Technology is a consistent buzz word in the golf equipment industry and has been for generations. But just a brief look at the history of golf and golf clubs reveals several clubs that have made an undeniable impact on the game through unique design, materials, popularity or tournament success. The famous Bulls Eye putter has made a mark on all four of these points.
Originally introduced in the mid-1940s by John Reuter Jr., Inc., the Bulls Eye putter became wildly popular among recreational and tournament players alike. The original club was a simple design with a brass head that could putt the ball left or right-handed. Later designs added a flange along the back for stability.
The Reuter company was purchased by the Acushnet corporation, maker of Titleist golf balls, in 1962. Acushnet, founded in 1910, was originally a producer of rubber products and started making golf balls in the 1920s. Its golf business proved so popular that it expanded into club-making and today is one of the largest golf manufacturers in the world, owning Titleist, Foot Joy and several other brands. The Bulls Eye putter remained a popular club into the 1980s, when putter design in the industry started to take a more technological direction.
The Bulls Eye featured an unusual--for its time--center-shafted design. Made of polished or brushed brass, the putter distributed its weight both along the blade in front of the shaft but also in a smaller piece extending behind the shaft. The design meant the weight would more easily balance off-center hits. The club was offered in both a straight and flanged model. The softer brass clubhead offered players a new feel in their putting game.
Many tournament players used versions of the Bulls Eye putter throughout their careers and many tournaments were won with the popular club. Amateur championships, professional tour events and even major championships are among the successes notched by the Bulls Eye, perhaps most notably Johnny Miller's record 63 in the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont in Pennsylvania.
While putter design has taken marked detours from the design principles forged by John Reuter and the Bulls Eye putter, some of the major ideas remain in place. Weight distribution, minimizing the impact of off-center hits and simply rolling the ball end over end into the hole are still the most important aspects of putter design. Titleist designer Scotty Cameron has even taken a pass at a new version of the Bulls Eye in recent years, implementing a milled face on a carbon-steel clubhead in the classic center-shafted shape.