Nike Unitized Putters

Look Ma’ no seems!

When the Nike engineers set out to innovate, they don’t pull many punches. And as with previous products like Sasquatch, Sumo, and Slingshot, they usually find a word that describes the product perfectly. The Unitized putter line is no exception to either of the aforementioned.

Unitized:
u-nit-ized verb. [yoo-ni-tahyzed]: to form or combine into one unit, as by welding parts together.

From a distance, the Unitized line looks like any other putter line out there, until you get in close and realize that the shaft and head are seemingly the same piece of material. The process of ‘Unitization’ is done by joining the shaft and head by welding them together, and then smoothing out the weld before the entire unit is nickel plated. The process makes a very unique putter that is supposed to give the user superior feel. We’ll see about that later.

There are four Unitized putters. The Tempo, Retro, Neo, and Techno. We’ve seen Tempo-style heads before (coughPingAnserTwocough) and the Retro is a throw-back to older TP Mills style heads, but the Neo and Techno are a design that Nike can call their own. Don’t hold your breath to see anyone copying the Neo or Techno on tour any time soon. I think Nike is safe with those two for a while.

The thought behind the Tiempo HAS to be to sway Tiger to a Nike putter, instead of the Scotty Cameron GSS Newport II that he’s been using for 10 of his 11 majors’again, don’t hold your breath. The Tiempo is nice, but I don’t think we’ll see Tiger with one of these in his bag any time soon. (More debate on that subject in the forums section of CameronCollector.com.)



Craftsmanship:
CNC milling machines are able to reproduce whatever design you give it. That’s about where the craftsmanship ends here. It’s a neat design, but it’s very ‘cold’ feeling. I want a relationship with my putter, and this is one putter that I can’t see getting to know all that well. The shaft is made in the USA, but the head is made, and the putter is assembled in China. (Proving once and for all that it’s not one big piece of material, as one website pre-maturely reported a few months ago.)

Material:
According to the Nike website, the heads for the entire Unitized line are constructed with a CNC milled 303 Stainless Steel. The finish keeps the putter relatively maintenance free or, for those of us in the mid-west, unrustable. The only problem I have with this, is that my ‘test magnet’ sticks to the putter head. I THINK this is due to the plating procedure, but I could be wrong. Nike has the material listed as 303 Stainless, so that’s what we’ll go with. I have to send this one back, or I’d take a band saw to it and see what we were REALLY dealing with. (Anyone that wants to send me one to saw in half is welcome to.)

Finish:
In your hands, it takes a second to get used to the look of the putter. It’s shine-matte finish is very unique. I used it on an overcast day, but I can’t imagine a situation where you’d have to worry about glare on this finish. The putter-shaft combo is plated at the same time, so the ‘unitzation’ is seamless.

Headcover:
Nike missed the boat here, BIG TIME. When you are reaching for your putter, there are few things more annoying than trying to figure out how to get your putter out of it’s cover. This one makes me not even want to put it on the putter, thus, defeating the purpose of the cover. Why manufacturers continually think they need to make this a complicated procedure is beyond me.

Grip:
Again we see a custom Winn grip on a $250+ putter. This one is matched to the Unitized color schemes, and has the ‘flat front’ that I like. I find that reinforcing the proper alignment is something that a lot of people can benefit from.

Address:
At address, the putter really looks no different than any other putter. You don’t notice the lack of a cup for the shaft to go into. Quite frankly, if you are focusing on that in the first place, I’ve got a tip that’ll take a few strokes off your game!

The thin top-line of the Tiempo is very appealing to me. (I’ve putted with a few of Tiger’s backup putters, and can tell immediately what they were trying to do.) Retro users can get a similar look in the Scotty Cameron Circa 62 line, or any of TP Mills’ putters. The Neo and Techno are going to be an acquired taste, so I wouldn’t suggest buying one of them for someone unless they specifically ask for one.

Feel:
The whole reason for the Unitized line is to “transmit vibrations that have been engineered to resonate with the natural sensory systems.” What EXACTLY that means, is beyond me. I think the ‘English’ version of that is “we are trying to promote feel between you and the ball. When I first struck a ball with the Tiempo, I immediately felt what they were going for, but I’m not so sure that it’s a good thing. Feeling EVERYTHING isn’t something that I think I want in a putter. The feel of these putters is a little too robotic for my taste. I think if it were a solid carbon head, you may get a little softer feel. This could be the missing link, or maybe not.

“Skip to the end Overall:
Hand me $300 and tell me to go get a putter real quick, and I’m going to come back with something else. If I was given a Unitized putter, I’d take it out now and then for sport, or maybe the local putt-putt course once in a while. I appreciate the innovations that Nike made with this putter, but I don’t think it’ll be adopted as well as they think.

The feel is fantastic, but it’s VERY cold feeling. If you told me it were made of granite, I’d believe you. The lines are hard, the material is brisk, and the overall presentation makes me think more ‘Robot’ than ‘Friend’. When I’m standing over a 6 footer, the last thing I want to think is that my putter doesn’t care if I make it or not.

Ratings
Craftsmanship: 4
Feel: 8
Headcover: 2
Grip: 8
Address: 7
Overall: 4.2
Stats
MSRP: $250
Length:33,34,35
Loft:
Lie:
Head Weight: Hard to tell exactly.
Swing Weight:
Material: 303 Stainless Steel…that’s somehow magnetized.
Grip: Winn
Manufacturing Type: CNC Milled, then “Unitized”
Made In: Head and Assembly in China, Shaft by TrueTemper in USA
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