Last year, Bettinardi Golf went back to its roots and produce putters independently in their state-of-the-art facility in Tinley, Illinois after. Soon after, company president Robert Bettinardi appointed Red Golf as the exclusive distributor in the Philippines.
Red Golf has maintained strong ties with Pinoygolfer.com having been there from the very beginning. Three of the founding forum moderators – jick, xxio, and w2 – are also founding partners of Red Golf. Red Golf continues to provide forum members with special offers and privileges, and always support Pinoygolfer.com activities.
Bettinardi Golf quickly made its presence felt in Philippine soil. Using the Country Club Series putter design platform, Bettinardi Golf produced a limited run of Philippines Collector’s Edition putters with a flag motif on the sole. Past club champions of Cebu Country Club also commissioned the company to produce putters to commemorate their wins. This September, Club Filipino De Cebu will celebrate their 75th Anniversary with a limited run of commemorative putters for the winners of the Corn Tee. All of this is on top of Bettinardi Golf’s award-winning production line which has been a hit so far in both foreign and local soil.
Pinoygolfer.com members were given the chance to participate in a Bettinardi Golf putter demo program, where members would pass-on the putter which was the first of this kind of program in the country for any golf brand. Recently, they were given the chance to ask questions to Bettinardi Golf’s president, Robert J. Bettinardi.
Here is the interview transcript, as conducted by Red Golf president Jovi Neri, featuring questions asked by forum members. This is a Pinoygolfer.com exclusive!
Q: 2010 is the first year Bettinardi Golf has been fully independent from partnerships with other companies having ended your relationship with Mizuno. How has this year been like for the retail line in particular and the brand in general?
RJB: The year has been excellent. We came up with a sales goal for 2010 and have exceeded all of our expectations. The brand is making tremendous inroads.
Q: Bettinardi Golf products are now available in 47 countries worldwide, and the Philippines being one of the newcomers. What are your thoughts on the Philippine market?
RJB: The Philippines has been a real surprise to Bettinardi Golf. Filipinos have a lot of golf savvy and have been extremely open to all of our fine products. You are keen to the fact that our product is made here in the United States.
Q: A few Filipinos and junior golfers who have been to the USA just this summer have wondered why they don’t see Bettinardi Golf in big golf retailers such as Golfsmith, Roger Dunn’s, or Dick’s. Why can’t we find your product there and where can they find your products in the USA?
RJB: At this time, we are presenting our product to green grass accounts and selected club fitters. We will continue to support the PGA professional in all areas.
Q: After over a decade using the same putter, Tiger Woods finally made the switch during the Open Championship. Has a top pro golfer ever held on to a Bettinardi putter for an extended period?
RJB: We had Vijay Singh in 2004 win 4 tournaments in a row including the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. In this stretch, he became the number one golfer in the world, overtaking Tiger Woods, all with our BB-1 putter.
Q: In the PGA Tour today, who among the tour players that use your product gives you the best bragging rights and what putter model does he use?
RJB: Brian Gay is our staff player. We chose him because of his excellent putting. He is ranked among the top 5 in almost all categories in putting. He was awesome the last two years, winning 3 times on the PGA Tour with our BB-8 prototype. Bettinardi Golf will release a version of his putter in 2011. Be looking for this one because of limited quantities.
Q: What putter does Mr. Bob Bettinardi game and how long has it been in the bag? Are you the type to switch putters often or have you maintained a favorite gamer for years?
RJB: I am a mallet guy for sure. I have been using the same one for about 6 weeks. It is a prototype of the BB-32. I switch a lot to just test feel. I love the look of mallets at address. They are very easy to line up.
Q: If you were to pick a favorite putter that ever came out from the Bettinardi Golf facility, what would it be?
RJB: Probably the 38 Special which was made to commemorate my 38th birthday. It’s a very nice putter made from double aged stainless steel and 38 copper plugs. They all sold out very shortly after release. But the 50 Caliber will be coming soon.
Q: With your 50th birthday fast approaching and the release of the much-awaited 50 Caliber imminent, tell us your objective in its design. What sets it apart from the 38 Specials and 44 Magnums of the past?
RJB: All three putters were based off of different handguns. I am big supporter of the military and feel that the gun collection is a tribute to all personnel who protect us. I really can’t say anymore right now because the 50 Caliber has not yet been released.
Q: Have you been surprised by the demand for limited and tour putters in the Philippines? Putter collectors here want to know if you have plans to increase distribution and availability of your limited edition and tour putters to this market.
RJB: Great question. We know there is a huge demand for our special and prototype product. I appreciate the collectors of your country. They are very important to us. Yes we are working on trying to get more to be available. They do take a long time to produce and each one has its special characteristics and detail. I hope to bring this increase soon.
Q: Do you think there will ever be a putter design that will top the Anser shape, and if yes what will it be?
RJB: The only thing holding me back from designing a better putter is the USGA. There are dimensions and size limitations. It really handcuffs me and our design team. With that being said we have our ways of getting close to the edge.
Q: Where do you draw inspiration that you take into account for your new and future putter designs?
RJB: We here at Bettinardi Golf follow the tour. We have a full time tour rep out each week and I will go out also to at least six to ten events per year. Feedback from the best players in the world always helps. With this being said, we do allow for some unique designs to be processed. Some of the coolest ones always come from different types of inspiration. Bettinardi Golf is very proud of our engineers and machinists who work very hard on the new technologies and designs. We are looking ahead to the next best thing.
Q: Putter brands that were previously known for cast products are now coming up with milled product lines and saturating this market. What factors do you feel have contributed to the growth of the milled putter market?
RJB: Very simple, the milled putter is a better product. When I started making them in 1991 there was nobody but maybe two companies who were doing them. We have proved here at Bettinardi Golf through all of our research that a milled putter has the best feel and response to the golf ball than any other product. Bettinardi Golf is proud to be one of the pioneers behind this technology.
Q: Why should a person looking for a milled putter choose Bettinardi Golf over another brand?
RJB: Bettinardi Golf is a pioneer in the milled putter category. We developed the one-piece technology – which is taking a single block of metal and milling the putter in its entirety. The honeycomb face also been trademarked. It was developed to reduce the concave attribute of the face that happens when it is milled horizontally across the face. We now mill vertically up and down to produce the flattest putter face in golf. These are just a few of the advancements that Bettinardi Golf has produced
Q: Are there any new models coming soon from Bettinardi Golf? Will they come with interchangeable weight kits? Perhaps you can elaborate on that.
RJB: There will be three levels of product but I cannot reveal yet exactly what they will consist of. I am excited as these are being milled right now in my facility. No weight kits, but each model will come in three weight variations. More to come.
Q: For our parting shot: What motivates Bettinardi Golf to keep on making quality putters. What does the future hold for Bettinardi Golf?
RJB: Very simple, my motivation is to make the best for the best. The future is so bright we all have to wear sunglasses here at Bettinardi Golf. Thanks for this interview and hope to see you soon.