The blade putter was the only option for golfers for the best part of a century, up until the 1970s. One of the most famous models was a Wilson-inspired design by Arnold Palmer, and in 2022 we see the return from the company as part of their premium Staff Model range which features four iconic head shapes.
The 8802 is a 'true blade' putter shape, with no alignment aids, oversized shaping or performance enhancing elements.
It is what a putter used to look like and it is pretty much unchanged from the models we saw 70 years ago. It is a style and shape that we very rarely see used these days, either on TV or at local golf clubs. I can only think of Phil Mickelson who has used this type of blade shape at times during his career.
As you might imagine there isn't a great deal of technology to talk about in this head apart from the metal itself. It is a 100% precision milled 304 stainless steel with heel-toe weighting to both optimise feel and improve the roll.
The face features 'horizontal flywheels' which sit on top of a skimmed milled face.
This iconic blade shape has a shaft over hosel design, which adds to the sleek and smooth look of this putter as the transition from shaft into head is seamless.
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Wilson Staff Model 8802 Putter Review
Looks and Feel
This is a minimalist slimline blade shape with no fancy features, just the steel milled finish and the Wilson branding on the back of the putter head. It's a modern take on a classic design.
At address this looks different to all of the other designs that I have been used to testing over the years, and the simplicity may be daunting to some. The lack of bulk or weight behind the head and the absence of the alignment aid means that you really have to think for yourself.
Centring the ball and lining up the putter head took on a whole new meaning, it was very much down to trusting my own eyes and my own adjustments.
I decided to stand more like Jack Nicklaus with a narrow stance, hands pushed forwards and right hand below left, which is nothing like how I set up with my own putter.
The elegance of the head was divine and the design actually helped free up my stroke as there was less to distract me.
Back in the day this was the first putter that didn't make the clicky noise, it's safe to say the quietness and the softness of the forged blade feel has remained.
Compared to my own current putter which has an insert, the 8802 had a more positive strike and the roll was brilliant too. The feedback you received was instant through the head and shaft into the grip, so you knew if you hit the ball off-centre as there was a lack of forgiveness.
The heel-toe weighting allows the face to open in the backswing and close in the downswing which suits more of an arc shape. As I said before I had adapted straight away when picking up this club, as my usual arc is straighter.
When discussing feel I also need to mention the grip too. It was a Lamkin which is a good quality grip, however I didn't think it suited the blade head. The grip needed to be thinner, more velvet-like to complement the gorgeous head.
Worst of all, the grip wasn't quite straight so that made it harder to line the face up. This is not ideal, especially when paying nearly £400 per club.
Out on the course, my pace wasn't as good as I would've liked as I was hitting putts too hard to start with. The roll was good, with the ball rolling end over end when I struck it out of the sweet spot.
I tested this club directly against my own Odyssey 2-Ball with a head-to-head match over six holes on the putting green at Stockport GC. The 8802 lost by two strokes, and when analysing this result it was due to a couple of things.
Firstly, if I hit the putt out of the screws it flew past the hole. It felt brilliant, although my four footer back however did not.
Moving on to those short putts... mentally when standing over them I had a more negative approach. I felt I had to be perfect for the ball to go in. It was all on me without much help from the putter in terms of alignment and forgiveness.
I felt like I had to hit the ball out of the middle of the face which helped to concentrate my mind, however I did miss more than I normally do.
The good shots were amazing in feel, feedback and accomplishment. But I needed more consistency and help. The blade highlighted my weaknesses of hitting the ball out of the toe and closing the club face.
Wilson Staff Model 8802 Putter Verdict
The Wilson Staff Model 8802 was a fun trip back into the history of the game. It reminded me of how hard golf must've been with this style of putter, steel shafts, persimmon heads and balata golf balls.
It isn't forgiving at any point of the process from setup to impact. This relies on the golfer's attributes to align the face to the target and then return the face to the target.
The weighting is definitely better and the head is more stable than the blades of the past, but there is still not enough MOI to help secure the face rotation. With a blade head it is almost encouraged, proving that you can get performance enhancement in a putter as well as in a driver.
This putter is for players who feel their putts, they like to feel the head in their hands which is why I would recommend changing the grip to something thinner. You also need to have a stroke which is reliable and returns the head to square and the ball to the centre of the face.
Just like when using true bladed irons, you need to be an exceptional striker to use this head. I was impressed with the looks and the workmanship. It oozes style, but then it should do for the extortionate price.
I struggle to comprehend how this putters has gone up in price by over £200 since its 2014 re-release, unless it is aimed predominantly at collectors.
Wilson is one of the oldest and most successful golfing brands and I admire their commitment to history. But the price just blows my mind!
Who Is It Aimed At?
The Wilson 8802 is historically one of the most famous putters in the history of golf, and for this reason it is a collectors item rather than a club I would suggest golfers to use to improve their putting on the course.
For those of you looking to a throwback it is great to play a few holes with from time to time, especially if you were going to play a historic golf course like Prestwick or an Open venue.
Would I Use It?
No. I will stick to my 2-Ball and receive all the performance help I can get!
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