Win A Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 Putter
Details on how you can win one of these putters at the end of the article.
More Majors Won Than Any Other Brand
By Dave Wolfe
It's interesting how changes over time can be subtle with golf companies. We all expect golf equipment to change frequently, and we all notice when it does. At the company level though, it seems like it takes golfers a couple of years, or longer, to notice the change, and then that change usually comes as a surprise.
Image is a big deal for golf companies, and it is one that must be carefully cultured. Take Callaway's #fiveyearwar plan of attack. The marketing people and club makers at Callaway are putting a ton of effort into letting people know all about the new Callaway. They are driving the brand away from the "for-old-golfers" perception that had settled in on the Callaway brand toward a new perception more characterized by words like innovative and exciting. Callaway is actively fighting to change golfers' perceptions of Callaway Golf, and it seems to be working.
There are other companies working to change golfers' perceptions as well. If the question "What golf company has won More Majors Won Than Any Other Brand?" came up during a local pub trivia night I am not sure that I would answer with Wilson Staff.
I started playing golf after the real heyday of Wilson Staff. If you did too, then you may not realize how they were the company in golf for a long time. A seriously long time.
If you are unfamiliar with the history of Wilson Staff, they have a great history page on their site HERE. As you skim though the timeline, you'll see that it starts with big names in golf like Sneed and Sarazen, powers on through most of the 20th century. Toward the end of the 20th century though, the Wilson Staff brand seems to drop off the golf pinnacle. Maybe it was the selling of the company a couple of times. Maybe it was the fact that other competing companies like Ping and Callaway came into the market. Regardless, something happened where the Wilson Staff name did not mean what it once did. If you look at that history page, you can see that Padraig Harrington was almost solely responsible for keeping the Wilson Staff name relevant in tournament golf from 2000-2010.
Let's bring it closer to home. Did you buy any Wilson Staff clubs in the first decade of this century?
But in the second decade of the twenty-first century, things are changing at Wilson Staff. Their clubs are improving, and people are starting to notice. Tour guys are playing them. Kevin Streelman just earned almost $400,000 with Wilson Staff clubs by finishing T3 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. In 2012, the FG Tour V2 irons were labeled as Must Demo by this very site, and during last year's Most Wanted Driver Test, Tony called the Wilson Staff D100 driver "the perfect driver for guys who just love to hit golf balls." I played the D100 driver a bunch last season, and I'll attest that it's fun (and long). Things are changing at Wilson Staff. Again, the gear is getting better.
Vizor Level 2
In every role-playing game I've ever played, being first level sucks. I don't know that Wilson Staff even though of role-playing games when they named this incarnation of the Vizor "Level 2", but that's what it made me think of. Usually, if you survive to level two, then you get a little bit stronger, and a little bit more skilled at whatever your character is trying to do. At Level 2, you are simply better than you were at Level 1.
With the Vizor Level 2 line, Wilson has taken what was present in the original Vizor line, and refined it. The original Vizor mallet was a solid performer in our 2013 Most Wanted Mallet test, finishing in the top half of the pack with an accuracy score of 83. What did our testers like about that Vizor? The soft insert, and the I-Lock alignment system. So what has been improved in Level 2? Well the urethane insert is now softer, the color and designs have been changed to promote a "more modern" look, and the I-Lock technology has been improved. Taking the strong points, and making them stronger seems like a solid plan.
Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 Specifications
Materials: Steel construction with urethane insert.
Shaft: True Temper Steel
RH Models Available: 4
LH Models Available: Model 2
Grip: Made from a proprietary X-Tack , synthetic material
Grip Size: Midsized is standard; oversized and undersized also available
Insert: Urethane (10-15 durometer points softer than previous Vizor model)
US Release Date: January 17, 2014
The Big Deal: I-Lock Technology
I am fairly certain that anyone looking at the Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 putters will immediately notice the I-Lock alignment system. The concept behind the I-Lock system is that it helps the golfer to make sure that his or her eyes are in a position directly over the putter and the target line at address. According to Wilson Staff, there are three main advantages to the I-Lock system:
- Improves putting alignment by aiding the golfer in positioning the eyes directly over the ball and line of putt.
- Visual reminder when eyes are over the target line for more consistent set-up, alignment and stroke.
- Easy to understand and take from the practice green to the course.
