There is no doubt about the amount of innovation, technology, and thinking outside the box the folks at Nike Golf utilize to try to make golf easier for you. From their use of Sumo Technology for drivers, hybrids, and irons as well as various technological advances used in their golf balls, Nike is not afraid to chuck conventional thinking out the window when coming up with new ideas for golf equipment.
Taking innovation to the next level, Nike is introducing the IC Putters, which utilize some pretty funky technology called "optical engineering," which they hope will help you sink more putts. After getting a look at them, all I can say is, I hope you love the color green.
The IC line of putters was developed by Nike Golf's club design guru, Tom Stites, along with Dr. Alan Reichow (Dr. Al), who holds the title of Global Research Director of Vision Science. According to Nike website:
Dr. Reichow has been at the forefront of sports vision and optemtry for 30 years. His leadership and inventive spirit led to the creation of the Nike MaxSight contact lenses to enhance athletic performance and the Nike Hi-Vis Soccer Ball. For the last few years, Dr. Reichow has been working in partnership with Nike Golf on investigating the role of vision and performance in golf.
If you're inclined to hear about the about the how and why that went into the designing of the IC line of putters and the use of optical engineering, check out the interview under Innovation Story with the man they call Dr. Al.
Nike is using this "optical engineering" to develop a putter that utilizes shapes, colors, and contrast to help you see the alignment aid better in order to sink more putts. They are achieving this in two unique ways:
- Green Total Club Color - The the majority of the club is green. How did Nike determine this? By testing pulled blades of grass from various putting greens to measure the color and reflection. Hence, the putter is green in order to blend into the background of the putting green. Nike claims this will "eliminate visual noise and mutes the areas of the club that aren't critical."
- Optically Engineered Alignment Aid - By running tests on shapes and alignment aids, it was determined to utilize a white, triangular shape that is the hallmark of the IC putter. Nike claims the "optically engineered alighment aid helps square the face in relation to the hole and starts putts on the line."
The heads are all high MOI (moment of interia) for stability and are milled to enhance "accuracy, predictability and distance control across the putter face."
The entire club - with the exception of the milled face and the alignment aid - is green. Yep, completely green. Head, shaft, and even the Winn grip is green. I have to hand it to Nike Golf for utilizing some innovative technology and ideas behind the IC putters but have they looked at them? To be nice, they are… well… not pleasing on the eyes.
I realize that I am probably not in the targeted demographic group as I am guessing they are shooting for the younger golfer who might be more inclined to follow trends or someone mesmerized by Nike marketing and the use of "optical engineering" but in my opinion, putting more than any other part of the game is about feel and confidence and I'm not sure how confident one can feel over something that looks that bad. Green looks good on a John Deere tractor, not necessarily a putter.
The IC putters come in five flavors: two traditional blade styles (IC-20-10 and 20-10a) as well as three different mallet styles, the mid-mallet 20-15 and 20-15a and the large mallet 20-20. They have a suggested retail price of $159 with a street price of twenty bucks less and will be in golf retailers on December 1st.
Nike has gone out on a limb before with their ideas for golf equipment such as the Sumo² so perhaps the use of "optical engineering" is the next great idea in putter design. Seems to me to be a fad but who knows, geometric drivers looked to the same thing just a year ago too.