If you look back over time you would have to say that TaylorMade has not exactly lit up the putter sector in the way that it has the driver and fairway market.
The one exception would be the Spider design that uses an ultra-high MOI shape to enable even the nerviest of players to get it in the hole from close range.
In 2012 TaylorMade created what I feel was their best putter to date with the Ghost Spider S, which was a more mid-sized version that struck the right balance between forgiveness and being more manageable from longer range.
Jason Day thought so too, but he wanted something smaller and took the compact Itsy Bitsy Spider to the TaylorMade tour van and requested some modifications and a paint job.
This led to the TaylorMade Spider Limited putter which is now released to the public as the Spider Tour Red. After Dustin Johnson saw one, he went to the Tour van with his request and that became the Tour Black version, plus there is a Tour Platinum head for everyone who didn't manage to get to a Tour van.
All three models feature the new Pure Roll face insert that has 45° angled grooves that flex at impact to create 20rpm of top spin to get the ball rolling quicker and staying online.
The insert on the Tour Red is made from a soft surlyn, which compromises the feel a little, but the firmer Pure Roll 80/20 insert on the Tour Black model is better than previous TaylorMade inserts and just passes muster.
The sound is a little better too as a result and you start to get some feedback, but from a premium company like TaylorMade I expect something like soft steel, aluminium or anything that will elevate the most important part of the putter up to the quality of the rest of it.
However the fact that each face insert is a contrasting colour to the head is a good thing as it should offer help with alignment and address position.
The face is obviously a little narrower than the usual Spider putter, but with a MOI of 4900g/cm², this is still a pretty stable putter and even slight off centre hits did not seem to lose too much speed, which gives you more chance of getting it to the hole.
In addition to the insert firmness, there are a few more differences between the models beyond just the colours.
Firstly, the Red and Black versions for the Tour boys feature a short slant neck offset hosel on a 355g head that gives what you think should be a face balanced head a 38° toe hang.
The loft on the face is 3.5° compared to 2.5° on the Tour Platinum model and there is also no alignment line on the crown as the darlings don't want any distractions at address. Both models sit very nicely with the hosel blended in and tucked out of the way so you can see the leading edge clearly.
On the mere mortal Spider Tour Platinum you get a clear black sight line on a silver crown that is excellent for lining up the face.
The hosel is a double bend that creates a more face balanced 360g head for a straighter stroke, but visually it gets in the way of the leading edge a little at address and I am not mad about the contrasting colour of the red weight pods at the back either.
However it does do the job equally as well thanks to the firmer Pure Roll 80/20 insert, so really it all comes down to personal preference and style between this and the Tour Black.
It would have been nice to see the Spider Tour Red and Black versions with a face balanced hosel and an alignment line as an option too, as some golfers may be caught between models.
However if the current offerings align with your putting stars, then the Spider Tour is an excellent design of putter that combines a compact head with the forgiving MOI benefits of the renowned Spider design.