First Putter Head with Polymer Backed Face
1995 – Golfsmith Insulator Putter
Most people who design driver, wood, hybrid and ironheads do not design putter heads, and vice versa. Some of the most well-known putter designers such as John Reuter (Bulls-Eye), Otey Chrisman, Scotty Cameron, and Bobby Grace just to name a few, restrict their design talents only to putters. The Insulator putter was created by Tom in an effort to design a putter head with soft feel for use with the hard, 2-piece ball construction types but with a metal striking face for better feel than an all rubber face as well as for less friction between the ball and the putter face to reduce the severity of pulled or pushed putts. Granted, while this was a relatively ugly putter head shape which Tom would admit in deserving a ‘thumbs down’ cosmetic response, the technology for delivering a soft impact feel with harder golf balls while still reducing friction between the face and the ball was a sound clubhead design innovation.
First Putter Head with vertical Cg positioned at same height as the CG of the golf ball
2001 – Snake Eyes Straight In Putters
The diameter of a golf ball is 1.68″, which means its center of gravity (CG) is located in the center of the sphere, 0.89″ (22.6mm) up from the surface upon which the ball is sitting. The vast majority of putters have always been designed with a face height of 1″ (25mm). With most of a putter head’s mass located on the lower half of the head, the CG of the putter head is always well below the CG of the ball.
Back in the 1970s, the former PGA Golf Company introduced a putter which took the appearance of a flanged sole putter head turned upside down so that the protrusion of the flange stuck out from the top of the putter head. The model was designed to move more mass high on the putter head in an effort to induce less backspin and more forward roll on the putt. However, this design did not actually move the CG of the putter head up that far in relation to the CG of the ball because its face height was still made to be in the conventional putter head range of 24mm.
The Snake Eyes Straight-In putters were designed to achieve a CG position precisely level with the CG of the golf ball by designing the heads with a much taller face height. The heads were designed from soft aluminum in the center of the head and face, and with tungsten heel and toe sections to also greatly increase the MOI and off-center putt performance of the models. The Snake Eyes Straight-In putters became the first putter head design to deliver the CG position of the putter head directly in line with the CG of the ball to more effectively increase the potential for the ball to begin rolling with overspin sooner after impact.
First Putter Head with ultra-low friction, ultra-thin face insert to reduce putt side spin
2002 – Golfsmith Friction Free Putter; 2003 – Wishon Golf Smoooth Series Putters
Pulling or pushing the putt are common putting mistakes among all golfers typically caused either by the face of the putter not being square or the swing path of the putter not being on the target line of the putt . Putters made with a soft face insert or with a milled face increase the friction between the putter face and the ball. The softer the face insert, or the more rough the surface of the face from milling, the more the ball can be ‘grabbed’ at impact by a pulled or pushed putting stroke, and potentially hit more off-line.