Often, as I work my way through this project, I think of my Grandpa and his stories of working for “Mr. Ford” as a Tool Maker at the Highland Park, then Rouge Complex, then Willow Run Ford Plants over a 40 year career. I have his Gold Watch for 40 years of service… he retired the year I was born. He was never “Henry Ford” to him… he was only “Mr. Ford”. After Grandpa went to Heaven, Grandma would re-tell the stories.
One thing Mr. Ford knew very well, was that if an object didn’t perform properly, it needed a re-design. In other words, time to look for ways to change completely, and as necessary, the original thinking that created the “deficient or defective” version, and come up with a completely new and thought out solution for the problem at hand.
Though the majority of the work I did over three decades was not solely as a designer, it was the root of my engineering career. The skill that is most evident in all good design, especially evident to one who spent a lifetime searching & finding robust design solutions, is actually simple, basic, Common Sense. Mr. Ford had this in abundance.
The highlight of Mr. Ford’s “My Life & Work’, was surely, his Model T. It served it’s purpose. But we don’t drive them any more, for a good reason. It met his design goals… for that period. Genius.
Mr. Ford looked to create a solution for “the masses”. The Farmer, the Shopkeeper, the Tradesman, the Factory Worker, the Engineer, the Country Doctor… all would benefit from simple, robust, efficient, dependable Personal Transportation. It revolutionized Manufacturing, and his policy of Sharing the Benefits with his Workers (the $5 Day) helped create the Middle Class in America. It was the great “leveler” of society… all who worked, could pretty much afford the $280 Model T in the Roaring Twenties.
Of course, it only came in one color… as Ford said, “They can have any color they want, so long as it’s Black.”
The Black Swan & Black Hawk are simple tools. They are designed to do just one thing, and do it extraordinarily well… Make Putts.
They don’t look like conventional putters for a reason… physics and geometry can’t be disregarded and still have the putter perform. All previous putters disregarded the elements of good design.
Mr. Solheim designed a putter for his time… the Anser. It’s major impact was in bringing Investment Casting (lost wax process) into the golf clubhead manufacturing mainstream. A flood of castings followed. Was the Anser significantly better than all other contemporary putters? Only if you consider something under 5% significant.
But… 40+ years later… they’re still copying it today.
You don’t drive a 1965 Dodge Dart with a new fancy paint & graphic scheme, and consider yourself advanced on the road, do you? Then why do you use a S-Xerox version of Mr. Solheim’s 1960’s thinking, dressed up with red dots and a $359 price tag? It essentially putts no better… this phenomena of endless “inspired by” (knock-off) pretend magic collectible putters was beginning to resemble collecting Beanie Babies… ludicrous from a golf performance standpoint. Innovation? Exactly how? Different colors? It’s like somebody thought a Red Model T in 1980 was what passed for “innovative change”.
If you’re a player who cares how well he putts, there are exactly two choices in the game today. Both were designed to do it’s assigned job perfectly. Make Putts. Both are clean, functional, purposeful tools. Both are designed to perform as good as the Rules of God (physics & geometry) & the USGA (and please don’t tell the USGA we put them second because we fear them any less) Rules of Golf allows.
Of course, you can have the Hawk & Swan in any color you want, so long as it’s Black. You wouldn’t expect me to disregard that precedent, would you?