Bettinardi Golf Putters– Locally Grown
By Tony Portz of 2nd Swing Golf Blog
If games are won and lost on the green then Bettinardi Golf has one of the best pedigrees in recent golf history. With less than fifteen years under the belt this putter manufacturer has stacked-up dozens upon dozens of PGA, LPGA and Japan tour victories, including several majors. Brian Gay, one of Bettinardi’s top tour staff players has won multiple tourneys with his BB8 Tour Prototype, the most recent being that of the 2009 St. Jude Classic; these are impressive credentials for any putter maker.
What About Bob?
Robert Bettinardi is a sorcerer of steel and master engineer with true dedication and passion. In 1991 he began crafting some of the world's finest putters, which today are known as the Ferrari of flatsticks. Mr. Bettinardi’s creativity not only lies within his office but also out on the links. The love of playing golf has fueled some of his most creative ideas.
Milled in the USA
Nestled in Tinley Park, IL, Bob has an office that overlooks his entire production floor (pictured above), consisting of over a dozen of the best milling machines money can buy (around $350,000 a piece, not to put too-fine-a-point on it), in a 20,000 square foot factory. The material that is used to create these steel masterpieces is of the highest-grade. For instance, the Bettinardi BB Series Studio Stock putters are milled from a solid forging of 12L14 mild carbon steel blend—a blend that is the product of Bettinardi’s own formula. A honed and proven formula.
Everything takes place at this facility, from the 3-D CAD prototype design, which is carved-out right on the manufacturing floor within a 0.2% margin of error, to the full-on production process, the majority of the output coming from the milling machines and the operators themselves. Even the prototypes are weighted and balanced as true to design standards as possible, to ensure quality production.
Every single one of his Studio Stock series and BB series putters bare these words on the sole: “Bettinardi. Milled in the USA.” The stamp is not a badge of pride, it is a testament to quality manufacturing. When asked why he insists on keeping operations in the U.S., even though the costs of overseas manufacturing are lower, Bob has a strong opinion:
“Being in the manufacturing business my whole life I have seen the quality that we produce and the quality that comes from overseas. It may be okay for some, but not for Bettinardi. It’s a way of doing business and, of course, my name is on the putter.”
Which is to say that Bob firmly believes having the manufacturing floor directly adjacent to his office is an integral part of Bettinardi Golf quality-assurance. “My name is on the putter” pretty much sums-up his attitude and the philosophy of quality he abides.
Back to The Boutique
From a four-pound forging blank to a shiny new flat stick the process is all in-house, turning out roughly 18 putters per shift. Quality checks must be passed at every stage of the production process to ensure the best—and the best means the “flattest face in golf,” according to the company, the putter’s trademark honeycomb face measuring to a millionth of an inch flat. 18 putters per shift are not major manufacturer numbers, to say the least, but Bettinardi remains committed to his brand:
“When I first started in the golf industry in 1991 someone suggested that I make them in large volume and therefore you could sell more. I did the calculations and found out that our quality would suffer. With a poor quality product it wouldn’t take long for the customers to start going somewhere else. NO GOOD”
In 2006, Bettinardi Golf partnered with Mizuno for a short time. By 2009 they had parted ways, and since then the company has actually noticed a good amount of growth. The split was amicable, and was a conscientious decision on Bettinardi’s part in an effort to further develop the brand:
“The guys at Mizuno were the best. They treated me great and I appreciate the 4 years… It basically came down to what I thought was best for the Bettinardi brand.”
The pursuit of putting perfection doesn’t end with Bettinardi’s R&D dept., nor does it end with the production process. It comes at the conclusion of the putter fitting, a science that Bettinardi—the brand and the man alike—have worked tirelessly to perfect and promote:
“Out of all the clubs in the bag, I believe the putter deserves the most attention. Putter fitting is still very new and just starting to become mainstream… loft, lie, weight and grip are so important to achieve your best. Why not have the ability to be custom fit? It not only helps you physically but there [also] is the mental aspect.”
Studio B is the name for Bettinardi’s scientifically-enhanced putter-fitting process. The inaugural Studio B (pictured above) is housed at Bettinardi’s Tinley Park headquarters, open to the public by appt., and represents a delightful cross-section of technology and luxury, featuring the V1 Pro four-camera laser fitting system as well as a comfortable setting with amenities. The Bettinardi Studio B is, in the words of the company, “Part sport-science facility, part country club lounge.”
For Bettinardi, the pursuit of the perfect putting science continues and so does the promotion of putter fitting, as the brand opens satellite Studio B’s in other locations. The latest addition to this list is at the Country Club of the South in Atlanta, Georgia, the first in the Southeast. The only Midwest location besides the flagship studio outside Chi-town is located in the Minnesota suburb of Minnetonka, at 2nd Swing Golf, a golf retailer and e-tailer based in the Twin Cities area (pictured above). Scheduling an appointment for 2nd Swing’s Studio B location is even available through the Bettinardi.com homepage.
The Putter and Beyond
Keeping operations at-home and of a manageable size has thus far paid off for Bettinardi, as his company’s fifteenth golf season draws near a successful close. And, success is the kind of thing that will allow the golf manufacturer to continue to design and produce some of the most beautiful and high-performing putters on the market today. Riding the same momentum that brought the company this far, Bettinardi begins looking to the future, beyond the putter, designing and manufacturing milled belt buckles and currently developing wedge prototypes (pictured above). There is not a great amount of information available on the wedge prototypes as of yet (lock & key), but they all bare the trademark Bettinardi honeycomb face and feature the same high-grade material and precision-milled designs as the flat sticks that made this putter maker famous.
Robert J. Bettinardi