Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Bulls Eye - Simple and Elegant

I have played golf for many decades. The vast majority of which I have used John Reuter's classic Bulls Eye putter. In the days when I could play (much better than I do know) the ever reliable blade putter holed more putts than any other putter I ever tried. Sure, I got funny looks, especially as everyone shifted to heel and toe weighted putters like the Ping Anser. But for me the Bulls Eye always came up trumps. 

The best putter I have ever seen (and played with) is Mark McNulty from Zimbabwe. Mark's stroke using the Bullseye is incredible and the old adage about "beware he who putts with the Bulls Eye" has never been more apt than when Mark putts. Johnny Miller's unbelievable round of 63 at Oakmont in the final round of the 1973 U.S Open was also achieved with the aid of the Bullseye. (he mentions it on almost every telecast!)

The original Bulls Eye design was by John Reuters Jr.  Made from soft yellow brass it was introduced in the 1940s and has been hugely successful ever since. In 1962, Reuter joined forces with the Acushnet Company and several subtle design modifications were made to the Bulls Eye's head shape, shaft and grip style. Each Bulls Eye continued to be shaped from brass heads for a soft, solid feel at impact. A unique flare tip and fluted shaft stood the test of time for enhanced touch and control. 

Here is a listing of the original designs.
Original: Medium weight, rounded toe, flat top. For right or left handers.
Old Standard: Medium weight with square toe and top blade. Sight line
Standard: Medium weight with rounded toe and top.
Light Blade: Like Old Standard but lighter, narrower.
Heavy Blade: Like Old Standard but with heavier, wider blade.
Bulls Eye Junior: Standard blade. 30" shaft. Scaled-down grip dimensions.
Heel Shafted Flange: Medium-heavy weight. Offset hosel. Sweet spot slot for improved feel and alignment.
Heel Shaft Flange II: Like the Heel Shafted Flange but without the Offset.
Wide Flange: Heavy, wide flange for low concentration of weight. Sweet spot slot. Idea. for large or slower greens.
Wide Flange Offset: Same as Wide Flange but offset.
Flange: Medium weight, slightly offset. Single sweet spot sight line.
LaFemme: Light weight for the woman golfer. Rounded toe, top and flange.
Left Handed Flange: Like the Flange but for the one out of every dozen golfers who plays left-handed. 

The ubiquitous Scotty Cameron got his hands on Reuters design in the 1980s and you can tell an original Reuters design from Scotty's remodel easily. A Bulls Eye with SC on the bottom is from Scotty. No SC and it's original. You would think the originals would be worth more, but that's not the case. As with all things Scotty, the collectors dictate the high prices, although his Bulls Eye style putters have rarely proved as popular as his Anser style putters.

The picture shows my 3 Bulls Eyes that get used in rotation. Two originals and one Scotty version.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sand Hills - The original "modern" masterpiece

Mullen, Nebraska. Where? If you know golf those two words mean one thing....Sand Hills Golf Club.

The owner, Dick Youngscap, took a huge risk in the mid 1990s by decided to build a golf course in the middle of the Sand Hills of Nebraska where play is limited by weather and geography.
But, fortune favors the brave and Sand Hills is an absolute gem, Top 10 in the World. Designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore with very limited earth moving required, the golf course evokes the sense of St. Andrews but in a very different setting. Like the Old Course, the fairways are huge, the greens allow the ground game and the course is affected by the wind, encouraging players to move the ball back in their stance and keep it low.
This golf course really put Coore and Crenshaw on the design map and they have gone on to create wonderful courses around the world including Hidden Creek in New Jersey, Colorado Golf Club near Denver and Friars Head on Long Island. You can see some great photos on their site here.
Sand Hills was at the forefront of the trend towards natural golf and has led to some wonderful golf courses that have followed in its wake, such as Ballyneal in Colorado, Prairie Club in South Dakota and the soon to be opened Cabot Links in Canada.
Sand Hills is the new definition of golf, nothing fancy, no carts, no paths, no country club, no cart girls, no bag drop, just golf....pure golf.

Monday, October 18, 2010

1966...the year of The Ping Anser

The year was 1966. England were winning the World Cup for the first and possibly last time and in Redwood City, California a GE mechanical engineer named Karten Solheim was designing the most successful putter of all time, The Ping Anser. His company name, Ping came form the sound of his original putter, the 1A.
With its familiar "plumbers neck" more golf manufacturers and putter companies have copied this design than any other in history and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, than Mr Solheim must have been a proud man.
The Anser is classic - every golfer has used one based on Karsten's design at some point and with its heel and toe weighting it is as relavent today as that day in 1966 when it first saw the light of day.
Ping stills sells bucket loads of the new model Anser or you can easily pick one up an original for $50 on ebay.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Dormie Club. An Absolute Gem!

I have just returned form our semi annual UK v. US match in North Carolina. We played great golf courses in and around Pinehurst - Mid Pines, Pine Needles, Tobacco Road and the majestic Dormie Club.
If you haven't heard of the Dormie will! It is the latest creation from Coore and Crenshaw, who alongside Tom Doak and Jim Urbina are creating the 21st century version of the vaunted Golden Age of Golf Architecture. Dormie is pure golf, creative design, wonderful greens complexes, a great walk and most importantly, FUN! The club is full of intrigue and rumor after changes of ownership, but that will all be forgotten as more people play this absolute gem. I may be feeling giddy after playing it, but it is already in my Top is that good. Pure golf, pure enjoyment.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Leather Golf Bag

The leather golf bag. Is there a better way to play golf than walking a great golf course, carrying your own leather golf bag. Just look at the picture above - a glorious celebration of the game of golf made by the best in the business, The Mackenzie Golf Bag Company. They are handmade to order, though you can find them in some of the best golf shops in the country. They are not cheap. They aren't meant to be. They are an expression of your love of the game and will last for a lifetime and then some.
The owner, Todd Rohrer, even included the Union Jack flag inside the pocket of the green Mackenzie Walker bag he made for me. It's our "in joke" and it makes me smile every time I use the bag.
The company also makes headcovers, shoe bags and shag bags, all crafted from the best leather that money can buy. Based in Portland, Oregon, Mackenzie continues to practice the art of high quality personal craftsmanship and maintaining all that is good about the game of golf. Read More Here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

White Wooden Golf Tees

Please, don't tell me your plastic tee allows the golf ball to go 3 yards further. One, I don't believe you and two, so what if it does. It's still no excuse to have a plastic tee in your pocket. Pure golfers play with white wooden tees.  (The natural wood finish is also acceptable). But please no logo tees, colored tees or god forbid, brush tees. The wooden tee is simple, classic and perfect for the job and in America, free! You can pick up a handful on the first tee at most clubs, unlike the UK where the pro will charge you a couple bucks for 20 tees! Enjoy the brilliance of one of the elements of the game that has remained unchanged in 50 years.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pure Golf Course Design - Ballyneal

There will be a lot more to come on golf course design as well as great products on "the golf purist". Here's one of my favorite holes from the last 10 years - the 7th at wonderful Ballyneal in Colorado.

Jan Craig Headcovers

We like the classics in golf - leather bags, white gloves, forged blades. This new blog is going to take a look at a few of these. Let's start with the wool head covers of Jan Craig. Here are mine in green and purple to match my golf bag! Jan Craig founded the company in 1962 and Jack Nicklaus was one of the first clients, followed swiftly by virtually every professional of the era. There are many JC wannabees, but nothing quite says "purist golfer" like her knitted woolen covers.