Gene Nead “MiNi Nead” Putter Review
“Mini” putters have been something of an anomaly in the high-end putter market for the past few years. When Byron Morgan designed the “Dale-Head 9″ putter in 1991 it wasn’t intended as a collectable, or the start of any kind of putter revolution. It was just a smaller putter. Scotty Cameron had a handfull made for a tour player, and as gifts. One of them entered Putter Lore a few years ago when it was rumored to have sold for $50,000. Bettinardi has his “3/4″ putter that is often sold out minutes after their release. Mini putters are HOT right now.Gene Nead is one of a half-dozen different manufacturers actively making smaller versions of their bread-winners to appeal to the avid collectors. The funny thing that has happened is that people are starting to USE these putters…and they are pretty nice! Some say it’s easier to see what your stroke is doing. Others say it helps targeting. There will also always (always) be those that keep one in the bag for novelty. The Gene Nead MiNi is more than all of the above. This is a serious putter, for serious golfers. (And some not-so-serious guys too!)
For those of you that don’t know who Gene Nead is, break out your favorite search engine, and type “Gene Nead NASCAR” to get an idea of his day-job. Gene is a seasoned NASCAR crew-chief that just so happens to enjoy making putters. Often, when someone makes putters as a hobby, it doesn’t equate to a quality product. There are several exceptions to this, and Gene is certainly one of them. (Having unlimited access to state-of-the-art production facilities doesn’t hurt either.)When we first received this putter from Gene, the first comments were about how soft it looked. The putter head made you want to pick it up and hold it in your hand. The hand-work on the putter from the milling to the welding is of the highest quality. There isn’t a sharp edge on the putter. That gives the user a sort of confidence that this putter wasn’t just cranked off of a mill and sanded down for 2min. One could imagine that there was quality time spent with its maker honing its edges and checking every measurement. The MiNi Nead is one of the “blockier” designs we’ve seen in a while. At the same time, it’s also soft and inviting. The welding skills displayed on the neck of this putter are superior to 99% of the welded necks in the marketplace. Sharp, controlled, uniform welds secure the neck to the body. You can tell that Gene knows what he’s doing with a TIG torch in his hands. Some people want the welds on their putter, others do not. It’s all about personal preference. Looking at the welds on this head, you can tell that the only reason you are seeing them, is because Gene wants you to. I’ll bet if they were cleaned up and the putter was x-rayed, you’d never be able to tell it wasn’t one piece of metal. The face milling is a combination of a few things we have seem before separately. A tight-circle milling pattern, coupled with a non-insert surface reduction that gets the ball rolling quick every time. While the debate continues as to which is better, high-end putter designers are delivering what the consumer/collector is looking for.
As any golfer will tell you, what works for you may not work for the next guy. In our experience, the confidence comes from having a putter in your hands that you believe in, so having Gene Nead make you a putter that is exactly what you were looking for is often more important that what grooves are on the face or the material it’s made from. This putter however, will appeal to the high-end collector that wants to have something special to game. This is an outstanding putter that’ll turn heads without breaking the budget. At a price-point well under $400, you really can’t go wrong with a Gene Nead MiNi.