Nike putters. There have been some good ones through the years, thinking specifically of the Unitized line from a few years back. The were excellent putters that had all of the construction features that putter freaks look for in a high end stick. Forged, then milled 303 stainless, interesting head shapes, and laser welding process that was touted as a way to improve response and feel. The problem was that the line came in at a MSRP of $249. At the time, this was the price of the off the rack Scotty Camerons. The Unitized may have been great putters, but they just were not able to snatch that market share from Scotty.
Then a few years later, Nike released the first Method putters. These great putters could have gone the way of the Unitized, except one little event occurred. Tiger dropped his Scotty for a Method 001. Did this boost demand? Did Mike sell Gatorade? The pre-sale of numbered Methods sold out, and the regular Methods were just as successful at finding the bags of the casual golfer. The line was a hit. Then came the Method Core line. Nike kept the groove technology of the Method, but added in an additional red plastic insert. The Method Core line had some unique head shapes and was competitively priced at about $150. However, I thought that the addition ofthe red insert took some of the aesthetics away from the previous Method line. The do roll the ball quite well, but I just didn’t feel that they were truly Methods.
Then comes the Method Midnight. I saw some sneak picts of the Method Midnight on mygolfspy.com this spring and I knew that Nike had spun the Method line back toward those original models. The Method Midnights are red insert-free, feature a new black finish. My first impression was that Nike had recaptured the spirit of the original Method line.
Premium Dark Chrome. That’s what Nike calls the finish on the Method Midnight. For me, that was the first thing that jumped out at me about the putter. If last year was the year of the white driver, this year definitely seems like the year of the black putter. Not only are these Nike putters now sporting the black finish, but the new Camerons are also all black. In comparing the two black finishes, I definitely prefer the Nike finish over the Cameron black finish. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Black Misted finish on the new Camerons. I have almost taken a Golo S home with me from the shop more than once this spring. I simply like the Nike Dark Chrome finish more. The finish is very rich and lustrous, but not too shiny, or glare generating in the light. If you look at the photos in this review, you can see how the finish changes in different light conditions. It seems to darken in bright light and brighten when the light gets low. Not sure how this is possible, I am just reporting what I experienced. I do think that the finish brings some richness back to the Method line that the plastic red insert took away. Case in point, one of my playing partners saw the putter and said “now, that looks like an expensive putter”.
I was also attracted to the head shape of the 008. It reminds me a great deal of the Cameron Del Mar 3. I guess we could call it kin to a Del Mar 3 notchback. The 008 is definitely more of a cousin than a twin though. The 008 looks amazing at address. The sweeping curves at the toe and heel really draw the eye toward the center of the putter. Once there, the notch and the sight line provide the precise targeting needed to get the ball aimed correctly. While many of you know that I am not a huge fan of the sight line, this one seems a bit more functional to me, perhaps because of the black color on the chrome finish. Maybe I just can’t see it as well, so it doesn’t mess with me as much as lines usually do. :) Regardless, I think that the Method Midnight is an aesthetic home run. This putter looks great, and perhaps more importantly for Nike, it has the looks to compete with the other high price putters in the market. Even the grip and the headcover look great.
On The Course
So how does it play? Honestly, due to the toe hang on the 008, I expected to struggle a bit on the green with this putter. My toe hang preference is around face balanced, and the 008 comes in at 34•. The 007 is face balanced, but I know that a center-shafted blade is not really for me. Anyway, lets talk about rolling the ball. The Polymetal Groove technology does soften the impact feel of this putter, but the fact that the steel face is right there as well prevents the putter from feeling mushy. One of the things that I really like about the groove system is that the ball starts rolling immediately. I don’t remember any hopping of the ball as it came off the face. The ball just goes. Be careful of this on fast greens. With the Method Midnight, you don’t need to swing the putter to your ear to get the ball moving. It was also interesting to hit some balls off of the heel and toe, trying to get a feel for the effect of the grooves (and cavity, of course). The putter definitely feels dead off the toe, but the ball still moves on line. I think that this will be a great benefit on those short, downhill putts.
While I do look more toward face balanced putters when matching my stroke, it was very easy for me to transition to the slight arc of the Method Midnight 008. The weighting is excellent, with tungsten plugs in the heel and toe bringing the head weight up to 345 grams. Personal preference would be closer to 355 grams, but the 008 still swung with some good heft. The balance of the putter and the flow neck promote a gentle open and closing of the face as it swings on the arc. As I usually find with flow necks, my putting performance improved with a bit of hands forward set-up. Once I compensated for the hot roll of the Polymetal Grooves, I found distance control to be excellent with the 008. Targeting was pretty good, though not as good as my face balanced, line-less gamer. That’s no fault of the 008 though. That’s like blaming size 32 pants for not fitting your size 36 waist. I think that my dream version of the Method Midnight would be a heel-shafted, face balanced, line-less version of the 007. A nice double-bend shaft and midsized grip would be ideal. Just give me a call Nike and I’ll drop by the Oven to help out with the design…
I usually talk about the headcover and the grip on the putter in the Aesthetics part of the review, but in addition to their great looks, these definitely have some performance impact. I love the design of the headcover with the back being solid, and the magnetic closure is underneath. Brilliant. At no point did the headcover even sniff falling off. The Method grip by Golf Pride has a great feel. The “Polymetal” patterned cutouts on the underside feel great on the fingers. The grip has a soft, tacky rubber feel. It was just a bit small for my hands though. A midsized version would be an amazing option.
With the Method Midnight, I believe that Nike has again found the right direction with the Method line. The Method should be all about this kind of high-end craftsmanship and performance. Drop the “Method” name from the Core line. When someone thinks Nike Method, this is what they should only think of. Nike definitely has a winner on its hands again. Hopefully the Method Midnights will get the play that they deserve.
Find out more about the Nike Method Midnight line: HERE