Ricky Johnson Custom Putter Review
Ricky Johnson Custom Putters may not be a name you routinely come across when perusing the WITB articles on a Monday morning after a PGA event, but that hasn’t stopped them from creating a remarkable putter.
One of my “jobs” here at Three Guys Golf is to scour the internet in search of companies you’ve probably never heard of. For the most part, I feel the time we put into to researching new manufactures pays off. We are very privileged to showcase some truly amazing products that unequivocally “knocks our socks off” and, unfortunately, in a few other cases we’ve found out why certain businesses will continue to be in the realm of the unknown.
The group of writers we have are all huge fans of the boutique putter world (just look at the history of our reviews), and when we come across a newer company it’s not only exciting to see the work they are creating but also it’s a tremendous amount of fun learning how they came to be.
For this review, Ricky Johnson Custom Putters sent us their “Prototype” Five-O-Six Classic Series putter and from the moment I opened up the package I had a feeling I was in for a surprise.
Ricky Johnson Putters are constructed from the finest billet stock of 303SS and the feel at impact is outstanding. It’s taken me a few years to understand the benefits of utilizing a milled putter but now that I fully understand how valuable it is to your consistency I can’t imagine going back to an insert. The Five-O-Six has significantly backed that up.
As a product reviewer I’ve received a bunch of gear via the mail and I’d say for the most part the people shipping the products out do actually care that it gets to us in a fairly safe manner. However, dealing with the big brown truck on a daily basis at my real job, I see packages arrive where I wonder how in the hell it even made to its destination. With that in mind I certainly appreciate companies who put in a little more effort into their shipping practices to ensure proper delivery of their products.
RJ Custom Putters didn’t skimp on shipping by any means. The package that arrived was insulated to a level I’ve never seen before in a single product shipment. The putter came fully incased in a highly protected box that was internally lined with enough foam insulation to make an egg being dropped from 10 floors up feel safe.
The packaging might not seem like a big deal to most people but it resonated with me. When you see this level of commitment in a simple process like shipping out a club it really brings to light the mindset of the manufacture. It told me the person who placed this putter in the bag, then placed it in the fully protected shipping box, wanted the consumer on the other end to receive the putter exactly how it was when it left the shop. No mishaps in shipping, no accidents that may cause the putter to be harmed in any way. It’s a surefire way to ensure the putter that left Ricky Johnsons hands when it was shipped is exactly as it was when it’s touched by the new owner for the first time.
As surprised as I was by the means they shipped the putter, it was only the first sign of great things to come and with every process of my review it continued to getting better.
After I removed it from its plastic bag I immediately noticed there was a putter grip from Best Grips installed. Adam has been talking up Best Grips for a few years now and I’ve been eager to try them out, so I was really pleased to see RJ Custom Putters has decided to go with an American made product that has an outstanding reputation.
Attached to the shaft of the club is a Ricky Johnson Custom Putters logo’d sticker containing the loft and shaft length, which is a nice touch and adds to the custom aspect of the putter. As with most custom putters a headcover was also included from Best Grips’ putter headcover outfit Puttershoes and features a carbon fiber design that matches perfectly with the grip. From head to toe the Ricky Johnson putter is a fine looking weapon.
I was so eager to head outside and start hitting putts I completely forgot about the first rule of reviewing, get the pics first! The anticipation was too great though and there was no way I was going to wait for the following day’s sunlight to roll some putts, so against my better judgement I went outside to my backyard putting green and started hitting some putts.
The head design is stunning, elegant and simple. It features an engraved Ricky Johnson Custom Putters logo with the name of the club, in this instance “Prototype”, centered within the design. You can see from their twitter feed adding the customer’s name with a “Custom Built For:” tagline is very popular.
A single dot on the top edge of this prototype shows the center of the face and an engraved alignment line on the lower back half, both filled in with white paint, are perfectly implemented to not be obtrusive yet still provide the benefits of proper positioning.
Looking over the club with a fine tooth comb, I was really impressed with the beauty of the beveled edges on the back side of the putter head; they give the club a diverse look that contrasts beautifully with the sharp bold lines on the top.
The putter head is a traditional blade style that is face balanced, and when I say face balanced I mean it is so well balanced you could set a level to it, seriously! The milling of the face is a flawless work of art featuring a horizontal milling path across the entire face of the putter, minus the cutout near the heel for the Ricky Johnson label. Ricky Johnson Putters calls this patent-pending grove feature “GameFace” because with the perfect combination of distance and control it is sure to change the Face of your Game.
When you’re holding this club in your hands it’s very easy to tell you have something special that has come from a very talented individual. Which leads me into an obvious question I’m sure a bunch of you have to be wondering by now, Who is Ricky Johnson?
As I’m starting to learn with a lot of the custom putter manufacturers, Ricky Johnson, much like the others, comes from a background in precision milling and a love for the game. Beyond a passion for golf Mr. Johnson also enjoys racing cars, fishing, hunting and off-roading, and is quite the entrepreneur. Even with all his businesses and what he calls his “addictions”, it was the positive feedback from the custom made putters he had created for some friends and associates that led him to decide the time was now to follow one of his many dreams to be a club manufacturer. And so, he created what is now called Ricky Johnson Custom Putters.
