I first heard of the PING Nome putter on TV, and for a while I thought
the name was spelled “Gnome” instead of “Nome.” Silly me – I thought it
was just another one of those offbeat names PING’s come up with lately.
After all, this is the company that’s given us names like the PING
Craze-E® putter, the Wack-E® putter, the ½ Wack-E® (is it only half as
crazy as the “full” Wack-E®?), the Hohum®, the Pickmeup® and the Y
Worry®. “Gnome” would fit right in with that lot, so I think my little
misunderstanding about the spelling of the name of the PING Nome putter
isn’t really surprising.
But what’s in a name? “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” Or so Juliet said about Romeo. So with that bit of philosophy aside, let’s get on with this review of the PING Nome putter.
First, instead of the 17-4 stainless steel or forged 303 stainless steel used for other PING putters, the large, precision-milled head is made of a lightweight C805 aluminum. Two heavy tungsten sole weights at the rear optimize this mallet putter’s center of gravity and create a high Moment of Inertia (MOI) for forgiveness, stability and resistance to twisting. A black alignment arch and contrasting white sightline extending from the center of the face all the way to the rear of the head are intended to promote accuracy by making it much easier to aim the club properly.
Apparently, the Nome’s design is a great success. The first time Hunter Mahan used a PING Nome putter, he won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. He gave the Nome credit for his exceptional putting during the tournament: “Long putts, big-breaking putts. I felt like I could make just about any putt I looked at. It felt great immediately and it gave me a lot of confidence so I could just trust my aim and stroke the ball freely.” And, he followed up on this performance with a 16-under at the Shell Houston Open.
After reading that interview I decided I had to try one myself. It’s available in the standard lengths, but as it turns out it’s also available as a belly putter. And that’s actually one of the most innovative things about this putter. Well, the innovation isn’t that you can buy it as a belly putter – plenty of putters give you that option. Nope, it’s that the Nome belly shaft is adjustable. In fact, the Nome uses the first adjustable-length belly putter shaft that’s been approved by the USGA.
The PING Nome putter I tested was a standard-length, 35-inch version, so I can’t really go into any detail on how the adjustable belly shaft works, but knowing PING it’s probably pretty easy. Just remember if you buy the belly version of the PING Nome putter, no adjustments are allowed during a round.
The Nome is also offered in three different shaft bends, each designed to give the putter a different balance (from face-balanced to toe-down). According to PING, choosing the shaft bend (and balance) that suits your putting style (straight-back-and-through, a slight arc or a strong arc) enhances accuracy and consistency. Makes sense to me.
Matching your putter to your stroke type is a form of putter fitting PING calls Fit for Stroke™, and it’s pretty exciting. For example, I’m a straight-back-and-through putter, so a face-balanced club works best with my stroke. Being able to choose the balance of your club isn’t just a nice option – matching the balance to your stroke can actually make you a better putter. Naturally, I tested the face-balanced version of the PING Nome putter.
As I mentioned earlier, the PING Nome putter is a fairly large mallet-style putter. Some big mallets look like UFOs or a species of bug, but not the Nome. The silver, black and white color scheme combined with the putter’s rounded contours produce a calming, confident, and not at all distracting effect despite the size. Everything looks well-made. The lines are elegant, and the milling is clean and precise, but then that’s what I expect from a top-quality club maker like PING.
The club was superbly balanced – at times I almost felt like it was swinging itself. Impact felt firm and crisp, and the ball came off the milled face (no insert) fairly hot with a pleasing little “ping.” I can’t complain about the accuracy, either. And after some experimentation, I figured out that I putted even better when my strokes were slow, smooth and rhythmic.
The Bottom Line: Do you like the sound of the ball falling into the bottom of the cup? If so, you might want to consider a PING Nome putter. Even if you’re a blade player, you might become a mallet convert like Hunter Mahan.