The Wilson 8802 is one of the most famous and revered putters in golf history that helped guide legends with names such as Palmer, Nicklaus and Crenshaw to many important victories. Introduced in 1962, the putter’s design was actually inspired by the Tommy Armour 3852S (first produced in 1935) which in turn was based on the Spalding HB (introduced in 1919). Like its forefathers, the 8802 enjoyed a long production run (over 30 years).

But how times change. Fast forward 45 years later, heel-shafted blade putters are the exception, not the rule. And while Crenshaw’s father paid $20 for the 8802 as a gift to his son – who in turn won all but 2 tournaments with “Little Ben” – people are now easily spending over $200 to roll the ball into the cup. But as the saying goes, the more things change the more they stay the same. 2007 sees the return of the 8802 with some extra bells and whistles not seen in the past and at a sub-$100 price point. Will this new incarnation mark the return of a once favored and enduring design. With that, let’s meet the Wilson Staff 8862.

The 8862 features a stainless steel head with milled face and milled aluminum insert. There is a decent amount of heft (by the way, the weight is unpublished), and the brushed satin finish does the job of thwarting the sun’s glare. The simple sight line is useful in setting up to the ball, although misleadin. because of the sweet spot’s location (see next paragraph). The stamps on the face and sole are stately but not gaudy. In general, the 8862 retains the simple yet elegant shape of its predecessor.

The red aluminum face insert with hexagonal milling pattern, however, is in stark contrast to the rest of the putter. It is akin to seeing spinning rims on an antique Rolls Royce. It is understandable that Wilson would use such technology to enhance the 8862’s “soft” feel, especially considering that the sweet spot is located closer towards the heel in such a design. Purists will argue that using an insert is bad enough, so why ruin it completely with something so candy-colored. While this is essentially an aesthetic issue, it is a relatively major one.

This cover is a bit of a disappointment in that it’s a simple neoprene sleeve with Velcro enclosure. Although it does the job of protecting the putter head, the overall effect is to cheapen the look of something associated with such golf-related historical significance. It’s possible that Wilson chose this design to minimize cost and adhere to the targeted retail price. But one could argue that the company should have considered using a smaller blade-style cover offered by someone such as AM&E to enhance the putter’s overall appeal.

The grip is a standard Winn and the stock shaft is a stepless True Temper that are nothing to write home about. The grip is basically what one expects from Winn: decent tack, a touch slippery perhaps. But the Wilson Staff colors look nice on it, and don’t detract from the overall looks of the 8862. It would be nice if Wilson offered a stiffer tipped, lower torque shaft option for those who prefer a firmer feel while putting, but the stock offering is solid enough.

The head’s stainless steel appears to be quite durable and not as susceptible to rust or scratching as carbon steel (again, exact material grade is not published). And the aluminum insert actually works well with the 8862, especially for those wanting a softer feel. However, there are times when it’s a little difficult to tell whether one has missed towards the heel or toe. In addition there is the occasional hollow feel after stroking the ball, so those could be some issues one may have with the 8862.

At address, the sight line and relatively thick top line do give the golfer confidence to get squarely aligned to the ball. The slight shaft offset helps one get a clean look at the ball as well. Looking down, there are subtle differences between the 8862 and 8802 that can be discussed in PutterTalk’s “Community” section. Suffice to say here that at address, one does get the sense that 8862 pays pretty good tribute to its predecessor.

“Skip to the end” Overall:
With regard to overall appeal, it’s safe to say that the 8862 falls short of the 8802…However, in terms of what one can get for less than $100, the 8862 is not bad at all. For those whose stroke and eye favor this style of heel-shafted putter, the 8862 is worth a try. This putter won’t break the bank, and it won’t shatter any glasses, spectacles or monacles…as long as one can get past that face insert.

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Company: Wilson Golf
MSRP: $129.99
Length: 35″
Loft: 3.5-deg
Lie: 72-deg
Head Weight: 335g
Swing Weight: E-3
Material: Stainless – Aluminum
Grip: Winn
Head Cover: Custom
Manufacturing Type: Cast/Milled
Made In: China