Over the last decade many equipment companies have been coming out with putters that look more like spaceships than they do a piece of golf equipment all to pack technology into the latest flatsticks. Few designs hold up to the test of time to be called legendary or iconic, but when they do, they truly can be something special. One design that has held its place in fame and can absolutely be called an icon is the Wilson 8802. Made famous by the likes of Arnold Palmer and Ben Crenshaw, the style continues to be redone and is used by such greats as Phil Mickelson. The 8802 is an extremely simple design that is absolutely elegant with its clean lines and distinguished look. There is no heel-toe weighting to speak of, and you will not hear companies speak of buzz words like MOI when describing this piece of equipment.
From the Company
Inspired by timeless Wilson putters and updated with precision milling, the all-new Wilson Staff 88 putter series delivers several upgrades in a pure blend of classic design sure to appeal to every generation of golfer.
The first pass milling operation ensures a flat face for consistency. Secondary master grooves are then added to promote forward spin and reduce skid after impact. The arched shape of these secondary grooves imparts a slight side spin on heel and toe impacts, helping to bring the ball back on line.
VDP Alignment Technology
Visual Plane Differential- or VDP Technology- uses multi-surface markings to help players consistently get their eyes into the correct position directly above the putting target line.
A low durometer, soft polymer VRAD grip by Golf Pride wraps a stepless barrel shaft for improved feel and feedback
Five unique shapes milled from soft stainless steel offer options to satisfy the eye of the most demanding golfer
8881 – Traditional heel/toe weighted, plumber hosel (also available in LH)
8882 – Timeless 8802 shape, heel shaft, offset gooseneck hose
8883 – Toe weighted semi-mallet, heel shaft, offset gooseneck hosel
8884 – Heel/toe weighted, semi-mallet hybrid, heel shaft, plumber hosel
8885 – Heel/toe weighted, mallet, heel shaft, plumber hosel
Looks & First Impressions
After seeing this first at the PGA Merchandise Show in January, THP was eager to get its hands on it. The putter has a dark gunmetal type of finish that screams “classy”. Whether or not the dual milled face works as intended will be better left for testing, but based on looks alone, it is awe inspiring. The simple single thin white line for alignment was a nice touch and adds to the classic appeal. The grip was also extremely nice looking while at the same time being soft and tacky. When picking the putter up for the first time, we could not help but notice what felt like a counter weighting located in the grip section of the club. We contacted Wilson Staff customer service, but they were not able to give any info on the weighting of this putter, including headweight, rather saying it was proprietary information which is more common these days with club companies. One complaint we had about this putter is that the headcover, while looks great, is just not good at staying on the equipment. Time after time during our rounds, just riding in the cart was making the cover fall off. Despite any small drawbacks, THP was excited about this review based on the looks and first impressions. The quality that went into this design and the overall aesthetics are just that good.
A new section to our reviews on equipment, apparel, and accessories is that of customer service. In today’s modern shopping experience, it is easy to press “buy” and have something arrive a week later. But what happens if you have issues with your purchase? What happens if you need help? For that, we have added this section to our reviews when looking at new lines from companies. When researching for information on this putter, the Wilson Staff website is well designed, easy to navigate, and very helpful. It was missing some technical specs on this putter, so we contacted customer service just as any other customer would do. While they were not able to get us the information we were looking for, as mentioned above, what we did find is someone that was extremely friendly, courteous, and willing to help in as many ways as they could. There is something to be said in today’s age of online transactions and quick sales for good customer support and the Wilson Staff company earned major bonus points to this reviewer with their way of going about things despite not having the information. This could have very easily been a quick “we cannot give that out, thanks for contacting” and instead we got a string of emails after our initial contact with follow up information and offering to help in any way possible.
As eager as I was to get my hands on this putter since the PGA Show, when it showed up at our offices for testing, I was still just as eager. The look alone just makes you pray for good weather and in all honesty, most on the THP site, know that this is my favorite shape of all putters.
First thing we tested for was glare at setup, because in the summer sun, especially in FL, it can make or break a putter pretty quickly. We were thrilled to see that there were no glare issues at all, something we were a little nervous about going in.
During testing, the weighting was throwing each of the 9 golfers off when they were first picking it up. Most expected it to be incredibly light weight and each one that picked it up, took a few minutes to figure out the weighting with each stroke. But by the end of day 1, each player had it figured out pretty well. One thing that each person was enjoying was the dual milled face. Did it add more forward roll and in turn have players make more putts? No, not really, but it did minimize the trouble that mis-hits had on the ball. Most of the golfers believed that it was due to the arch shaped milling on the face, and since that is what the company says as well, who are we to argue it. This was especially noticeable on longer putts outside of the 20 foot mark.
After 3 full days of putter testing with some other golfers, I was eager to put this one in the bag and take it out for a few rounds and the Wilson Staff 8882 delivered! What I found on the course mirrored the thoughts of the testers throughout my trials. Longer putts were missed with more accuracy with this putter than many we have tested. Now that sounds kind of funny when you think about it, but in reality most amateurs are looking for 2 putts and this putter delivered. Is it because of the grooves? I have no reason to doubt it at this point. In my putting when I miss, it is usually a little off the heel and my miss on 18-25 foot putts ends up offline by a decent margin. Did I notice side spin? No, but the ball was not showing the same inaccuracies that I am used to seeing throughout my game. After many rounds putting the Wilson Staff 8882 in play, it is safe to say that in the opinion of this reviewer, they have a winner on their hands.
During testing a younger golfer came over and said “That is a very cool Napa Style putter”. That is the ultimate definition of comic relief if you ask me since the Napa is just another in the line of “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” when it comes to the 8802.
When a company is resurrecting an icon, you never really know what to expect, similar to the sequel of a really good movie, but I believe Wilson Staff has something outstanding on their hands. One other thing that stuck out to us about this great reinvention is that of the price. The Wilson Staff 8882 is selling right now for around $100 and for that kind of money, fits right into our “best buy” category for putters that for so long has been dominated by a few other lines. For more information on the new Wilson Staff series of putters or to check out anything else in their line, go to their website at www.wilsonstaff.com.
Till Next Time