A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the Roll-Master putter manufacturing facilities. During that short visit I got to see first hand how putters are designed and made. Roll-master makes the “Ringer” line of putters. The putter is unique in that it makes a bell-like tone, much like that of fine crystal, when the ball is struck on the sweet spot of the putter. Practicing with this putter provides instant and automatic feedback about your putting stroke.
At first the sound was unfamiliar to me. No putter I had ever used produced a sound quite like this one. The differences in the sound from hitting the sweet spot and hitting it off center are quite dramatic. It really is an excellent way to know how solidly you’re stroking the putt without needing visual confirmation. You can also see how you stroked it on the roll out of the ball. A well struck putt from the sweet spot rolls out straight and with a solid end over end roll. A poorly stroked putt will tend to wobble off its intended line and will have a more erratic roll.
The putter is similar to a heavy putter in its weight, although with the counterbalancing weight it feels more like a mid weight putter. The club head weighs in at 400 grams. A weight of 125 grams sits in the grip end to act as a counterbalance, moderating the wrists and smoothing out the stroke. With the heavier club head the putter is easier to maintain online. It does take a bit of getting used to. I was told that most golfers who use the ringer, notice that in the beginning they leave putts short. They assume that the heavier putter will pull itself through with gravity alone, but that is not the case. A golfer still needs to make a confident stroke, but it is nothing that can’t be corrected by practice.
The last defining characteristic of the putter is that it has the first ever “EDM” face. A process called electric discharge machining creates 30,000 dimples on a typical Ringer putter. The resulting face is flat, non-slippery, and has a very unique feel to it. Running your hand over the face of the putter reminds you a bit of sandpaper, but in a smoother way. It does feel really nice and what I noticed is that it seems to grip the ball nicely and really put a beautiful end over end roll on the putts.
There is another putter in the works from Roll-Master Golf. The new putter is a blade design and it looks like it’s going to be an excellent putter.
Creating the EDM face on”The Ringer”
The process is very interesting and cool to watch. The putter head is secured and submerged in a machine that contains a liquid solution. The machining element then is lowered just above the putter and what looks like mini lightning strikes the putter face over and over for nearly a minute with the electrical element jumping out of the way after each “strike”. It certainly putts and feels differently than an insert putter.
Overall I found the putter to be an excellent piece of equipment. I’ve never seen a putter being made before, in person. It was a very cool experience and one that I won’t soon forget.
The putter is manufactured to very tight tolerances. KAF Manufacturing where the Ringer putter is made, is known as a precision machine shop, building parts for scientific equipment, aerospace and other technically demanding industries. While touring the shop they showed me a few mirrors for high end equipment. These mirrors are so precisely manufactured that they cannot be touched by a person as that will ruin them for their intended use.
Jack Feighery, CEO of Roll-Master Golf was also kind enough to donate a putter for use in the Fore! Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation golf marathon, to be used in the $10,000 putting contest.
The expertise of the craftsmen at KAF Manufacturing includes:
- Electrical Discharge Machining
- Single point diamond turning
- Precision ball and roller bearing manufacturing
- CNC turning
- CNC milling