Reconnecting with the Past
Years ago, I was on vacation and stopped in Savannah, Georgia where I dropped in to see Chip Usher of Usher Golf. While there, I spoke with Chip about ordering a custom putter from his then-brand, C&L, talked design, and the wheels started turning. A few weeks later, a nice custom putter arrived on my doorstep and immediately went into my bag and actually had a decent run until the putter started missing more putts. It wasn’t my fault at all…
As PluggedInGolf.com has grown, I have had the privilege of working with a lot of cool putter makers, but my experience with Chip just kept popping into my head. Chip’s one of the nicest and most enthusiastic people you will ever come across, and he has the signature Georgian southern charm that leaves an impression on you. I finally reached out to Chip to see how things were going and if he’d be interested in having some of his work reviewed on the site. At that time, Chip informed me that he was in a bit of a transition from a putter-making standpoint (stay tuned for more details on that later), but he actually had something else I may be interested in. A direct quote from Chip:
I know you are a putter guy. I do have one classic putter model that might interest you. You might call this a large “Garage Find”.
Without hesitation, I said yes and was eager to hear more.
Tad Moore is up there on the list of important golf club designers, and one of his putters was even used to win the 1991 Masters tournament. I could write on about Tad Moore’s history, and perhaps one day I will, but for now there’s a story to be told about an interesting putter that is in the process of resurfacing more than a decade after it was made.
What Chip had told me was that Tad Moore was an old friend of his, and Tad had recently contacted him regarding some old putters he designed. A limited run of 350 heads were produced years ago between two companies that are no longer in business (one a milling company and one a golf distribution company). The owner of the company recently found a bunch of these old raw heads sitting in his garage, so he let Tad know in the event he may want them. Based on Tad’s current business endeavors, he didn’t have a use for the putter heads, but he knew someone that might – Chip. Chip ended up procuring these heads, plus a few other Tad models they ran, and found himself sitting on some pretty interesting putters to work with.
The most interesting part of this story is actually why these putters were made in the first place. Back around 2001/2002, Tad was hoping to get involved with Nike. As most will recall, Nike Golf was really starting to take off on the back of Tiger Woods, and getting Tiger into high-performance equipment was a major priority for Nike. Now we all know it took a long time for him to ditch his faithful Scotty Cameron, but Tad was hoping his interpretation of the Anser 2 shape would appeal to Nike and especially Tiger (note the sight dot on the topline). Nike spent significant time testing the performance of Tad’s Pro 1 TS putter and found that his signature “washboard” face milling actually improved the performance significantly. At the end of the day, Nike never ended up signing Tad, and this was the end of the road for the Tad Moore Pro 1 TS putters…up until a couple of months ago.
Tad Moore Pro 1 TS Putter
Since this is more of a story about the putter and the players involved, we won’t go down the road of a full review, but I do want to mention some highlights of this putter. First and foremost, I think there are a lot of aspects of the Pro 1 TS putter that are classic, and I’ve told Chip repeatedly that I feel like putting with one of these is like stepping into a time machine. It brings me back to all the classic gun blue and black oxide carbon putters from the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Those were some of the best putters ever made. The Pro 1 TS is a true one-piece putter milled from a block of carbon steel. The “washboard” face is subtle but has a nice feeling at impact and the ball rolls true.
The headweights will vary slightly on these putters as they get finished, but they are playing lighter than a lot of the modern putters. The Pro 1 TS is still very easy to control, has impeccable feel, and a classic soft click at impact. Honestly, this putter is at the top of my list of softest putters I’ve been able to roll.
Where Are They Now?
Chip’s still active in running his golf shop, Usher Golf, located in Savannah, Georgia where he sells some of the best equipment in the game. In addition to running his shop, Chip is working on getting his new custom putter brand, Black Lab Golf, off the ground. We’ll be looking forward to to seeing the progress of Black Lab and Chip’s continued success in producing great custom putters. Stay tuned for some reviews of Black Lab Golf putters.
Tad Moore…this guy is steeped in history and old stories. Getting some time to speak with him and hear a side of things that few will ever hear was an absolute privilege. Where’s Tad now? I feel like the simple answer is ‘Tad is just doing Tad.” He’s in the middle of cool projects, working on new ones, and being an advocate for the game of golf. True story – when Tad answered my phone call, he was in the middle of making two putters: one putter for George W. Bush and one putter for Barack Obama. The two Presidents were going to be stopping through town and Tad was asked to make them each a putter.
I could go on about the stories Tad was telling me, but I want to shed some light on his current project taking flight. Tad recently unveiled a new putter line at the 2015 PGA Merchandise show that he’s making in conjunction with apparel brand, Straight Down. The line is called “Tad Moore by Straight Down” and consists of six models now, with two more coming by the end of the year. There’s an interesting model coming that I won’t describe right now, but Tad told me a little bit about it, and it just sounds flat-out fun. Tad and Straight Down are looking to go the grass-roots route in getting their putters to market, and we’ll be featuring reviews at PluggedInGolf.com in the future.
Personally, the Tad Moore Pro 1 TS putter embodies exactly why I do what I do for this website. Sure it’s fun getting to see all the gear and talk golf, but to come across the interesting and unexpected stuff that I may have not encountered otherwise is something I always appreciate. It’s a further privilege to be able to share these things with other people and bring cool stories to light.
The Tad Moore Pro 1 TS putters, along with some other models Tad had milled, are available from Usher Golf. Just contact Chip to work out the logistics and he’ll get you set up with a great one-piece milled, classic carbon steel putter. In my humble opinion, these are the types of putters you shouldn’t pass up. Beyond being great putters, they aren’t going to be around forever and make for a great conversation piece from a great era in golf history.