Connect with us

Equipment

Q&A with Machine Golf’s Dave Billings

Published

on

You voted, and Machine Golf’s Delta Prototype won the GolfWRX Custom Putter challenge.

We recently spoke with Dave Billings, President/CEO of Dogleg Right and Machine Golf, and master craftsmen of the winning putter, to learn more about what went into creating the masterpiece, what keeps him motivated to keep innovating, his thoughts on counterbalanced putters and the big news of what’s next for Machine Golf and Dogleg Right.

———————————————————-

WRX: Dave, congratulations to you and Machine Golf on winning our Custom Putter Showcase against some stiff competition. What was your concept for developing the Delta Proto? Describe a little bit of the process that went into building such a unique putter.

DB: Thanks very much! It’s a real honor, especially given the reputations of the other participants and all their great entries. Congrats to the other competitors for entering and creating such cool putters. I really liked them all.

198b4aeeb32c7b66de2ed45901e7ec73
The GolfWRX Custom Putter challenge winning putter: The Delta Proto.

As you know, the competition was described to us as really being up to us as far as how we wanted to approach it. I’ve enjoyed the Custom Biker Build-Offs for many years, and so I approached it along those lines. I saw our opportunity to create something really new and totally custom, and hopefully something new that people hadn’t ever seen before. At the same time, I wanted to highlight and showcase some of our newest customization, fitting and adjustability technologies.

DaveBillingsDaveBillings2
Dave Billings’ work station, where he dreams up ideas and crafts putters like the Delta Proto. Click the photos to enlarge them. 

So with the Delta Project, we’ve got two new patent-pending adjustability technologies here in this one putter, along with some of our other existing patented technologies. The existing technologies you’ve seen before in our putters including modular hosels, interchangeable flanges and adjustable weights and how they all work in concert with one another.

To that we added the new Delta Mod Adjusters, which allow you to adjust the loft, lie and toe hang of our putters. You can adjust each independently or in combination. We’re really excited about what this represents, especially as it applies to virtually all of our putters, and can be used in fitting and also in adjusting to course conditions such as different green speeds, grass types, so on. They are really small — you can hardly see them, but they work in a big way. And they can make small specification changes or large changes, or no changes, depending on your needs.

WRXdeltaProto
The Delta Proto allows golfers to adjust the back flange, as well as the loft, lie and toe hang.

The second new technology is the interchangeable and adjustable grip technology that we call the NextGrip.  This allows you to change the grip from any standard size grip to oversize, and even longer grips and counterbalanced grips. In the Delta Putter Project, we showed the putter changing from a standard length, standard setup putter all the way to a heavier head, longer, counterbalanced setup. That’s pretty cool and beneficial, because not everyone is sure they want to buy a new counter-balanced putter. This way you can test, adjust or change to find the setup that is best for you and your game. And if they don’t like counterbalanced it switches right back to standard.

And, we added a twist in that we brought back a prototype HOG Putter shaft from 20 years ago to show off the counterbalanced setup. The shaft is 1 inch in diameter, and is non-tapered, providing even pressure for both hands and a great platform to find the perfect balance point and feel for each individual. The butt also has a unique weighting mechanism, using the same adjustable weights that we use for the head. The head was made heavy for the counterbalanced setup by simply swapping one flange for the other.

There are a lot more details that went into the materials, custom milling and finishes to try to make this putter really stand out, but the concepts above are what I really wanted to enter in this competition and share with everyone. I’m thrilled that the readers liked it for what it represents.

WRX: Tell me about how the idea for the HOG putter shaft and aluminum grip came about, and what was the reaction to it 20 years ago? 

DB: The HOG Putter actually came about out of happenstance. I was working on a modular golf bag design for a new golf venture. This is back in 1994. I was making a prototype in my den, and had all these bag tubes lying around of different lengths. My son David, then 2 at the time, picked up one of the shorter tubes and started putting a ball with it. I noticed that he had this really stable, smooth shoulder stroke. I had previously given him a chopped down putter with a small grip and shaft and he had been really wristy with it, whacking it all over the place. So the larger shaft and grip just naturally and ergonomically took his hands out of the equation. So I started prototyping it and felt we really had something. My son is now 23, about to graduate college and has been working for me part time on the side, helping with CAD work and some patent work too, including on these new technologies, which is awesome. Crazy how time flies.

