Whenever a new high-end putter company hits the market, invariably someone says something along the lines of “just what we needed – another Anser clone.” We believe that antipathy comes from the lack of originality in the designs coming from most of these putter makers. Take a look at this photo of 12 milled Anser clones from various premium putter companies with their logos blurred out. Can you tell any differences between them or identify which company made which? We can't either. Not only are they all the same shape, most of them have even copied the same tired circular face milling pattern that has been around since the advent of milled putters.
Does the world need another copy of the Ping Anser with some other guy’s name engraved on it?
Why do all these companies keep making the same putter? Because people buy them. Why do people buy them? Conformity. Familiarity. Fear of taking a risk and being different. We at Round 4 aren't big on conformity.
That said, there’s another reason why the general shape of the Anser and its many clones has been so popular. It’s good. Heel-toe weighting does improve MOI and increase forgiveness on mishits. So we at Round 4 wanted to make a heel-toe weighted blade, but we wanted to make something new, original, and fresh.
The original design concept behind the Roadster started with some brainstorming on symmetry and asymmetry in putter design. So many heel-toe weighted blades follow a relatively strict symmetry. Looking from behind, there is a cavity in the middle and the flange on either side of that cavity looks exactly the same. But must this symmetry exist? If you look closely, the blade as a whole isn’t truly symmetrical. The heel of the blade behind the hosel is often a bit trimmed compared to the toe. Aesthetically and physically this is balanced by the presence of the hosel, and the effect is successful. To us, this begged the question of how far that asymmetry can be taken.
However, when looking down at the ball, symmetry is necessary. When a player addresses a putt with this type of blade, imbalance between the heel and toe would be distracting. So any asymmetry introduced to the design needs to be invisible at address.
Symmetry can be the basis of beautiful designs in putters and beyond, but asymmetry opens up a world of design concepts typically overlooked by putter designers. One great example of a design that is symmetrical from one perspective but assymetrical from a different perspective is the automobile. In views from above or face on, the right and left sides of a car are perfect mirror images of each other. But viewed from the side, the front and back of a car are not. And that got us thinking about examples of beautiful fender lines from great cars designs. The one we really focused on was the Porsche 550 from the 1950s.
While not extreme, the difference in the shape of the front and rear fenders is what makes this car graceful and elegant. The rear fender is shorter and rounder, the front is longer and lower. Together they create a sense of flow and motion.
Starting with this inspiration, we drew some curves that would become the rear flange of the Round 4 Roadster. The design evolved in multiple ways. The curves got pushed and pulled a bit to fit the general dimensions of a putter. The cavity became wider to properly frame a golf ball at address. The back flange developed a 2-step progression from the face to the back to accentuate the square topline of the putter. Eventually, the curves of the flange morphed into this shape:
The final design, the finished product, and the view from address:
From address, the symmetry is perfect. In fact, the putter looks remarkably square and angular. It looks, feels, and plays like the best heel-toe weighted putters on the market. Yet it is new and unmistakably original.
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