The story of Dustin Johnson putting his Tour only black TaylorMade Itsy Bitsy Spider in the bag has to be one of the most Dustin Johnson stories you could imagine. It all started with Jason Day having TaylorMade make him an all red version of the Itsy Bitsy with no sight line on it and a different slant neck to give a little toe hang. Dustin, known for consistent putting woes and everlasting searches for the magic putter, decided he wanted to put one in the bag. Not wanting to copy Day's style, DJ knew his brother/caddy Austin had a black one like Day's in his bag. The story goes that Dustin sent him to get it and immediately put it in the bag. The rest is history.
This retail version of the Spider isn't exactly the same but a pretty close copy for those looking for some of that DJ magic.
Based on Dustin Johnson's Tour only black Itsy Bitsy Spider putter
Pure Roll insert designed to increase topspin and improve forward roll across varying surfaces
Removed sightline for clean alignment
Previously "Tour Only" slant neck - has toe hang
Firm feel for an insert
Black shaft, grip, and head for sick murdered out look
Find the TaylorMade Spider Tour Black putter HERE.
If you're able to get over the spaceship look of the Spider it's a very interesting and unique look. That's hardly saying anything negative, but it is a futuristic mechanical look that is a far cry from what hardcore old school types like to see. Some will be fans of the lack of sight line, others will find it difficult to line up the sweet spot without it. My point is it's very important to make sure you can work with this putter - it's somewhat polarizing. I think some are going to find it fits their eye really well and works great while others will find they just can't get comfortable looking at it. I personally find the Spider to setup nicely and invokes confidence. But most importantly - the murdered out black is cool as hell and a look I'm always a fan of.
Yes, the Spider Tour is an insert putter, but this insert is pretty solid and doesn't feel all that dampened. You do have to hit the putt fairly pure or else the face can feel, and even sound, a little hollow. The good news is it's not too punishing. You will definitely know you missed the sweet spot but the outcome of your putt doesn't suffer that bad unless you grossly mishit it.
I mentioned above that a mishit shot can feel and sound a little bit hollow. In a lot of cases that's perfectly fine as long as the ball still rolls pretty true. Fortunately TaylorMade put a lot of focus into how well the ball rolls off of the Pure Roll insert. They used 45 ¼ grooves in the polymer insert which are designed to create topspin to get the ball rolling faster on its intended line. The ball rolls great off the sweet spot, but the hollow feeling mishits are rescued by these grooves to still give you a good roll of the ball. The biggest challenge of the mishit will be controlling your ball speed, which means more difficulty controlling your distance. So even though the putter is forgiving in its roll, you're still going to want to do your best to dial in your stroke to hit the center as much as possible.
I suppose I should also comment on the balance of the Spider Tour Black putter. Typically a mallet like this will be face balanced promoting more of a straight back, straight through stroke (note: I said typically, not always). This putter with its slant neck gives you toe hang so the stroke has more of an arc to it. Yes, the larger head with the way TaylorMade weighted it will help you keep the putter under control through the stroke, the balance is going to be different than if it were face balanced. Just keep in mind that the Spider Tour is going to promote and open to close stroke path.
The TaylorMade Spider Tour Black is definitely not a one-size-fits-all putter, but in the right hands it's great. I won't pretend it didn't take me some time to adjust to the Spider, but once I did I felt like I was almost automatic with it and it was easy to understand why so many players are starting to gravitate to this model.
The Verdict: This is a cool putter that performs well, looks cool, and as ridiculous as it sounds, has a bit of extra "IT factor" from DJ putting it on the map.
The Aftershow is where we talk about aspects of the equipment that's of interest but didn't necessarily make the review.
One major thing not covered in the review are the differences between all of the Spider putters, specifically the "Tour" putters. Obviously the Jason Day version is red and the Dustin version is black. Both have no sightline and the Tour slant neck but have different inserts. The Jason Day version is supposed to be softer and have more of that "polymer" feel and the Dustin Johnson black version has a more metallic and firm feel. The only other comparison I have to the Spider Tour Black is the limited edition red retail version that has the sightline, double bend shaft, and is face balanced. That version's insert feels much softer and muted than the black DJ model.
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