In Grantland last week, an 8,000-word piece by a young man named Caleb Hannan told the story of Essay Anne Vanderbilt, known to her friends and people in the golf business as Dr. V. She designed what she considered a revolutionary putter, called Yar. She said it was near zero Moment of Inertia and the energy transfer was better than any other putter on the market.
In reporting and writing this piece, Hannan discovered that Vanderbilt did not have the credentials she claimed and that she was transgender. He made the fatal mistake of outing Dr. V to one of her investors. Dr. V later committed suicide.
I knew Dr. V. I had been introduced to her several years ago and had a handful of conversations with her. I have two Yar putters that she gave me. Talking with Dr. V meant you did a lot of listening and a lot of not understanding the jargon in which she spoke. But she was kind and passionate about what she says she created.
Hannan was wrong to out Dr. V and was equally wrong to write that she was transgender. That’s none of our business. In the midst of all the furor, one question remains: Is the Yar a good putter? Remember, the Wright Brothers were bicycle mechanics and Karsten Solheim was an engineer at GE.