How To Really Roll that Putt

I was feeding my two primary addictions a few days ago by looking at golf books. I stumbled upon The Golf Club, a book by Jeffery B. Ellis. According to the cover notes, Ellis is a champion amateur golfer, runs a business in collectible golf clubs, and has written several other books. His book The Clubmaker’s Art was on the Golf World list of the “top ten golf books of the 20th century.”

The book is a treasure trove of golf club photos and descriptions, and it puts some of the arguments about square grooves and belly putters into perspective. Golf has a long and honored history of trying to design clubs that make the game a little easier.

I particularly like the roller putters featured in the book. In 1894 James Montgomery designed a blade putter with a roller along the bottom, eliminating the risk of the putter catching in the grass and causing a “foozle.” The head was similar to my old Calamity Jane, pictured below, with the addition of a roller along the base of the blade.

The head of my old Calamity Jane putter.

Technology marched on, as it has a tendency to do, and by 1902 Thomas Black had designed a putter with a larger wooden head and two rollers in the bottom, thus preventing “duffing.”

By the late 1920’s Henry Sutton went Black one better and designed a metal mallet head putter with three (count ’em, three!) rollers in the bottom. The rollers could be removed and replaced with a solid piece, I suppose to reduce the screams of “Cheater!” from your opponents.

When my putting is in real trouble I sometimes get out my Calamity Jane and play a few rounds with it. It’s very unforgiving, and has a tendency to twist in your hand without a perfect stroke. You can really feel when your hit is off-center. I get a lot of ridicule when I use it, but it’s nothing to what I’d get if I installed some rollers.

That might be worth a try.

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