Justin Rose may have surprised a lot of people in golf when he signed a long-term deal with Japanese clubmaker Honma Golf to play their equipment through the remainder of his years as a viable major contender.
However, one of the biggest reasons Rose signed with Honma, and teamed up again with former TaylorMade Golf head man Mark King, was the freedom to choose his own putter. No longer under a 14-club deal, Rose was able to go with a new putter, and the one he's using with so much success at the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open is made by Axis1 Golf.
Axis1 putters are designed with the idea that aligning the putter head's center of gravity and its sweet spot in the same location make a golfer much more likely to strike the ball with a square face. The Axis1 putters accomplish this with a heel-based counterweight that sits out in front of the blade as part of the putter's offset. That weight brings the center of gravity forward, making it less likely to twist through the stroke.
"A face-balanced putter doesn't always mean that it wants to stay square, right?" Rose said at the Desert Classic. "When you hold it, the face points to the sky. We don't putt to the sky; we putt with the shaft in a different plane to that. So it's got some great technology and that piqued my interest quite awhile back."
Rose has been working with Axis1 for more than 18 months to develop a putter that is a bit more conventional in its look -- "confidence-inspiring," in Rose's words -- but still has the same fundamental design component. Even after Axis1 came to Rose with a prototype that checked the boxes, the on-and-off world No. 1 couldn't use it. When the Homna deal worked out, he had flexibility to potentially put it in play.
"Obviously being 14 clubs previously I couldn't use it, but that was one of the big reasons why I was looking for a bit more flexibility going forward, so I can move with the times a little bit," Rose said. "If there's areas of my bag that I want to experiment with I now have that little bit of flexibility in there to do that. And the putter was one part of it."
Rose wasn't sure Wednesday afternoon in Palm Springs if he would game the Axis1, but he did at the Desert Classic. The putter is the a take on the Axis1 Tour, which is a 350-gram head that's a shorter blade with a smaller footprint for the stainless steel counterweight on the heel. The 304 stainless steel head is CNC milled, with a counterbalancing sole screw.
Rose ranked 16th for the week in strokes gained putting. (ShotLink is only available on the host course, PGA West's Stadium Course, so that's over two rounds.) This week at Torrey Pines, where ShotLink only covers the South Course, Rose is ranked 22nd in strokes gained putting.
The 2013 US Open champion has historically been a poor putter, but after ending the 2017-18 season at 21st in SGP, he's 16th early on this season.