Guerin Rife has been designing putters since the early 1990s and previously founded Rife. He speaks exclusively to GOLF RETAILING about his new company, Evnroll and the development of putters throughout the years.
What is your background?
In 1986 I moved back home to Orlando, Florida to be near family and open my own design and marketing firm. In the early 90’s I helped design and develop a putting trainer for David Leadbetter which was the beginning of my involvement in the golf space. This gave me access to David’s stable of players that included Nick Faldo, Nick Price, David Frost – the top players in the world. This actually led to my first putter design which was the first mallet with a cavity in the top so you could scoop up the ball. This bottom weighted shape also created lift allowing for little or no loft. This lead to closely spaced face grooves as a way to grip the ball and enhance over-spin.
How old were you when you created your first putter?
This was when I was 40. As a complete rookie I made the cavity mallet shape out of clay and did a sand cast of zinc. Then it was a process of hand sanding and polishing to smooth out the surface. I used a drill press to make a hosel hole for the shaft. The result was a super heavy head with looks only a mother could love. To this day my greatest thrill is seeing the first raw head come off the CNC machine with all its sharp milled edges of reflecting fresh cut steel.
How much have putters evolved over the last 30 years?
Well the short answer is that it’s a series of trends led by key players: polymer inserts for softer feel (Odyssey), extreme heel/toe weighting (Carbite and Never Compromise), alignment (Odyssey TwoBall), precision milled (Scotty Cameron), high MOI (Ping, Odyssey, TaylorMade), and finally roll technology (Rife, Yes). In most cases putters possessed multiple technologies. The long answer: until the mid 90’s everybody was coming up with ways to copy Ping’s heel-toe waiting from the 60’s. The big shift happened when Odyssey came on the scene with polymer inserts that softened the feel of the hard distance balls of the day. What was never discussed, but was of greater importance, was that the super light polymer allowed for weight to be moved back and away from the face producing larger more stable putter head designs. One-trick ponies don’t cut it anymore and today’s successful putters are a seamless blend of multiple technologies.
How and why was Evnroll founded?
Evnroll is the evolution of my face groove technology. A face technology that eliminates mishits by rolling the ball the same distance to the same spot for center and off-center hits. It’s just one of those ideas that had be brought to life. As the inventor of closely spaced grooves on putters I know that reduced contact surface means reduced energy transfer. I do a lot robot testing so I know off-center hits don’t go as far as putts hit on the sweet spot in the center of the putter. The eureka moment was progressively adding more contact surface away from the center to replace the loss of energy. The inward gearing effect created by the tapered V-shape was an unexpected bonus. In fact, in my earlier version of the Evnroll technology the V-shape was too wide and it tapered too fast. The off-centered hits went farther than the center hits and the balls actually crossed each other.
What is different about your putters?
I wouldn’t say different, I’d say special. One thing I’m very proud of is that our putters are precision milled, hand finished and assembled right here in Carlsbad, CA. Each putter design is milled to a specific gram weight to maintain a consistent tour-preferred swing weight to compliment its length. The head weight is heavier to provide more stability and forgiveness and the counter-weight under the grip brings the swing-weight back down for better distance control. There’s a beveled recess on the sole at the center of mass of each putter head design that allows the putter to always sit squarely to the target line regardless of hand position at address. And finally we have introduced a new alignment feature called LineAline. We placed two subtle unpainted dots along the top leading edge to either side of the cavity alignment line. The dots provide an unobtrusive reference point for a consistent address position and aid in the execution of breaking putts.
What advice would you give to golf pros to to help them sell more putters?
Custom fitting seems to be the next trend. Putters have become more sophisticated and the average golfer has become more knowledgeable with all the features offered on putters today. Dialing all that in requires the knowledge of a club fitter.
Evnroll putters are distributed in the UK through Premier Licensing. For more information about the putters, please visit evnroll.com