HOGputtergrip
The 2014 version of the Hog putter grip, made from 6061 Aerospace Aluminum Alloy, next to two leather interchangeable grips. 

The reaction when we introduced the first HOG was really wild, and it was exciting and a lot of fun to be involved with. We made it into most of the golf magazines and even Sports Illustrated from our first PGA Show and really set the industry abuzz — and started selling them all over the world. We also started getting some really good players interested, using and then winning with them, and that was also really exciting. Of course the product evolved over the years, but we really were successful in pioneering an oversized grip that was thin and light, straight and non-tapered, and also an oversized shaft technology that was stiffer, more stable, lower in torque and higher in overall MOI.  Some people say now we were just a little ahead of our time. But 20 years?

I will say this, when other companies claim to have the first, or the only non-tapered grip technology, you may want to question that — take a look at the HOG, both old and new. We think we’ve contributed a lot to the field, and have a lot more coming that players will be interested in and can benefit from.

WRX: A lot of putter companies are moving the way of counterbalance. Do you think counterbalancing is the solution for players when the anchor ban goes into effect?

DB: Counter-balancing is a good solution for lots of players, not just those looking for an alternative to the belly, long or broomstick putters. Certainly those who are needing or wanting to switch because of the upcoming anchoring ban should give them a try, and experiment with different specs and setups. It really is very personal, so having adjustability of the weights, grip sizes and lengths is a real plus in my mind. Fitting really helps too. Others may want to try the arm-lock or arm-rest types — and our Delta Project putter can also convert to those setups as well — or even face on or side-saddle-style putting. I’m actually working on several of those in projects right now and that’s also interesting and actually a valid and historic solution. In fact, Sam Snead used a HOG side-saddle for several years in the Legends, the Tradition and the Masters Par 3 tourney and in his bag on the first tee. So it’s fun to be working on those ideas again, and bring them forward with additional technologies and our new manufacturing capabilities. I’m really excited about all this new work and what it can mean for golfers looking for the right putter for them.

WRX: Whether its modular hosels, aluminum counter-balanced putter grips or interchangeable torched SS Damascus flanges with bongo cuts, you seem to always strive to push the envelop. What pushes you to want to innovate and be different, and how has that helped establish Machine Golf in the industry?

DB: Thanks. We do try to push the envelope. We love the process and work that goes into making something that’s new. It’s a challenge, and it’s exciting during the processes of problem solving and coming up with new solutions – sometimes to old questions like weighting, and sometimes entirely new questions like how do we best make a grip interchangeable.

DaveBillings3
Machine Golf’s factory where some of the most innovative putters in the industry get thought-up and constructed.

I’m proud that we’ve done so much innovation in the fields of adjustability and fitting technologies. We have over a dozen patents issued and pending in that space and they are becoming more important every day. Now most of the industry is going that way, so that is both rewarding and validating. At least my wife and kids don’t roll their eyes quite as much as they used to when I tell them about one of my crazy new ideas.

I think our customers do enjoy seeing us take older historic designs and make them in a new way, or give them new features and benefits especially so they can be better fit and customized to their specs and preferences. Our customers know we’ll do just about any custom designing, milling, grinding and hand shaping and finishing to make the club fit them better, and look better to their eye. In that sense we try to take the effort and dedication most of the big brands provide to their tour players, but we work hard to do that for every single customer. Our customers really appreciate that. Who doesn’t like feeling like their getting a product fit and made for them as well as a tour player?

It does help a lot that we make all our products in-house in our own machine shop. That’s been a real game changer for us, as we’re able to really put our hearts and souls into each and every putter we make.

WRX: What are some new products we can expect in the near future, and what’s next on the horizon for Machine Golf and Dogleg Right? 

DB: That’s a great question, but one that I’m going to have to be less forthcoming on because of some of the new work that we’re doing that we can’t quite publicize yet. I wish I could tell you today, but it won’t be too much longer. It is safe to say that we’ve got some really exciting developments in the pipeline, and that I’m very eager to launch and tell everyone about.  So stay tuned!

————————————————————–

Luckily, we aren’t left on too much of a cliffhanger, because the “exciting developments” have since been revealed to the public. DogLeg Right and Bobby Jones announced their partnership on Nov. 20, and are celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Bobby Jones company in 2014.

