Stage Two – Tommy Armour Tour Impact #3 – Official MGS Forum Review by Sean Krupa
On my quest to determine if the TA3 could supplant my current gamer and satisfy my obsession with mallet putters I constructed the following test plan:
A casual introduction to the TA3 with 18 holes of no pressure, no consequences golf with some buddies
A more informal introduction at the practice green alongside my current game for the beginnings of side-by-side comparison
One hour of formal side-by-side comparison on a SAM putt lab
More on course testing including two rounds of league play where everything is holed out and money (albeit modest amounts) is on the line
I wanted to do my best put the TA3 in every possible scenario I could think of with as much “hard” data to back up my conclusions as possible. After just under two months with the TA3 I feel like I know this putter very well and can’t wait to share my findings with you.
Looks (8 out of 10 points)
The TA3 has a very pleasing shape that checks many of the boxes I was looking for in a mallet putter. It is not overly gaudy in its footprint, with graphics that I think are tastefully subdued.
The black on black just resonates well with me and inspired confidence down by the ball – no distractions, all business. Compared to others in the category, I still maintain that it might not look “as premium” as the big dogs, however it doesn’t stick out like a cheap, sore thumb either. In summary, Tommy Armour has put together a winning combination with the look of TA3 that definitely got the attention of my playing companions when it was out on the course.
Sound & Feel (10 out of 10 points)
The TA3 produced a muted, soft “knock” sound which was a pleasure to hear when striking the ball. Here’s a video I took on the practice green so you can hear for yourself. I think TA deserves some credit for achieving this without the use of an overly soft insert which breaks up the looks or feels artificially soft. Coming from gaming a blade style putter I thought I had a keen awareness of where my misfits were on the face when I hit them. Perhaps it’s the extra mass behind the ball, but when putting with the TA3 I did not seem to have the ability to identify mishits as well. This consistent feel across the face is another strength of the TA3 that I could not ignore. When I had my dad take a few strokes with the TA3 he kept using the words “light” and “smooth” which I tend to agree with. Add it all up and you have a putter which builds on its confidence inspiring looks, with sound and feel that achieve similar results.
Basic Characteristics (18 out of 20 points)
After spending an evening at the practice green with the TA3 and my gamer doing an informal side-by-side comparison, I found both alignment and speed control came very natural with TA3. Despite have a drastically different look, the transition was seamless. There were some encouraging moments but I knew nothing definitive would come from the practice green even if I had stayed for hours on end.
What I wanted was definitive, objective, science-based information about these two putters and how my putting game was affected by each. Can I just say, that I love living in an era where technology like launch monitors and putting labs exist, but are available to the average golfer as well? A simple search on the internet informed me that there was SAM putt lab less than 10 miles from my house which I could book practice time on. Before I go any further, let me give a big shout out to Steve at the SW Golf Academy in Chantilly, VA. Not only did he take extra time to show me the ropes of the system, he genuinely took an interest in the testing I was doing for this review.
We first set the system to do a “blind” putter comparison between the TA3 and my Ping gamer. I call it “blind” because I wouldn’t see the results until after the test was over. The criteria of the head-to-head comparison were simple: 10 putts with each measuring technical proficiency (SAM calls this tendency, and is a measure of the technical quality of the putting stroke) and consistency. After doing the comparison, SAM putt lab recommended I stay with the Ping but a very narrow margin. However, because the system weights consistency more strongly than tendency the Ping “won” based on me being a more consistent putter (not at all surprising when it’s been in my bag for 3 seasons now). My tendency was actually better with the TA3 suggesting I could be a better putter overall if my consistency improved.
Next, we set up ~30 ball extended practice sessions with each putter and the results were similar. The Ping narrowly edged out the TA3 but this time in both tendency and consistency. I can’t say that I’m entirely surprised by this as my Ping has been a very strong club for me for quite a while.
My takeaway from the SAM putt lab experience (and primary component to the score I awarded for this section) was this: the TA3 putts nearly as well as my Ping which has multiple seasons of familiarity working for it. I was confident that putting it in the bag would not set my game back significantly and in fact I took this a challenge to improve my putting with the TA3.
I’ve made all my SAM putt lab data available in case anyone wants to take a closer look.
On-Course Performance (29 out of 30 points)
All told, I took the TA3 on the course a total of 4 separate times for the purposes of this forum review testing. I don’t have data from the first round; I was playing with a group of friends before a wedding and we scrambled the back nine to get the groom back to the resort for the rehearsal. It was a first introduction to the TA3 and I did make a very nice birdie putt on the 9th hole (~20 ft.).
The results speak for themselves. This was the best putting round I can ever remember having. Nine one-putts is just silly, although a big assist goes to my wedges that put a couple chips close to tap in distance. Why can’t every round be like this one?
Much more like what a typical round (33.2 putts) is for me.
A bad score despite having my best GIR? That's a bad day at the office for the TA3; there's no hiding it.
Every round had at least one three-putt and in another round played after this testing I managed to four-putt a hole with the TA3. A magic pill the TA3 is not; that being said a high score for this section was well earned with no rounds significantly above my average putts per round and one round which was crazy good.
Miscellaneous (7 out of 10 points)
I have to say I’m enjoying a putter which can easily swipe the ball up off the ground, especially while playing summer golf in DC.
It would be nice if the entire putter head fit inside the cup (it’s just barely too big) and would be a suggestion I would make to Tommy Armour.
One thing that needs to be talked about is the condition of the packaging the TA3 arrived in. Multiple TA3 testers received boxes that were damaged, falling apart, and in my case completely open at one end. If Tommy Armour, which is already fighting the stigma of being a bargain brand, thinks the TA3 can compete with the likes of Ping, Taylormade, Odyssey, etc. then the packaging needs to hold up to the same standard. Hopefully Tommy Armour addresses this moving on.
Play it or Trade it? (19 out of 20 points)
Given that both the data I’ve collected, as well as on course performance has shown that the TA3 is every bit as good as my Ping, I would gladly put this club in my bag when the pressure is on. If a freak accident happened where all my clubs were destroyed the TA3 would be my first purchase because I know I can start a new bag around that club and not look back. The combination of the feel and looks are undeniably confidence inspiring for me which has led me to the decision to keep it in my bag for the rest of this season including for my league championship a month from now. I did make one small modification moving forward...
While I enjoyed the stock grip, I’ve known from the moment I’ve seen this putter in person I was going to put Evnroll’s gravity grip on it. I didn’t want to do so until after my forum review testing to make sure it was a pure evaluation of the TA3 only. For $130, I’ve got a poor man’s ER5B and saved myself $290; the tinkerer in me is beaming.
The Tommy Armour Tour Impact #3 is a close to the “real thing” as it gets from a bargain brand. It went toe to toe with my Ping gamer and definitely punched above its weight. This putter has the complete package at an exceptional value. Will you make every putt with the TA3? Obviously not. Will you never three putt again? Who are we kidding? But if you are in the market for a putter that just performs, get over the stigma, and give this club a shot. I think you’ll quickly find yourself believing you’ll make putts with it, all while taking it easy on your wallet.
Thank you MGS again for this awesome opportunity and forum members for your insights and attention.
Final Score: 91/100