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Evnroll ER11vx, Zero putters: What you need to know

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Evnroll updates its ER11vx extreme mallet with extended stainless steel wings compared to its predecessor. It also introduces the Zero, another large format mallet with extreme heel and toe weighting, a centered shaft and a special weighted grip to improve a player’s sense of face angle during the stroke for more square-faced impacts.

PRICE: The new ER11vx will retail for $430, while the Zero will be $450. Available in March.

THE DEEP DIVE: It may not necessarily be the case that contrarians make the best inventors. It may not exactly be the case either that veteran putter designer Guerin Rife, the brains behind Evnroll putters, is a contrarian. But he is certainly not shy about going against the grain.

For instance, he’s not so sure about prevailing wisdom of fitting “arcing strokes” to putters with more toe hang or face-balanced putters to strokes that are more straight-back and straight-through. (Toe hang refers to how when a putter is balanced on its shaft, particularly on many heel-shafted putters, the degree to which the toe tends to hang down relative to the heel. This is contrasted with “face-balanced” putters where the heel and toe are even and facing the sky when the putter is balanced on its shaft.) Oh, for sure, he believes in hosel options. It’s why his V-series of putters have six hosel options, and it’s also why his latest mallet is neither face-balanced nor has toe hang.

Contrarian? Rife thinks it’s something else. “I love nerds, I’m one myself,” he said. “We’re not afraid to take risks. That’s how innovation gets done.”

Rife, whose grooved putters at Evnroll have continued a tradition of interesting putter ideas that go back three decades, wants the consumer to think about hosels (and even grips) more than they have in terms of finding the putter that works best. Hence, the multiple hosels in his V-Series line. It’s not to make things more complicated, it’s to simplify the fitting process.

“Hosels matter,” Rife said, whose research with golfers and the Quintic putting launch monitor has fueled his understanding of how players return the putter face to square (or zero) at impact. “Most people know if they have a problem pushing or pulling. But nobody understands arc and toe hang. When they hit the right hosel, though, they start hitting their lines. It’s like a light bulb goes on and their face angle numbers go to zero.”

Rife explained that longer hosels and face-balanced putters tend to be best for those whose miss is more often a push. Putters with shorter hosels that result in toe hang are better for those who tend to fight a pull with their putts.

“Arc really does not happen,” he said. “The shaft travels on a straight line. It may look that way from above but the shaft is actually traveling on a straight line. If there’s any arc in the putting stroke, it’s in the face rotation. It’s a lot harder to pull a toe hang putter because the toe is lagging and resisting closing. If you have a face-balanced putter, it’s much easier to pull the ball. You can rotate the face very easily because there’s no toe resistance.”

Rife has added two hosels to the lineup of nine blade and mallet models in the V-Series, an inline short slant neck and a mid-slant neck. That gives six hosel options in total for the line. Any of the models in the Rife V-Series line can be fit into any of the hosels, which can be installed with the kind of wrench typically used in an adjustable driver. The idea is to match your natural miss (push or pull) with the hosel type: shorter hosels with the most toe hang for pulls, mid-length hosels with moderate toe hang for those with a neutral stroke, the long hosels or face-balanced models for those who struggle with a push.

The new models include a revamp of last year’s large-form mallet, the ER11v. The line extension, the ER11vx, expanded its moment of inertia, or forgiveness, by extending the rear wings, which are made of heavy 303 stainless steel, from the 6061 aircraft aluminum body.

That model also is a good fit for Rife’s Midlock putter grip, which allows a traditional shaft and head weight putter to experience the benefits of the armlock style without dramatic tweaks to shaft, head weight and loft. The shaft inserts into the Midlock grip off center, while the natural angle of the sideways grip rests against the inside of the forearm. Under Rife’s methodology, all a consumer would have to do is add six inches to his or her preferred standard putter shaft length before ordering a model with the Midlock grip.

“It’s just simplified the whole idea of armlock putting,” Rife said. “A real armlock requires an intense custom fitting with all sorts of changes. This doesn’t.”

Also continuing on the Rife innovation train is a new approach to the idea of torque-balanced putters. Previously seen in designs like those from L.A.B. Golf (Directed Force) or Edel’s EAS putters, Evnroll is launching the Zero, an X-shaped mallet with a center shaft positioned toward the rear of the body. The key is not just the weighting or the shaft position, but the use of Rife’s Gravity Grip, which debuted last year and features a 70-gram steel rod imbedded in the lightweight foam grip to help golfers better sense a square face angle during the stroke.

“The problem with zero torque putters is you can’t feel the face,” Rife said. “We’re kind of disturbing the no torque by adding the Gravity Grip, but we want to because we want the hands to know where the face is, but still have the sensation of a putter that glides without any twisting and turning.”

The Zero features 30-gram steel weights in the extreme heel and toe positions on the front and rear of the sole of the aircraft aluminum body. The face is forward of the shaft, while a circular cutout in the body provides a ball-sized alignment aid.

Of course, all models still feature the Evnroll grooved face design. The grooves’ width and spacing get narrower as they move out from the center, which means more direct energy is transferred at impact on toe and heel hits to produce consistent distances regardless of impact location. Meanwhile, because of the varying depth of the grooves, they also form a slight inward angle to further guide those heel and toe mishits back towards the target line.

Evnroll is also adding a line of shorter-shafted women's models to its lineup. Mirroring two of the popular styles from the original ER series.The ER2 blade and ER5 mallet will be offered in 32- and 33-inch lengths with a turquoise paintfill. They feature an extra 15 grams added to each head for stability, with a 120-gram counterweighted grip for improved control ($360).

The Evnroll ER11vx ($430) and Zero ($450) will be at retail in March.