BobbyJones

Dogleg Right, with the help of Dave Billings, hand-crafted three series of putters — Silver Anniversary, Grand Slam and Bespoke Art — to celebrate. All three of the designs will feature Machine Golf’s innovative technologies, including adjustable weights, interchangeable necks, and the ability to adjust lie, loft and toe hang of the putters.

“When you study the history of Bobby Jones, one of the many things that comes to light is Mr. Jones’ passion for the science and art of club making,” said Andy Bell, President/CEO of Jones Global Sports. “We’ve known since taking over the leadership of the Bobby Jones brand this was an area where we wanted to expand our footprint strategically. This expansion begins with putters and we’re thrilled to partner with Dave Billings and Dogleg Right. They are putter experts and their committment to custom design, performance, playability and world-class service is readily apparent. We are proud that the first putters bearing Bobby Jones name in 25 years will be produced in partnership with the best in the business.”

Silver Anniversary ($699.99)

BobbyJonesprototype

The “Silver Anniversary” model celebrated Bobby Jones’ 25th Anniversary with modern classic designs crafted from “American Rustless” 303 steel, with a multi-faceted satin finish, and hand-polished soles. They also come with Bobby Jones’ logoed grips, head covers and shaft labels.

BobbyJonesgripheadcover

Grand Slam ($799.99)

The “Grand Slam” line has four different putters that commemorate Bobby Jones’ “Impregnable Quadrilateral” from 1930. The GS-1, GS-2, GS-3 and GS-4 are crafted from fine metals and hand-finished, and come with various custom options. This line will also come with Bobby Jones grips, head covers and shaft labels. This will be a super-limited edition release, with only 10 putters made of each model.

Bespoke Art ($1,499.99)

The “Bespoke Art” is a one-of-a-kind model that’s crafted individually by Dave Billings to the customer’s every spec and aesthetic preference. Each putter will come with a Certificate of Ownership, notes and drawings from Billings. These are made from options including Carbon Damascus, Mokume Gane and Titanium Demascus. Their precision, uniqueness and quality of metals justify the lofty price tag.

Your Reaction?
  • 4
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK1

We share your golf passion. You can follow GolfWRX on Twitter @GolfWRX, Facebook and Instagram.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. MTek VersaSpeed

    Dec 3, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Walt, let us both celebrate & congratulate Machine Golf for its wonderful achievement in winning GolfWRX’s Custom Putter challenge this time hey!

    If you start a new thread in the forums mate, i’ll be there for a looksee.

    Dave, if i may ask – the mix between tech v looks when producing a new putter for market. Is there a fine line there? Or is it all about the end result (sinking the putt)? Any thoughts?

    Thanks for your time & patience!

    cheers, Mark
    Mtek VersaSpeed

  2. Walter Graves

    Dec 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Putter Challenge

    Dave Billings

    Double Duty-The divot repair putter.
    I would like to issue a challenge to Dave Billings and any of your associates that are willing
    to take my putter and use it against any other putter on the market in a putting contest on its
    putting ability only.
    If you have the nerve to do this, I will supply you or them with all the Double Duty Putters necessary( Up To 5 ) to meet the challenge.
    The putter and all the pertinent information may be seen at http://www.divotrepairputer.com

    Thank you for your time and I wait your reply.

    Walt Graves
    WH Golf LLC
    Divot Repair Putter
    3251 Lyndon Drive
    Little River, SC 29566
    (843) 399-4043

  3. Mtek VersaSpeed

    Dec 2, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Hi Dave, your work is truly world class & its heartening to see Machine Golf (& a few other putter makers tbh) take on the real big boys head on with products that are super innovative, attractive & effective. Its no wonder there are so many happy golfers using Machine Putters around the globe, keep up the great work Machine Golf!

    ps – would love to know more about your Delta Proto! I had a adjustable mallet prototype conformed (by the USGA) way back in 2001 along the same lines as your Delta Proto. It went on to become …:) Good to see i’m not alone in the philosophy behind the innovation on your Awesome Delta Proto! Pm me if you like Dave!

    Cheers, Mark
    Mtek VersaSpeed

  4. TT X

    Dec 1, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Great to see/read about some serious innovation regarding the interchangablity and adjustability. Look forward to trying Dave Billings putters!

