There is no doubt that you, as a Northerner/Mid-Westerner have been ready for the winter to end for months. You’re jealous of those folks that live in Florida or California who have golf as an option every day of their lives, but you’re glad spring is finally here. Everyday from now until November you’ll be thinking of the greens while teaching your kid how to longboard, or doing dishes, or staring out your window. You just want to hit the links, beat your best score, and improve your putting. Is that too much to ask?
Speaking of improving your putting, you may have heard of Dr V’s Magic Putter before. One that looks like a putter a teenager would use at a put-put course when taking his girlfriend on a date. A big, square head with so much space in between that it almost looks like a cup holder. Some pros swore by it, and it even looked like it might take off as a reliable piece of equipment in golf circles, but unfortunately for Dr. V and everyone involved, tragedy struck before that could ever happen.
Caleb Hannan is an up and coming writer in his early 30′s who was doing what every young writer should be: looking for his big break. He thought he had found that when Bill Simmons – the most popular sports writer in America, and the editor-in-chief at Grantland.com, a sister site of ESPN.com – gave him the go ahead for a story on Dr. V’s Magic Putter, which he had stumbled upon on a sleepless night.
One night when Hannan couldn’t sleep, he did what every red blooded golf enthusiast does: searched for videos of tips to improve his game, putting especially. He ran into a video of a couple of golf pro’s discussing Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt’s magic putter with zero MOI (moments of inertia). Sounds fancy, but what it basically means is that there will be less movement in the head of the putter to give you more control over the club. He became intrigued about this physicist from MIT who invented a putter that sounded like it would change the game of golf once everyone discovered it, much like clap skates changed speed skating.
After some searching, and an exchange emails with strict stipulations by Dr. V herself that their conversation be about the putter only and not the inventor, Hannan had a phone conversation with the MIT intellectual. He was under strict order that because of the sensitive nature that her work consists of – secret government projects – she can not discuss herself or what she does. She was normal and intelligent in their conversation, and just seemed to be a physicist who thought it was time golf had a correct putter to use. She explained how she came up with the idea and some of what went into the design.
Hannan thought the stories Dr. V told him on the phone were a little strange. She said competitors tried to break into her warehouse and steal the club. She also said that she was allergic to the sun, and didn’t play golf herself. Pretty odd for someone who invented a gold club he thought. She was also 6’3” tall and had a very deep voice. She explained the deep voice by telling Hannan it was the affects of a collapsed larynx from a car crash. Hannan wanted to know more about the physicist, so he kept digging.
A Secret That Turned Into A Tragedy
As Hannan dug deeper, more things didn’t add up. MIT had no one by the name of Essay Anne Vanderbilt working for them, and Dr V. refused to meet Hannan in person. She increasingly avoided his calls and emails, and finally – after being confronted with the MIT information – asked for the article to not be published. Hannan spoke to a lawyer who represented a company that Dr. V sued once, and in not so many words the attorney told Hannan that Dr V was actually born a man. Hannan dug deeper and found that fact to be true. Dr. V had ex wives, children, and used to be known as Stephen Krol.
Hannan tracked down a retiree from Pittsburgh who invested $60,000 into the putter to get more information on Dr. V. He also told the investor – who had no idea or questions about the Dr’s gender– that his business partner was born a man. Hannan tried emailing Dr. V and confirming all that he had learned, but she wanted no part of it, or of the article being written.
After 8 months of research on Dr. V, back and forth emails and calls that turned into desperate please to not write the article, Hannan received a phone call from Dr V’s former brother in law confirming that she had killed herself.
If you read Hannan’s story, it’s plain to see that he is a very good writer, and Dr. V hurt a lot of people in her life with lies that had nothing to do with her gender. What you can also see is that Hannah had no business outing her to a business partner, and he was pretty callous in the way he presented that facts in the story.
Hannan has received death threats since the article was posted in January, and the story is a major black eye for grantland.com what is otherwise very well respected website. Simmons himself wrote an apology for the way he and his staff handled the story.
The story is still up on the site, and Simmons has said it will stay there as a reminder on how to deal with sensitive subjects. Hannan has been quiet since the story published, and is now being sued for something that happened before the Dr v story was published.
Golf is a simple game that gives players a mulligan when they make a mistake. It seems like Caleb Hannan could use one of those right about now.