When the Taylor Made Tour Preferred Putter arrived, we were very pleased with the way it looked and felt. Taylor Made was obviously attempting to move into the high-end luxury putter market. The Tour Preferred, though derivative of the Ping Zing, had an elegant, polished look. It said that TM just might be on the right track. Convinced that it would work well, we were anxious to putt with it.
A lovely putter to look at, the Tour Preferred TM 210 created very fine initial impressions – at least until the actual putting got under way. We had begun testing a number of good, distance balls from Nike, Slazenger, Titleist and others. When using them, we found that TM, with its new, Nubbins-style face insert, felt harsh. The balls felt like rocks. They jumped off of the face and were hard to control. We were not getting particularly good rolls and pinpoint accuracy was difficult to achieve. Even the sound was too hard and loud. The Alien Tutch Mallet had also just arrived, so we were putting that big, soft mallet, as well. In head to head putting, it blew the TM 210 away. Feel, distance control and accuracy were all in the Alien’s favor. That gave us for a few laughs.
Deciding that the Taylor Made had no future at all with hard, distance balls, we brought in the premium wound and balata balls. This time we compared the TM to the Wilson Fat Shaft CI 12. Again, it was no contest. The TM felt much better this time, but we still could not get the balls to nestle into the tiny 4 and 5-point circles. They were always a little bit left or right. The Wilson won easily. The newer “nubbins” insert used in the TM series has tighter, smaller ‘nubs’. We liked the older, softer nubs better – even though they were ping pong paddle orange.
One thing that was affecting the way that we rolled the TM 210 was its weighting pattern. The toe hangs straight down when balanced on a finger. Taylor Made bills this as a “heel-toe weighted” putter. If the toe points to the ground, we call it’s balance “toe-weighted”. If the balance is heel-toe weighted, putters point out in the general vicinity of 45 degrees, or face up, not down at 90 degrees. Most modern-style players, toe-weighted putters do not work particularly well. The putter head wants to close through impact due to the weight concentration in the toe. An in to out, arched stroke is needed, ala Crenshaw and Mickelson. After some modifications were made to our strokes, we started to see slightly better results, butt erratic putts continued.
The poor rolls that persisted in coming off of the TM 210 lead one tester to suspect that something else was amiss. He ran his fingers over the face and found the problem. The face insert had been improperly mounted. It was set in too deeply on the heel end and too far out on the toe end. When taken out into sunlight, the problem with the insert became readily visible. This uneven tilt may not seem to be too crucial, but rest assured that it is most definitely detrimental to good putting. A half of a degree of misalignment means an awful lot of missed putts from longer distances. At thirteen feet on our slippery target grid, this crookedness made precise putting with the TM very problematic. No one wanted to continue fooling with this putter.
Skiers use 5″ steel “true bars” to guarantee perfectly flat surfaces when they tune the bottoms of their skies. We use one of these bars to check putters by resting it on their faces. On a dead flat face, there is no visible line of light shining between the bar and the putter face. When the bar was rested on the face of the TM 210, so much sunlight shined through that we had to apply sunscreen.
The fact that a company with a reputation as strong as Taylor Made’s allowed this shoddiness to transpire on a premium product is very discouraging. An expensive putter that was allowed to be this poorly made is really tough to swallow. No possible excuse can exist for permitting any product with defects such as these to get through a quality control department. K-Mart flatsticks come through cleaner than this one. They come through flatter, as well.
While these putters are assembled in America, the heads are made in China at very low cost. Such is generally the case with manufacturers these days. The only way that a company can justify charging an extra money for a standard-metal, standard-production putter is to lead the public to believe that knowledgeable, well-trained craftsmen were assembling it with great care, checking the specs and then conscientiously inspecting the workmanship on every single piece before it was released to the public. If not, where in the world does the justification come for charging such prices? If TM didn’t bother checking for the glaring problems we’ve seen, it is reasonable to assume that they most certainly did not check loft, lie and weight specs either.
“Precision milled for superior quality”… that’s what Taylor Made says about their “Tour Preferred” series putters. Well, touring pros, we’d recommend that you try K-Mart first. Taylor Made needs to resolutely kick some Taylor butts in their “Tour Preferred” putter department.