TPP REVIEW: PING Anser Milled 5

Today at The Putter Place we review the PING Anser Milled 5.

The golf marketplace is competitive.  Shocking statement, huh.  That’s like saying donuts are fattening, duh.  But recognizing the competitive nature of the golf industry is critical for recognizing the accomplishment that companies make when they out compete the others.  Say what you will about the white driver, but its introduction and marketing allowed TaylorMade to crush the driver market last year.  I believe that some of the success came just from being something different.  But what does innovation have to do with PING?

Anyone who doesn’t associate the term “innovation” with PING is not very well versed in golf history.  I have read way too many “who copied who” posts about golf equipment, especially putters.  That being said, rarely will someone argue against the putter innovations, like the Anser, that Karsten Solheim brought to the golf realm.  As with any industry though, your successes in the past can only carry you so far.  Every year, the golf market goes through a huge “What’s New?” reset at the PGA show in Orlando.  If a company wants 2012 dollars, they had better bring 2012 product.  This is exactly what I believe PING has done.  With the Anser Milled series and the iPING app, PING retains their historical pedigree, but infuses it with modern zeal and technology.

OK so in the sense of full disclosure, the Anser Milled series along with the iPING app were released in 2011.  Regardless, PING has put together a product line that allows a customer to feel confident about purchasing a putter, because the iPING app tells you what putter fits your putting stroke.  Club fitting should be a vital part of any golfers game preparation.  If your clubs fit you, you will play better, period.  Now PING has had a great custom fitting system for years.  Many of you know your PING color code for your clubs, and likely PING grips as well.  My first fitted putter ever was a PING MnBr J-Blade, 34.5″ – Green Dot.  I went to a local shop and, working with the pro, got fitted for these specs.  What separates the new iPING system from the old is that now you can perform the majority of the putter fitting on your own.

Five putts and you will know your Putter

That’s it, five putts and the iPING app will tell you what model of Anser Milled you should be playing.  To do this, you will need to purchase the iPING cradle for your iPhone and download the free iPING app.  Slide your phone into the cradle and clip the cradle to the putter shaft and you are ready to go.  Affixing the phone to the putter does, of course, change the weight of the putter.  However, if you pull it up closer to the grip, its overall effect on the swing seems to lessen.  Once you are all set, you just have to fire up the iPING and select iPING FIT.  After you make your five putts, it will tell you what putter best fits your swing.  Here is my data:

I did the fitting a number of times and I consistently came in at the edge of Straight and Slight-Arc.  Once I changed my miss to “right”, the iPING app suggested the Anser 5, switching from the original suggestion of Anser 1.  Look at that, right back to the longneck blade.  Can’t say I was too shocked. :)  When I selected Advanced Fit, I was able to get fit for length, loft, and lie based upon my measurements.  The length part is similar to the web fitting service that PING has offered online for years, but fitting for lie angle is an iPING feature that is groundbreaking.

As you can see below though, my Anser 5 has been lie adjusted to the green dot setting of about 2° up.  In this case, the green dot comes from talking to a golf pro and having him check my lie.  However, the iPING app will tell you this as well.  I went back and purposely swung the iPING affixed putter at upright and flat angles and the app told me different color codes; red, black, and even silver dots.  The black dot measurement in the photo above actually came from putts made with the green dot Anser 5.  I think that this means with the green dot adjustment, I now putt with the head at a standard lie angle.  The tech in the phone that the iPING app taps into is amazing.  It really can tell you what putter is right for you…

Additionally, once you have your putter, you can use the iPING app to measure even more parameters of your stroke including path, face angle, and tempo.  Once you have identified areas that you struggle with, the iPING app can guide you through practice sessions to improve your trouble areas.  I saw one of the local golf pros practicing his putting while using his iPING set-up on the practice green just yesterday.  There is also a Skins Game component that I have not tried yet, but I think that you will definitely find that the depth of the app justifies the price of the cradle.

Anser Milled 5: Aesthetics

The look of the Anser Milled series really says “Classic”, which is what you would expect from PING.  If you look a little closer though, you will see that there is a whole bunch of high tech machining that went into the putter.  The specs are dead on for the modern putter lover:  303 Stainless steel, cool nickel finish, 345g, and customizable to fit your stroke.  Did you know there are other options available as well?  PINGWRX can customize your putter even more.  If you are looking at the TPP orange paintfill and thinking “I like the putter, but not the orange.” you can get a different color.  One of our Putters of the Day was Matt’s Anser Milled 0 that had the blue and white paint.  Paint is only the tip of the customization iceberg available.  Think of it like the secret menu at In ‘n’ Out Burger.  There is so much more available than what you first see on the menu.

Regardless, this is a fine crafted putter.  Precision milling is definitely the rule for this putter.  The milling in the cavity is perfect.  The long milled lines on the face are exact.  I view the name Anser as a core component of the identity of PING.  I think that if you look at the construction of this putter, you will agree that PING also takes the legacy of the Anser very seriously.  The Anser Milled series has all the looks that you would expect to find in PING’s flagship line of putters.

On the Course

So after the fitting and iPING use, how did the putter perform on the course?  In a word, SOLID.  The Anser Milled 5 was immediately comfortable. I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised.  Would you be surprised if you bought a shoes that were the right size for you and then they felt comfortable when you wore them?  Of course not.  The Anser Milled 5 stays nice and square through the stroke, which is what you would expect from a putter that fits someone with a Straight stroke.  On a side note, I love the cord grip that comes standard with the Anser Milled series.  Good looking, great texture with the cord, and still soft and comfortable.  This one replaces the Ping Man as my new favorite PING grip.  If they make it in midsized, I may buy replacements for all of my gamers.

One play feature that did take some adjustment for me was the explosiveness of the face.  Maybe “explosive” is too strong, but the ball moves when it comes off of the face.  Some of the adjustment comes from my recent gaming of carbon and insert putters.  The crispness of stainless always takes me a little adjustment time.  Staying with impact, it is worth mentioning that the ball rolls immediately after impact.  Maybe it is the arrangement of the face grooves.  Maybe it is something else in the construction, I don’t know.  The ball rolls almost immediately without hopping or skidding.  What this allows me to do is to take a nice, controlled stroke and still make the ball reach the hole.  As someone who tends to miss short, this responsiveness was very welcome.  Now my mental image/feel for distance is more in sync with the distance the ball rolls.  The more I practiced with it, the better the speed control became.  I am sure this is the case with putting in general, but the Anser Milled 5 seems to make this an easier project for me.

As a last word about play, I’ll loosely quote my golf instructor Kevin Estrella.  When he rolled some balls with the Anser Milled 5, his response was as follows:  “You know, I roll a lot of putters and every so often I come across one that stands out and makes me go hmmmm.  This putter gave me that feeling.  I think I may have to pick one of these up.”  His golf pedigree is far more extensive than mine, but I have to agree.  In the Anser Milled, PING has definitely created something that stands out and warrants your attention.  Get the iPING app and see which one is right for you.

Don’t fret mallet players we will have a review of the Hunter’s magical new PING Nome coming soon.