No, I'm not late to the party, reviewing a club that came out in 1963. In actual fact, I have been trying out the newly-redesigned Wilson Staff 8802 putter.
Whilst modern putters come in all shapes and sizes, the folks at Wilson decided to not try and reinvent the wheel, rather they just redesigned the blade. Having turned 100 in 2014, Wilson Golf didn't want to let such an occasion pass without marking the occasion. Along with the FG Tour 100 irons, they released an updated version of one of the most iconic putters in golf history.
And I was lucky enough to be one of the very first to get my hands on one.
Having just been a twinkle in my Dad's eye when the original came out, I haven't had much experience with it. However, I do remember watching Ben Crenshaw hole just about everything he looked at using the design in the 1990s.
The 2014 version has stay very true to the original with the same iconic blade-looks and lines. The key changes Wilson made were to make the new putter slightly heavier than before, at 335 grams, as well as adding a double milled face. Not only does the milling look good, it makes a big difference when it comes to sound and feel.
Anyone who used the original 8802 or another old-style blade will remember the blunt, sharp "click" noise they made with quite a hard feel. Modern golfers and equipment cater for a softer touch, hence the face milling.
The feel of the 8802 is simply incredible. It's quiet, soft and feels, on the greens, like a sweetly struck forged blade feels like off the fairway.
As someone who has become used to modern putter designs, with a lot of mass positioned back and away from the face, the look of the 8802 at address was daunting. However, after one or two rounds, it's simple, straight look became familiar and I didn't miss any of the larger alignment aids you see on putter designs these days.
The no-nonsense view at address is the view Wilson had when they created this putter. This is not a game-improving, high MOI, counterbalanced, adjustable putter. Far from it. This is an old-style, pure, simple putter that will appeal to those that perhaps remember the original 8802 or fancy a modern take on a classic design.
Whilst the sole of the putter has a glossy, mirror-like finish, the bulk of the putter has a duller, matte finish that helps to reduce reflections and glare. It may seem like a small difference but it shows when you put the putter behind the ball.
As far as performance goes, I was surprised. I expected the 8802, like a blade iron, would be hard to use and suffer on poor strikes. Whilst it certainly doesn't have the forgiveness or stability of a larger, mallet shaped putter, for its size it does very well.
Because of the straight, blade shape it took a while to get used to the feel of the putter during my stroke. The toe is keen to open on the way back and close through impact. Modern putter strokes tend to be straight-back-straight-through. During my first round with the 8802 I must have missed 90% of my misses to the left, as I got used to the free-spirited blade design.
However, it soon grew on me and after two or three rounds I was sold. More and more I felt myself throwing out the modern, textbook putting stance and stroke and getting into a position like Gary Player or Jack Nicklaus and feeling my putts more than hoping the putter would do the work for me.
One nice modern touch on the 8802 is the grip. Wilson Staff have included a Lamkin 3GEN grip that is smoothy, tacky and very comfortable in your hands.
More and more equipment manufacturers are looking back into their history to redesigned trusted designs of old. Few, in my opinion, have done it as well as Wilson. The new 8802 is work of art. The elegant, smooth, classic shape inspires you to hole more putts rather than doing the work for you.
At £129 it is relatively affordable in today's market and is well worth consideration if you are a golf traditionalist or enjoyed using a blade putter in your youth.