  5. tim

    Nov 30, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    I love my machine putter. Dave was wonderful to work with. It will never come out of my bag. I may tinker with it some, but it will be my last putter.

  6. dion

    Nov 29, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    really nice putters but I have had my circle T scotty o two years ad I don’t know how these compare

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Equipment

Forum Thread of the Day: “How I learned to stop worrying and love single length irons”

Published

on

Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from pinestreetgolf who shared his experience using single length irons. In pinestreetgolf’s excellent and thorough write-up, he explains just how single length irons worked for him, despite his previous suspects, and why he feels others should considering making the move to single length clubs in the future.

“First, I made a mistake I am constantly on others for making. I thought all-or-none. The whole “same stance, same swing, same plane” thing isn’t true. However, I decided that since one of them wasn’t true (if the lie changes, it all changes), then none of it was true. That was dumb. It’s about 80% true, and that is a lot. What I mean by that is that I struggle with ball position. Now I don’t. The club always feels the same, so you always just sort of start lining up the same all the time. It’s hard to describe, exactly. When my ball position creeps back, I start to get stuck. Now it doesn’t creep back. I grab the club, and the address position feels natural and easy.

Second, I made the mistake of thinking yardage gaps have to be consistent to be useful. They don’t. As my SL set tends towards its extremes, my gaps get larger. My 5 iron isn’t 10 yards behind my 6. But I know how far it is behind my six and I know I hit the center more often, so effectively, because I get much better contact, my gap is much more consistent even though it is smaller.

Third, I learned to hit a hybrid. I play them through 4 iron. I cannot get a SL 4 iron off the ground consistently, but my gaggle of G30 hybrids from the 2nd swing is fantastic.

Fourth, I kept my PM Grind for in and around the green complex.
Fifth, it makes practice MUCH more effective. Swap them out all the time. Hit a 6, hit a SW, hit a 9, hit a 7, rapid fire.

It took me a long time to get used to them, but the two massive pros are the setup/stance and practice. You set up the same way almost instinctively, and that is HUGE. I also feel like I get a ton more out of practice AND that my practice feels like the course a lot more.

There are some drawbacks. I found three specialty shots I had to add clubs at top and bottom to pull off:
1. A short-game only club, like a PM Grind.
2. Where the last SL doesn’t get airborne anymore. I used 3 hybrids below it. They hit middles of greens.
3. Ground balls – I can’t punch out nearly as well with a SL 5 as a CB 3 or 4. I’ve learned to use my driver on this shot.

If you are thinking about something new for irons and have some cash, I would recommend trying SL. It grew on me. I was wrong about it. The key is to stick with it. Just throw them in the bag for two months and when practicing switch up irons constantly – do NOT just bang one iron with an SL set.

Finally, either get fit or play with lie angle a lot. Mine are +3 up, and I’m only 6′. Feel great, dead even dirt line. But since they are all the same, they better be right. Just my thoughts on SL. They’ll be in my bag for the May – Sept. tournaments. I would highly recommend 1. ignoring my earlier posts on them and 2. trying them.”

Here are what a few of our members have said in response to pinestreetgolf’s post, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • snowman9000: “Some people get hung up on thinking that they aren’t supposed to have a shorter wedge. I kept one, no big deal. As to hybrids, that’s no biggie either. I mean, it’d be great if we could get good results with 13 clubs the same length, but that’s just not possible. Having SL irons is a huge simplification of the game, regardless of the rest of the bag.”
  • ChrisLC40: “OP I love how you summed everything up. I made the switch a little over two years ago and have made huge improvements. At times I think about going back to variable length irons because of the offerings, but OL is so repeatable, and I feel I may go backwards and need to relearn some things.”
  • LONGBALL777: “Welcome to the Dark Side!”

Entire Thread: “How I learned to stop worrying and love single length irons”

 

Your Reaction?
  • 14
  • LEGIT3
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK5

Continue Reading

Equipment

WRX Spotted: A pair of custom putters

Published

on

This week’s Zurich Classic is all about pairs — that goes for the two-man teams competing for the winner’s check(s), and in the case of notable putters we spotted, a pair of new one-off customs in bags this week: Abraham Ancer’s personal Bettinardi and Danny Lee’s new Scotty Cameron Super Rat.