Is goes without saying the common factor in these stories of machinist-turned club-maker is the beauty in the products they create. Taking a page from the famous Ansel Adams quote “you don’t’ take a photograph you make it”, custom putter builders don’t simply make a putter, they create one . . . and that’s been the story for the majority of the custom made putters we’ve reviewed.
You may recall our review of the MATI putter a few months ago, where the creator of those putters comes from a similar background as Mr. Johnson. I’m sure it’s because they’re both heavily involved in milling and their familiarity with the metals they utilize as to why their putters are so visually stunning and the attention to detail is exceptional. Makes me wish I would have followed in the footsteps of my Grandfather who also was a machinist.
With those years of experience working in the machining industry, the meticulous attention to detail is apparent. The more I’ve gotten to know Mr. Johnson and how precise he is when it comes to each putter he creates, it came to no surprise when I learned he’ll make a putter two or three times before he ships it. One tiny flaw and the process will start over. If it’s not perfect it doesn’t leave the shop. That’s a quality you just don’t find with the big boys.
It’s hard to put into words just how pristine the lines, curves and milling of the Five-O-Six are, but what makes the Ricky Johnson Putter even more amazing is it putts the ball even better than it looks.
In my lifelong quest to find the perfect flatstick I’ve become quite the putter hoarder. I swear, it’s not a sickness. With all the putters I’ve used over the past several years and even considering all the demo days and golf shows I’ve attended (even the PGA Show) there’s no doubt in my mind when I tell you the Ricky Johnson Putter rolls the ball better than any flatstick I’ve ever used. . . and believe me, that’s a long list.
From the very first stroke I made I was impressed with the roll I was achieving off the face. My struggle to be a more consistent putter is well documented on my site, so seeing the alignment line I draw on my golf balls not even waver a millimeter as they dropped into the cup time and time again was a joy to watch. The first session I had was backed up the following day with another outstanding practice and it inspired this tweet:
— Mathew Wangrycht (@MattWangrycht) February 7, 2015
The benefits of having a putting green right out the door in my backyard has made my putter reviews so much more enjoyable. I know it’s no match for how well it performs under pressure during a live round, but being able to go out back and stroke 100 putts a night has allowed me to get a feel for the club so much faster than I could have ever imagined.
While I’m not the best reader of greens, which is a main reason my 32 putts per round is still a stat in my game I despise, what I’ve noticed since putting the Ricky Johnson Putter in my bag is that I’m getting the ball much closer to the hole on longer reads. During the second half of 2014 I put up some rather poor putting stats. I was averaging almost 2.5 three putts per round and right near 34 putts per round. I wasn’t exactly lighting it up.
No longer is that the case.
The balance is outstanding and the weight fits my putting stroke perfectly. I’ve always been a fan of heavier putter heads and while the weight of the Ricky Johnson putter isn’t overbearing and distracting like heavy heads can be, it does have the characteristic where you know it’s in your hands.
My putting stroke is now what I call ‘smooth as silk’ and I’m dropping putts like never before. Most recently I put forth one of my best putting outings in a long time where some very crucial putts found their way to the bottom of the cup, and because of that I broke 39 for the first time on nine holes. Two birdie attempts that lipped out had me on the verge of shooting par on that nine and I know having the Ricky Johnson putter was a major contributor to my success that day.
In short, adding the Ricky Johnson Putter to my bag as my everyday gamer has improved my putting stroke in almost every category. My putts per round is down, my 3-putt disasters are WAY down, my 1 putts are on the rise and I’ve made more putts inside of 15’ than I did all of last year. The confidence I’ve shown on the green has been bewildering to my opponents and even more so to myself. Whereas before I would cringe at a 15’ breaking from right to left (my ultimate putting nemesis) now I stand over it and stare down the ball right into the hole, most of the time.
I’ve made a few tweaks to my setup and I know that how quickly the ball gets rolling forward off the face of the Five-O-Six has a lot to do with it. The balls stays on the intended line so much better than my previous putter.
It’s been a pure joy getting to know Mr. Johnson. His passion for the game rivals even my lunacy and I think it’s part of the reason we’ve become good friends. It’s not uncommon for me at all to get into a lengthy conversation with him about anything golf related, but for the most part we chat quite a bit about clubs and designs. What do you think about this? What’s your opinion about these clubs? And so on. He truly is a fan of the sport and it’s clearly shown in his desire to create the perfect putter.
You can read more about the Ricky Johnson Custom Putters on their website and also order one for yourself. The Five-O-Six Classic series putter sells for $325.00 and believe me when I tell you it’s a bargain for what you get. They also have a tour model ($425.00) that feature an elegantly milled hosel and comes in the polished finish or black ceramic coating which is stunning.
Aside from their site you can also find Ricky Johnson Custom Putters on Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to give them a follow so you can keep up with all the new putters Mr. Johnson has coming in the future. From what I’ve heard he’s going to be a very busy man!