So what makes this new I-Lock a Level 2 upgrade? Well, the original I-Lock system has been altered/improved in a couple of places. Again, according to Wilson Staff:
- More open alignment “bridge” to allow additional light in for quicker and easier confirmation of being over the target line.
- “Bridge” is now parallel (level) with the ground for a more consistent eye and address position.
- Single color, high contrast black/white alignment system for perfect set-up.
It looks to me like the original I-Lock technology has indeed Leveled Up. They have taken what they had in the original Vizor, and improved it. But we just have their word for it, right? It's not like they have supported the claims of the I-Lock system with data.
Supported By Data
The Wilson Staff I-Lock test shows us that eye position relative to the putter and line matters, and it also serves as a diagnostic for anyone that is missing. If you are pushing your putts, maybe your eyes are too inside; pulling, too outside. What the Vizor I-Lock does is give you a simple system to know if you are inside or outside, or locked.
No, I don't find the I-Lock to be the most attractive feature ever added to a putter. However, I find making more putts to be very attractive. I bet you do too. Dismissing functional technology based upon looks is not a solid plan. Would you, could you, with a fish
Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 - Model 1
The Model 1 is the only blade in the Vizor Level 2 line-up, although some will argue that the addition of the I-Lock alignment system makes it more of a mallet than a traditional blade. I agree, it looks more mallet-like, than blade-like at address, but it really does play more like a blade while putting. It does have the design elements of the typical blade: plumbers neck, heel-toe-weighting, and a toe-hang around 3:45-4:00.
Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 - Model 2
The Model 2, and the Model 3, are definitely mallets. With the Model 2, we get a rounded visual that reminds me a bit of the bottom of a 2-Ball. Obviously, the I-Lock again is the dominant visual feature, but the other design elements, like being face-balanced as a result of the double bend shaft, will make the Model 2 very comfortable for the straight stroking putter.
Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 - Model 3
The Model 3 is another face-balanced mallet, but this one is a bit more angular than the Model 2 and because of that, it may fit the eye of some golfers better than that more rounded Model 2 head. Play-wise, I personally found the Model 2 more to my liking, but I'm hard pressed to explain why. Both set up to the ball the same with the I-Lock, and both have identical urethane inserts. Maybe it's a little weight distribution difference, maybe it's geometry. I guess what I'm telling you is to roll both and make your own decision. They are different...
Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 - Model 4
I love putters that are easily weaponizable. Hone the edges of those wings and you have a tool to make putts with and then defend yourself with when the zombies storm your course. Wilson Staff describes the Model 4 as Aggressive Mallet with Center Shaft Design. I like the word aggressive for the Model 4. I may have mentioned before that the Odyssey Sabertooth is one of my all-time favorite putters. It still gets game time when the putter review queue is light. This Model 4 reminds me of the Sabertooth, but the center-shaft, and the I-Lock technology make the Model 4 its own entity as well. This one is definitely my favorite one in the line.
Moving in the Right Direction
So is the Wilson Staff brand moving in the right direction? I think that they are. I can say that these putters are better than the previous Vizors. The aesthetics on these Vizor Level 2 putters still may not be to your liking, but they do find the hole. The Model 3 and Model 4 are taking part in the 2014 Most Wanted Mallet test, and I have already had one tester email me about where he could buy one. Read into that what you will...
When thinking about the status of Wilson Staff in 2014, ask yourself the following question: Are there any Wilson Staff clubs that I would like to demo and maybe game from the current line-up?
Here's my answer:
- FG Tour M3 Driver
- FG Tour M3 Fairways & Hybrid
- FG Tour M3 Irons or new C100 irons
- FG Tour TC Wedges
- Nexus Stand Bag (2014's MGS Most Wanted Carry Bag)
- 2014 Wilson Staff FG Tour Ball
That looks a lot like a whole bag of Wilson Staff clubs. The only reason I didn't list a putter is that I don't actually get to play one putter for a season, or even many back to back rounds. Regardless, I don't think that there is a year in recent history when I would have been able to put together such an expansive list of Wilson Staff gear. I think that means something. Granted, I'm just one guy, but if I'm noticing what is going on with Wilson Staff equipment, then I bet others are noticing as well. Will Wilson Staff ever return to its previous spot at the top of golf market, who knows? However, it seems like they are moving in the right direction.
Win A Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 Putter
Leave a comment below letting us know what you think of the I-Lock alignment system and which Vizor Level 2 model catches your eye. In a week or so, we will choose one commenter at random to win his or her choice of Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 Putter!