Let’s start with the Danny Lee’s because there is a LOT going on with that club including first and foremost – it’s one nasty wand:

  • Super Rat head shape with a single sight line
  • The milled (actual) loft appears to be pretty standard for Cameron Putters
  • The hosel has been bent to accommodate Danny’s “armlock” style. This keeps the loft of the head where it should be while forward pressing. This kind of adjustment would need to be made to any standard putter if you were to try the armlock, or else you would deliver negative loft at impact
  • The shaft is LA Golf Shaft OZIK TP — a shaft designed to remove undesirable vibration through the shaft, while also reducing putter head oscillation at impact. Not a surprise considering the number of multi material/graphite putter shafts that are available right now to help improve consistency.
  • Last but not least a SuperStroke Flatso grip installed with the flat part of the grip aligned parallel to the putter face! This isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this, and it makes sense – Utilizing the orientation of the grip to create greater awareness of the face angle can help players of all skill levels create more consistent results, even tour pros.

Danny has had an interesting golf bag to follow this season with a number of changes coming almost weekly from irons to putters. Maybe this change could help turn his putting around (currently ranked 116th in strokes gained: putting), all while still being inside the top 50 in the FedEx Cup.

Now to Abraham Ancer’s new Custom DASS BBZero Tour Dept. Putter.

  • This putter is based off of the BBZerostyle head with rounded bumpers and a plumbers neck
  • Compared to the BBZero though, the heel is thicker and it could have a slightly shorter blade length (TBD)
  • It has a recessed sight line on the top that runs perpendicular to the sight line in the flange to form a “T.” This is interesting for a couple of reasons including that it looks to be the width of a golf ball, which could help Abraham find the center better. Also as a right-handed golfer, this type of alignment is an indication that he is most likely right-eye dominant and uses the face of the putter to align to the target as much if not more than the flange line.
  • Just like Danny’s above, this putter is also shafted with the LA Golf Shaft OZIK TP — there must be something about that that has more players testing it out.
  • And finally, the grip is the SuperStroke Claw. Judging by the cleanliness of both these grips these are both new to the players and testing will prove what ends up come tournament time.

Your Reaction?
  • 11
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW2
  • LOL3
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB2
  • SHANK11

Continue Reading

Equipment

Forum Thread of the Day: “Iron type for controlling shots into the wind?”

Published

on

Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from eckmanjp who is on the hunt for irons to help with controlling shots played into the wind. Our members give their opinions on what are the best options for eckmanjp, with plenty of different clubs and shafts recommended.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • driveandputtmachine: “Into the wind, spin is NOT your friend. No matter how low launching it will balloon. I was an extremely high spin player, in my search for something lower spinning my three best were…. TM P 790, Cobra Forged TEC, and Ping i500.The final piece is a shaft that spins high enough to hold greens, but not too high to balloon into the wind.”
  • mogc60: “Sounds like you have good clubs and shaft combo for reducing spin. Shafts do make a difference…but don’t cure the upshoot into the wind. Good advice above about more club and swinging slower…speed equals spin. I find the biggest mistake people make into the wind is playing the ball too far back and hitting down too hard. The key is smooth through impact and finishing low in your follow through…not pounding it down…that creates that upshooting shot that the wind destroys.”
  • dpb5031: “Technique plays the major role here, not equipment. Generally, anywhere from 1 to 3 extra club, grip down on the handle, and use what I call a wide-to-wide swing at 3/4 speed. Think limited arm swing (no longer than left arm parallel with the ground in BS) and then cover the ball, keep body turning through it, and finish wide & low, with handle following your rotating trunk around to the left.”
  • rxk9fan: “I think the head/shaft combo can make a huge difference of course along with how you deliver the clubhead into the ball. Take a look at the Titleist shaft chart and see what they are showing. FWIW though, the OP’s current shaft should not be a high launch/high spin shaft. I found both the 716 AP2 and CB to be tough to control spin with, but as suggested it was 100% my delivery at impact. I found the Srixon Z9xx series to spin less but the best thing I did was get to a quality teacher, and we improved a pretty tiny swing flaw that had a big impact on spin. Good luck. I can say I tried to “new club” my way through the spin problem, but three lessons is what it took to fix it.”

Entire Thread: “Iron type for controlling shots into the wind?”

Your Reaction?
  • 3
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK4

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending