When we show the Black Hawk & Black Swan Putters to Golf Professionals, we get pretty much the exact same reaction dynamic every time…
Before they know the facts, and have putted with the Black Swan, the Pro is skeptical, from mildly doubting to wildly opinionated. We understand why. When nobody in the world can make more than 20% of their twenty-footers over any serious stretch, and then you hear a guy saying he’s got 5 balls from 90+ feet, and asks how many you’d like to see made, it’s a shock to the system. Typical response? No way pal… you can’t make any from this distance! You can’t make one-of-five from twenty feet! Much less ninety!
Of course, it’s a bigger shock when he actually sees me make one, or even two, or more… all while hitting it from all over the putter-face. Plus, the misses darn near go in too, with perfect speed. Then when I ask him to do it, and he too make long putts repeatedly, then the sudden conflicting emotions and thoughts come rushing in…
How the heck is this possible?
Is this USGA Legal?
If it’s really true, why didn’t the other companies do this?
Why isn’t every Tour player in the world using it right now?
Can you make one do this that looks like my putter?
We hear these things every day. They are perfectly rational reactions to seeing for themself what one Hall Of Famer calls… “Black Magic”.
Now, Putting had a Past. It started with the Ancient Scots, and long-nose wooden putters. Old Tom Morris made wrought iron heel shafted putters. Then, when Walter Travis won the British Amateur using the center-shafted aluminum head “Schenectady Putter” (designed by A.F. Knight, an engineer, who worked at Thomas Edison’s Schenectady, NY, General Electric factory). Interesting enough, but when the Royal & Ancient banned it, and those like it (for nearly half a century), it was the beginning of a long cycle. History doesn’t necessarily repeat, but it does tend to follow cyclic rhymes. Read about the Schenectady putter in “American Golfer” magazine, circa 1911… http://www.la84foundation.org/SportsLibrary/AmericanGolfer/1911/ag55i.pdf
Other putters were of course famous… Bobby Jones soon won a baker’s dozen Major Championships with Calamity Jane… a putter not much better than Old Tom Morris’ creation. Along came the Spalding Cash-In, MacGregor Silver Scot Tommy Armour IronMaster (Nicklaus 1960), the Acushnet Bullseye, and the Wilson 8802 (Palmer, Crenshaw). All classics.
Did putting fundamentally change? No. The Proof is in the Putting. Golfers did not appreciably improve their putting with any of these putters, or any others. Rounder balls and better greens were the root causes of most of what little improvement there was in putting proficiency.
Karsten Solheim (another GE engineer, from Arizona) brought putters into a new age, with the modified heel & toe weighted “Anser”. An Investment Casting, it opened the door to a cheaper way to make putter-heads, in high volume, of various alloys. You didn’t need a factory with forging and machining capability… you just needed an Invest-Cast foundry as a supplier, and an aerospace engineer would know of many. It was brilliant, and it opened golf manufacturing to a new age.
Did the Anser work appreciably better? Is 5% significant? The Anser, by any rational measure, was something less than 5% more proficient than the contemporary putters of the day. The real breakthrough was in the production method employed, not the improvement on the greens.
The fact that it is nearly impossible to prove a putter is even 5% better than any other is obvious to practical statisticians. For example, if it was completely known that a certain putter was capable to a defined level of performance (make % at a given putt), then that same putt, with a different putter, would need to hold up under a long enough trial to give a high enough confidence level to the assertion that it was better. How much? Well, using the science of statistics, even a 20% capable trial, to acheive a 21% result (5% better), requires the performance to be in a test that lasted 5000 putts (each) to get above the 95% level of certainty that it was not due to simply random cause. If it was even a 500 putt test at 5% better, you would not even be close (under 70%) to being able to determine it’s superiority.
So… forty years later, there are roughly 700 knock-offs (inspired by) of Karsten’s work. It is entrenched in the public’s mind as what a putter should look like… “the Anser Putter” is, in the main, “what a Putter is, or should be”.
But… for 150 years, putter designers forgot their basic physics, geometry and trigonometry.
Now… my first invention (1983, and patented) was assigned to General Electric, where I was an Automation & Robotics Project Engineer. It dealt with Inertial (low) Tooling for Robotics. Two years later, I solved a complex geometry (trig) problem for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Engines, that dealt with compound angle orientation (error) of turbine compressor blade tooling… it was in the engines of the 767 and 747 aircraft that Pratt started kicking their compressor blades at a compound to the engine axis. I solved the problem, and wrote computer programs to prove it… (3D Cad was fairly recent, and not able to solve this). Nine senior engineers, the Chief Inspector, and the entire technical staff at the most elite turbine blade manufacturer fought me tooth and nail through the process. I was 25 years old… they had on average 25 years experience. But math is what it is… and the truth wins in the end… so I ended up training all of them, and all their sister facilities. I became their ‘Go-to-Can-do” troubleshooter for over a decade.
Why does that matter?
It’s an example of the foundation of the thinking in the design of the Black Hawk & Black Swan putters.
Putters with “Perfect Geometry”.
Putters without the major Geometry Defect of other putters.
Putters with adequate Inertia… in short… far higher “MOI”.
Putters without a stupidly small Sweet Spot.
Putters that Eliminate Bias.
Putters that Actually Putt Where You Aim.
Putters that Roll the Ball Better than Any Others.
Putters that Reduce Variance.
Putters Designed to Make Putts.
Putters that made 43% more putts when tested by 60 top players.
Putters that help you Control Speed & Distance.
Putters that make Far More Breaking Putts.
Putters that Greatly Reduce Three-Putts.
Putters that Swing Like a Pendulum.
Putters with Balance Point Closer to the Ball.
Putters with Total Balance.
Putters that “Make Your Stroke Better!”
Putters that Help You Read Greens Better.
Putters that Do Not Compromise “Makes” for “Conventional Look”.
Putters that Make You the Best Putter Possible.
What do we call such thinking?
The Future of Putting.