Bubba Watson is one of the biggest feel players in golf so it's no surprise that to be comfortable on the course his equipment has to feel right and look right. In the past he has had different finishes but for his latest putter he requested a change that took the Ping Anser back to its roots.
During my visit to Ping HQ in Arizona I met with John Solheim, Ping CEO, Chance Cozby, Vice-President Sports Development and Christian Pena, Head PGA Tour Rep to find out what Bubba's Dot System was and how they took this on board to make his Custom Milled Anser putter.
On Bubba's Dot System Anser Putter
Chance Cozby: Bubba has been a long time player of Ping as he started using the B60 early in his golfing life at about the age of 8 or 9 and then he moved into the Anser putter once he turned pro. He has used an Anser milled with a rainbow finish for several years - he won the 2012 and 2014 Masters with that Anser milled putter.
He came into the office and did a commercial shoot for us and spent some time in the putter lab and we told him we had been working on some ideas and wanted to make him a new Anser. He was open to that and was ready for a fresh look and whilst we were working on it he told us he wanted to get away from the alignment line in the cavity and instead he wanted to put a dot on the top line.
When he takes the putter back he wanted to remove the distraction of seeing that line so we did that for him and when he came back to pick up the putter he self proclaimed the new look the “dot system”. After his latest win I’ve had sales reps calling me all day asking what the “dot system” is and have had to explain that there isn’t much more to it than Bubba calling it that.
When we were making the putter for him it really took us down the path of head weights and the thickness of the top line and when he picked up the first putter he loved the way it looked but it felt a little light and the top line looked a little thin so he asked if we could make him another model.
So we made another model that was a bit heavier with a little thicker top line to the face and that model was a bit heavy, although he’s won with it, so the version we have ready for him now is the third putter.
John Solheim: If you look at the original Anser putter there is no line in the back of the cavity as that only came with the Anser 2, but for a long period of time in Karsten’s later years he wouldn’t let us put any lines on special order putters, he had us put dots on them.
When you think about it, somebody who focuses as much as Bubba does on a shot, with a line if he is going open to closed he is seeing that line move, where with a dot he is playing right to a centre point.
Chance Cozby: Jason Gore is another of our Staff players and he is playing with an original Scottsdale Anser that he purchased in the aftermarket and he played very well at the end of the season and kept his card. John actually looked at that putter and thought it was made in the original 1966 period.
He called after seeing Bubba’s putter and has asked us to make him one like that but has asked that we make it with some ‘soul’ which is what he calls it when he uses the original Scottsdale Anser he just thinks that the putter has such a great story that when he looks down at it he feels that the putter has a soul.
So we’ve got to figure out how to get that into a new putter. One of the things he likes about that original Anser is that all the lines are very soft and he has said he doesn’t want the hosel to be rectangular and sharp.
On Getting The Feel Right For Bubba
Christian Pena: The first Anser putter we built that ended up being the lighter version was 319g and we took that out and played a round of golf with it and Bubba thought it was a lot lighter than the putter he was playing, but he thought it had a great feel and that is where the dot came from.
He is such a feel player in everything he does that he said the line makes him feel a bit mechanical when he gets over the ball as if your eyes are not directly over the ball the line can look like it is going one way or the other.
His eyes are a little bit behind the ball so putting the dot on the top line has freed him up to use his feel. The second one was 339g and then we took ten grams off of it to make it 329g and that is what he is putting with right now and then this one we have ready for him is 323g.
Chance Cozby: Taking the 10g from the face was some of the best work that we have done at Ping Works. The putter that was 339g, Bubba really liked the look and the feel but he thought it was simply too heavy for him to play with and this was before he was going to take off to Tiger’s event so he said can we make him another one.
It was Thanksgiving weekend and nobody was working, so we said if you are not going to use that putter can you just come in for us to adjust it and he came in at 8:30 on a Monday morning and by 11:30 we had taken that putter apart, it had gone back into the machine shop, we had removed 10g of weight, we had put the machine lines back on the face and re-finished the putter, then rebuilt the putter and given it back to Bubba who took it to Tiger's event.
On The Importance Of Feel In Putting
Chance Cozby: I think putting is look and feel. When we are working on drivers, fairways and irons you are always trying to maximise distance and maximise accuracy and forgiveness and you can really see that in the developments in the design and the engineering.
Putting is a different animal and you have to have the feel and be comfortable with the look and the sound so it is not necessarily the highest MOI putter is going to be what you putt best with. Every person is going to be a little bit different so I think that is one of the reasons why the Anser has withstood the test of time.
If you have confidence in the look and the design when you are over the ball you are going to putt better. We were excited to get Bubba out of his current putter with that rainbow pattern – that was actually a prototype he saw in engineering one day and he asked if he could play it – but that is not ideal for us as we didn’t sell it. He’s a top-5 player in the world so we want Bubba to be playing something that is going to be in the market or is already in there.
So the move from the line to the dot gave him confidence and it was cool in his interview after winning where he thanked the engineers from Ping for all the work they’ve done on the putter.
One of the things in our agreements is that our players don’t have to talk about our brand after the round, that was all Bubba, his words so it is all sincere and natural, and they also don’t have to use our newest product so it is our job to work with the players to prove that the new product is better and move them into it that way.
Specs Of Bubba Watson's Ping Custom-Milled Anser Putter
2° face loft head on a 34.5 inch shaft with 69° lie and a PP58 Midsize Black grip.
How Ping Made Bubba Watson's Pink G Driver
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