TaylorMade putters never really took off in the same way that their woods did until the first Spider design came along ten years ago.
Initially a large high MOI shape, the Spider franchise gained wider acceptance on Tour when Jason Day modified an Itsy Bitsy Spider, which led to the Spider Tour putter in 2017.
Now as a tenth birthday present to itself, TaylorMade has revamped this design to create the Spider X putter.
I have to start with the colours, especially the fantastic Dakota Copper version above, which brings back memories of bronze and brass putters of my youth.
The Midnight Blue version is designed for Dustin Johnson, as navy is his preferred wardrobe colour, but apparently even he picked up the copper version first too, much to the surprise of the TaylorMade team.
However, we need to go beyond the looks, because there is a whole new design to the Spider X putter.
The distinctive Spider 'rocket pods' on the back have been replaced by two blue steel weights on the Spider X that move the mass towards the rear corners of the putter.
These weights are specifically designed for this putter, whereas the previous Spiders all used the weights from the R7 Quad driver. Some may feel that they look a little industrial, but in black you hardly notice them and they are definitely better looking than the pods.
The standard weights are 6g steel in the 34 and 35 inch length putters and 2g aluminium in the 33 inch in order to keep the swing weight the same with the shorter shaft. If you are lucky enough to live in the USA, then TaylorMade can sell you 12g tungsten weights as optional extras. I guess they must like things heavier over there...
The body of the Spider X may look the same from above, but now the steel outer frame houses a central section that is made of carbon composite.
The carbon composite piece weighs 15g instead of the 79g steel section that was in the Spider Tour. The whole Spider X head is actually 73g heavier at 320g, so you can see how more of this mass is pushed to the edges of the head in order to increase the MOI.
Even though the Spider X head is 5% smaller, it has the same MOI as the Spider Tour, which should appeal to players who found the previous shape a little too large.
The Spider X is still 10% bigger than the Spider Mini, so it is a good halfway house between the two models.
All this extra MOI means that if you mishit a putt, it is less likely to lose speed and therefore you have more chance of holing it. On a 12 foot putt, TaylorMade say the best players miss the sweet spot by up to 1.5cm either side from the graphic below.
Therefore if you are hitting the face across a 3cm range, or up to 4cm for higher handicappers, then having a higher MOI head will be more forgiving.
The face insert is made from 80% Surlyn with 20% aluminium flakes incorporated in the mix to give it the same firmer feel as the Spider Tour Black insert.
The insert is now 2mm thicker at 5mm and this extra depth means that the Pure Roll grooves can be deeper.
As before the grooves are at a 45° angle to get the ball rolling quicker with less backspin, so that it is more likely to start on line.
Until the Tour Black insert came along, I was never a fan of the TaylorMade Surlyn inserts, but with the new Spider X version I am converted. The deeper insert gives a more solid sound and feels a little firmer, so that you get good audio feedback to help your judgement of putts.
All of this will get the ball rolling great, but you have to point the head in the right direction, so you need a good alignment aid. Therefore as well as the traditional single line, there is also the option of a black line on a white background.
After much research with the Sports Visual team at Indiana University, the flowing white band, that is half the width of a golf ball, was deemed the optimal shape for better alignment and I have to agree.
When you put it down at address it does frame the ball beautifully and the whole visual stands out and almost takes over your field of view to ensure the face is square. The wide white line flows over the leading edge on to the white face to maintain the alignment through the ball to the target.
The Spider X also comes with a choice of Full or 3/4 hosel offsets, depending on whether you want a face balanced or 30° toe hang putter.
For those with an arc stroke who use blade putters, the 3/4 offset will still give the same closing of the face, but with the benefits of the high MOI design.
This is why the Spider Tour was so successful and for me this is the future of putters. TaylorMade obviously agree as they are only pushing the Spider X as their mallet on Tour this year.
All models come with a SuperStroke Pistol GTR 1.0 grip that fits very well in your hands and comes with customised TaylorMade Spider graphics.
Shafts is not something we usually discuss with putters, but the KBS C Taper Tour putter shaft is worth a mention as it is stiffer and therefore more stable than before. It comes in chrome or black versions and at 124g is heavier too, but you don't feel it, as the extra weight in the head balances it out.
TaylorMade Spider X Putter Verdict
Having been sold on the looks as soon as I saw it, I was sold again on the performance of the Spider X. The roll was excellent and especially on short range putts, you had the same 'can't miss' feeling that you get with the larger Spider models.
On longer putts the more compact weights at the back give it a better balance and a more manageable shape than the larger Spider models, and for this reason I think it will have wider appeal.
The sound and feel from the face is much improved on any previous TaylorMade putter insert. It may have taken them over a decade, but I think they are finally on the right track with their inserts, so long may it continue.
The black on white line design on the crown is very easy to use and combines form with function. However, if it's not your thing, then the cleaner single line is a lower profile alternative.
The only drawback might be that the Spider X is a pricey putter, but for once, I am not sure I really care. For something that looks this good and manages to create a high MOI design in a mid-sized head with easy alignment, I am willing to break the bank.