The Oz is one of Nike’s Blue Chip Series of putters. The blue chip referred to alludes to the milled, blue insert in the face. The Oz is a beautifully crafted product. Tom Stites, Nike’s Director of Product Creation, and his crew went well out of their way to make this flatstick an object of beauty. The gracefully sculpted shapes and elegantly subtle hues combine to produce a very highly pleasing appearance. This modernistic piece of putter art is just plain cool to look at. It is, as one of our testers said, “very Jetson-esque.” This attention to design quality carries over to the headcover, as well. It is very attractive and easy to use.
Aside from being visually appealing, the shapes used in the Oz head also serve functional needs. The graceful, rear arch places weight aft of center for a deeper center of gravity. It also adds structural stability and forgiveness. In addition to the posterior arch, Nike also uses what they call “dual density weighting”. The rear arch segment is comprised of stainless steel which is heavier than the metals used for the face section. This adds more weight back away from the impact position thus creating a deeper Center of Gravity (COG).
Putter designers have been fiddling with large putter heads that create a deep COG for many years. However, the sales success of the Odyssey Two-Ball putter has inspired a number of major manufacturers to further experiment on the theme. Aside from Odyssey and Nike, companies such as Hogan/Bettinardi, Snake Eyes, Tour Edge and Titleist all have deep COG putters on the market now. All of these large, forgiving putters are finding their share of admirers.
When being putted, the first that strikes the user about the Nike Oz is that it tends to flop open about five degrees when gripped very lightly. This can be distracting to some, and one of our testers was reluctant to putt the Oz at all due to this tendency. In actual use, however, most of our crew has found that when held with a relatively firm grip, this face-balanced putter strokes square and true with no inclination to open up. The double bend shaft creates some offset to the face. This, along with the tendency to open, forces the user to take a very positive, assertive grip that encourages stroking down the line, as opposed to flipping through impact.
The feel of the Nike Oz at impact is quite pleasant in a solid and understated way. The Blue Chip aluminum insert mutes the impact sensation allowing even the hardest, two-piece balls to feel unobjectionable. The soft insert also keeps this putter from being overly sensitive. As a result, a player does not have to be too gentle with short putts. He can take a real stroke without much fear of over-running the hole. On long putts, he can swing away and maintain good pace. In fact, very long putts are a strong suit of the Oz. It is a stable, forgiving putter that allows its user to drive the ball hard on very lengthy and uphill putts.
The alignment qualities of the OZ may seem to some a bit peculiar at first, but they have turned out to be effective. The half-ball shape that wedges against the back of the face has an alignment line on it. The real ball sits in front of the steel half-ball in a natural, easy manner. This putter sets up well. A sense of precise aiming ability may not be derived from this unusually shaped head, but most players should find that they relate to its alignment properties with little or no misgiving.
During playing rounds, and on our target grid, the Nike Oz has demonstrated good consistency in terms of both pace and accuracy for almost all testers. We have played this putter on numerous playing surfaces, from slow and rough to smooth and slick. It handled all well. Adjusting to changes in pace was not difficult. Even on the oversized, roller coaster greens of a nearby tournament course, the Oz came through quite nicely for our testers.
The crewmember who was most distracted by the tendency for the face to open at address was a bit erratic in left-right dispersion patterns, but all else saw patterns that were reasonably tight. The two testers who most liked the putter, saw very tight patterns. After minimal amounts of adjustment time, they learned to putt the Oz quite accurately. They also produced fine rolls that tracked very cleanly. The Oz drives the ball smoothly forward with little or no skipping or skidding.
The Nike Oz is a beautifully designed and very well crafted piece of work. Not everyone will appreciate the distinctive good looks, but most should find them quite compelling. The soft aluminum, face insert and stable head design combine to make an easy, forgiving putter that adjusts to varying green speeds well. Long, long putts are a strong suit for this putter. Not all players will like the way the Oz sets up at address, but it should please most mallet users. One of our testers has added the Oz to his bag. He likes the Oz a great deal, but it must be added the he is a sucker for anything with a swoosh on it. Nike is known for style, and this putter has it.