The TaylorMade TP Black Copper Collection Soto putter with the distinctive dark finish that helped Rory McIlroy turn around his putting this spring is now part of a line the company will be introducing Friday.
The TaylorMade TP Black Copper Collection comes in four shapes, including McIlroy’ Soto blade with a curved neck and heel and toe weighting. The other models include a traditional heel-toe weighted L-neck blade (Juno), a scooped-out, winged mallet with an L-neck (Ardmore 3L) and a traditional half-mallet shape with double bend shaft (Mullen DB). Only the Mullen DB is face-balanced. The remaining three models have some degree of toe hang, ranging from just slight on the Ardmore 3L (12 degrees) to more substantial on the two blades (36 degrees on the Juno) and the most toe-hang on the putter McIlroy uses (47 degrees on the Soto). Headweights range from 346 grams on the two blades, to 350 grams on the Ardmore 3L and 355 grams on the Mullen DB.
According to TaylorMade's Bill Price, senior director of product creation for putters and wedges, the distinctive black finish with hints of copper grew from experiments in creating a worn, "old-school" look in the final polishing process. The black chrome plating lies overtop a copper plating in the middle layer.
"It comes down to deciding how you want to polish it and what sections you want to reveal, and then, of course, you have to figure out how you can replicate it consistently," he said, noting that the sole of the putter can wear differently based on the user so that every player's putter could have a different look on the sole over time.
McIlroy, who has experimented with the full gamut of TaylorMade putters since joining the company a year ago, has used everything from the popular Spider mallet to a heel-toe Anser style blade (Juno) and half-mallet (Mullen) in the TP Collection’s original satin finish. He made the changed to the TP Black Copper Soto prior to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, winning that week with a final round 64 and gaining 10 strokes on the greens vs. the field for that week.
He switched to a length of 34.25 inches, a touch longer than what he had been playing but more similar to the lengths of putters he’s used to win multiple majors. Price said that change came after McIlroy spent some time at TaylorMade's putter fitting lab. That visit showed McIlroy was "significantly better lined up to the target" with the longer length than with the 33-inch length he'd been using recently.
“[That] sort of lets me just be a little more comfortable with it,” McIlroy said. “I'm not quite as stiff and wooden and, so, just a couple little things and basically just went back to a length and a sort of feel that I have had success with.”
Each model features a grooved aluminum insert for soft feel and better initial roll. (McIlroy uses a custom version of the insert in his putter that's softer than the standard version.) The body is made of triple-plated 303 cast stainless steel. Heel and toe sole weights can be optimized by the fitter to adjust head weight for shaft-length and fitting purposes.
The TaylorMade TP Black Copper Collection putters will be in stores Friday ($220).