline putters. During the 2020 mallet test, the Cleveland putters finished middle of the pack. Granted, the weight-forward designs from Cleveland and TaylorMade are by no means identical. They also feature very different alignment patters and faces. That being said, it does give us a loose initial performance baseline. I’m definitely interested to see how the unique design aspects of the Spider FCG influence performance.
Find out more about the Spider FCG at TaylorMadegolf.com.