Regulars followers will know that I recently met with CEO John Solheim in Ping's Gold Putter Vault, which has now inspired them to created a new range of milled putters called the Vault.
Just to be clear the inspiration came from the vault and not my visit and sadly the confirmation of this came when the samples of the new Vault putter came in one of the best PR boxes to arrive at Golfalot HQ this year. At least I can now claim to have my very own gold putter vault.
What has emerged from this vault is a range of premium milled putters that take Ping's variable depth face pattern to the next level. First seen in the True Roll (TR) putters in 2013, the grooves are deeper in the middle and shallower towards the heel and toe reduce any loss of speed from off centre hits and hopefully enable you to hole more putts.
In the past the TR putters had straight lines across the face, but the Vault putters have a milled circular design that creates a criss cross pattern in the middle. From a distance it looks like the worn spot the pro's get on their irons and looks pretty cool.
Ping has also recognised the trend towards fatter non-tapered grips and all the Vault putters come with the new Ping Pistol PP62 grip that is made from a soft tacky polymer and weighs 68g, which is about 20g less than the usual Ping rubber grip.
It is quite a generous size at just under 3cm wide down most of the grip with a wider pistol section at the top. The combination of the non-tapered lower section and the subtle pistol upper section gives you a very secure hold on the putter, although I am not sure how long it will stay white for.
As you would expect, the thicker grip does tone down the feel in your hands at impact a little. However, If you prefer a standard grip or even Ping's adjustable length grip and shaft then they are also available, with the adjustable option costing an extra £24 on an already pretty steep RRP of £275.
The initial range offers a choice of two blade and mallet heads both of which come with a classy magnetic closure cover.
Ping Vault Anser 2 Blade Putter Review
There are two models in the Vault blade range, the classic Anser 2 and the new Voss. They both weigh 350g and are milled from a single billet of 303 Stainless Steel and come in Platinum or a darker Slate PVD finish.
Essentially they are pretty similar heel/toe weighted designs with the Voss featuring a sloped rather than stepped design on the back and the Anser 2 a 'modern square silhouette' of the original.
Both come with 3° loft and the 70° lie can be adjusted +/- 4° on a head that that is designed for a stroke with a slight arc.
The feel from the all metal head is firmer than other premium all steel putters and the sound feedback is excellent, which is ideal for today's softer golf balls.
To be a good putter you need good feedback and the Vault Anser 2 gives you plenty of that through your ears and that will help improve your game.
The new milled face pattern looks a lot classier than the horizontal lines of the TR and the looks, sound and feel of the Vault Anser 2 is for me a true heir to the crown of the original brass or manganese bronze Ansers that took the golf world by storm in the 1960s and '70s.
To be honest it is tough to judge whether the off centre hits go as far as the centre strikes but the theory makes sense and certainly putts seem to be pretty consistent wherever you hit it on the centre area of the face.
Ping Vault Oslo Mallet Putter Review
The Vault mallet putters are constructed from a fully-machined 6061 T-6 aluminium body coupled with a cast 17-4 stainless steel soleplate. There are two models in the range called the Oslo and the Bergen, again available in a Platinum or Slate PVD finish.
The Bergen is the deeper of the two and features a raised sight line that goes to the front of the face, similar to the Ping Ketch, but without the two extra small alignment lines.
I tested the Oslo which is the same 365g weight as the Bergen and is a more mid-sized mallet with a cavity back where the alignment line is.
As there is less material in the aluminium body of the head the 17-4 stainless steel sole plate weighs 215g compared to 135g in the larger headed Bergen to even out to the same total.
The sole is very well balanced as when you put it down at address it holds its position so that it does not fall back on its tail like some other mallet putters. This means you are less likely to inadvertently add to the 3° loft at address. The lie is the same as the blade at 70° and can be adjusted +/- 2°.
Compared to the Anser 2, the Olso felt a little heavier to swing and as a result will suit not only those with a slight arc, but also those with a straight stroke who prefer a little more stability. The straight stroke putters are just the same with the double bend shaft bent a little to accommodate the different stroke path.
Again the prominent sound and balance were excellent and the clean lines and easy alignment make this an excellent putter for anyone who prefers mallets over blades.
A prototype of the Oslo is already in the real gold putter vault as it was used by Brook Henderson to win her first major at the 2016 KPMG Women's PGA Championship and all the models in the Ping Vault line are worthy of carrying the heritage of the room in Phoenix, Arizona where the gold putters are.