Industry Voices: Five Minutes with Putter Guru Bob Bettinardi
Born in Chicago, Robert Bettinardi carries on a family tradition of quality metal craft. His father, a master miller as well, gave Robert his early exposure to the field of engineering. From the age of 12 on, his summers were spent working in his father’s machining facility learning the craft from the ground up. He would go on to receive a degree from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and later open his own engineering and milling facility, X-Cel Technologies, in Tinley Park, Il, producing parts for the defense and medical industries.
An avid golfer even as a young man, Bettinardi combined his passions and began crafting One-Piece Technology putters in the early 90’s, and founded Bettinardi Golf in 1998. His first milestone came in 1999 when Jesper Parnevik shot 23-under-par for a tournament record 265 at the Greater Greensboro Open using a Bettinardi BB-10. A few years later with major tournament wins by Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh would seal the deal.
Bettinardi’s staff has grown from a mere handful in the 1990’s to now over 50 employees designing, crafting, and fitting One-Piece putters (and now high-end, stylish Buckles) for players around the world.
GM: How is your company faring in the putter marketplace?
RB: The market and sales of putters are doing great for Bettinardi golf. Making the best has been the best decision I ever made.
GM: How are Bettinardi putters different from the competition?
RB: Number one, it’s where they are made, and number two, it’s how they are made, from the finest craftsmen to the best materials we can find. Like a very fine wine.
GM: What are you most proud of during your career?
RB: Staying profitable in this highly competitive business.
GM: What makes an excellent performing putter?
RB: The construction(one piece technology) and the feel(soft materials).
GM: What is your opinion of the UGSA’s apparent soon-to-be outlawing of the belly putter?
RB: I think it is a bad move on the USGA’s part. Golf is a very tough game and we need to make things easier not harder. The easier (less frustrating) it is the more people will want to play.
GM: How is putter design/making different than it was 15 or 20 years ago?
RB: Twenty years ago there was no CNC equipment, therefore there was no milling being done. Also, the Cadd/Cam has helped tremendously with design.
GM: What is the future of putter design?
RB: The USGA always handcuffs golf designers, but in the future we will be coming up with putters that feel so good that the golf ball will seem to want to go in the hole.
GM: What is your hottest new putter?
RB: We have a very special line coming in 2013. The new lineup will be awesome. With that being said, we developed an oversized aluminum mallet that just came out, with a release date of Dec. 1.