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Behind the scenes at Bettinardi Golf HQ

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In a business driven by narratives, Bettinardi Golf is strong in its distinctions: innovators, craftsmen, artists. Of course, winning helps, too.

Bettinardi has cemented itself among putter-maker elites with unique designs that have been validated by the best golfers in the world in the form of major championship wins and dozens of other PGA Tour victories. With its recent releases, as well as through its custom putters, Bettinardi has also flexed its artistic muscles.

A Bettinardi BB Zero with a “Brook Trout” design and adjustable pocket weight that was sold at Bettinardi's 2015 Summer Social.

A Bettinardi BB Zero with a “Brook Trout” design and adjustable pocket weight that was sold at the company’s 2015 Summer Social.

Maybe just as important to the company’s steady growth in the golf equipment industry over the past two decades, however, is something as simple as where Bettinardi putters are made. Bob Bettinardi’s office is 25 feet from his manufacturing floor. His son Sam’s office, located on the other side of the building, is a few feet closer.

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Bettinardi Golf HQ is located 40 minutes south of Chicago in Tinley Park, Ill.

Spend the day at the company’s Tinley Park, Illinois, headquarters with the Bettinardi’s and you’ll know what it’s like to be fully committed to something. Yes, both father and son share a special passion for the game of golf. What became clear, however, was that the stick-and-ball game is an outlet for an even stronger passion. The Bettinardis are obsessive about quality.

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A custom Bettinardi Kuchar Model 1 putter that was made for Fred Couples. He’ll receive two other putters just like it in three different lengths for testing.

Remarkable attention to detail is the running theme around Bettinardi HQ, whether the company is making a retail putter or a completely custom model. Both are produced with the same CNC milling machines and engraving tools, and undergo the same multiple-point, model-specific inspections. And if golfers do decide to go the completely custom route, they can trust that their putter will be made by the same people who make putters for Matt Kuchar, Fred Couples, Brian Gay and Jim Herman.

Learn more about Bettinardi Golf in the photos below.

Two putters, one block of steel

4047a8c30387d497b0cc93aff681957cThese two Bettinardi Studio Stock #6 putters were milled from a block of mild carbon steel that looked just like the one underneath them.

It was Bob Bettinardi’s belief when he started his putter business in the early 1990s that the CNC milling procedures he was using to create products for the Department of Defense, as well as the telecommunication and the medical industry, would create putters that were superior to what was available at the time. Now, CNC milling is standard procedure for premium putters.

Tighter Tolerances

3cf15d77efaa993e437fa16a2ca40c07Bettinardi’s CNC milling and engraving processes lead to putters with extremely tight tolerances, which is why every Bettinardi lists its putter head weights to the gram. For reference, a gram is approximately the weight of one paper clip.

The Tour Stock BB Zero pictured above weighs exactly 351.5 grams, falling within the company’s 2-gram tolerance.

The Manufacturing Floor

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This photo shows roughly one-quarter of Bettinardi’s manufacturing floor. No other facility produces Bettinardi putters, giving the company complete over its manufacturing and assembly. The only step the company outsources is plating, which is done in California, making Bettinardi putter heads 100 percent made-in-the-U.S.A products.

A Do-Anything Custom Department

Let’s say you shot a duck on a family hunting trip with a 20-gauge shotgun.

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Let’s also say it was a special duck wearing what’s called a “duck band,” trackers that support waterfowl conservation efforts. Wanting to remember the moment, you had the idea to send the tag to Bettinardi and have it used in a putter design. Maybe the tag could fill the cavity of a custom BB8 DASS (Double Age Stainless Steel) putter, you thought?

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The Bettinardi Custom Team could design a putter to perfectly accomodate the tag, and add your name as well as the gun you used to bring down the bird… and yes, the Bettinardi Custom Team actually did this.

Seriously, Bettinardi will do almost anything

c5af3ddb7a6101cd30e9dbad0ecd5e42Here’s a putter Bettinardi was designing for a multiple-time PGA Tour winner, who requested a welded-neck putter in the style shown on the CAD screen. Bettinardi doesn’t currently make such a putter shape, so it had to design one from scratch.

Multi-piece Bettinardis

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Recent mallets from Bettinardi, including the Inovai 3.0 shown above, are created from two pieces: steel and aluminum. Since steel (right) is much heavier than aluminum (left), the steel is used to position weight in the back of the putter to improve moment of inertia (MOI), a measure of a putter’s forgiveness.

Each of the pieces is 100 percent milled, and then secured together with specially design screws.

How much heavier steel is than aluminum

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These blocks are different sizes, but they weigh the same amount. Can you guess which one is aluminum and which one is steel?

Engraving the BB Series

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See that green stuff in the cavity of the BB Series putter on the right? It’s necessary to cool down the metal during the engraving process.

Prototype Alert

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If you’re been holding out for an adjustable weight putter from Bettinardi, you might finally be able to pull the trigger on such a model in 2016. Here’s a prototype I spotted at HQ with Bettinardi’s F.I.T. Face, which is the softest-feeling of the company’s three face-milling patterns. The other two patterns, FlyMill and HoneyComb, offer slightly firmer feels, with HoneyComb being the firmest.

Matt Kuchar’s next putter?

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Speaking of prototypes, here’s an Inovai 3.0 Arm Lock that was designed for Matt Kuchar.

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Pingback: Behind the scenes at Bettinardi Golf

  2. nunya

    Dec 31, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    That inovai arm lock should be retail.

  3. Chuck

    Dec 30, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Somebody explain to me what a BBO model is. I have seen it in all different shapes and styles

  4. don

    Dec 30, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    Why do the comments keep disappearing?

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Dec 30, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      The comments removed from this story were either personal attacks or purposely inflammatory posts that are not allowed by our rules and terms: http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/?app=forums&module=extras&section=boardrules

      • Poppa

        Dec 30, 2015 at 11:46 pm

        It’s against the rules to say that you should bring straight cash for a better deal? Lmao

      • shimmy

        Dec 31, 2015 at 12:55 am

        Do consumers not need to be made aware that Bettinardi Putters uses an illegitimate quote (about an inflammatory issue) from our first President to sell his headcovers? If Bettinardi is going to use ‘patriotism’ to sell goods then might they please be true patriots and use Washington’s words accurately? This is too important to let slide.

        • Unknown

          Dec 31, 2015 at 12:20 pm

          Agree with you. Just make putters Bob. We don’t need to hear how you feel about issues.

  5. John Goss

    Dec 29, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Scotty used to be the best and has been eclipsed by Bettinardi classic styles and quality. Play the bb32 now and have never putter better. Keep up the great work!!

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pga tour

K.J. Choi WITB 2018

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Equipment is accurate as of the 2018 Valero Texas Open (4/18/2018).

Driver: Ping G400 Max (9 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-6x

Driver: Ping G400 Max (9 degrees)
Shaft: Ozik Matrix MFS M5 60X

3 Wood: Ping G400 (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-7x

5 Wood: Ping G400 (17.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-8x

Hybrid: Ping G400 (22 degrees)
Shaft: Atlus Tour H8

Irons: Ping G400 (4-PW)
Shaft: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 Tour 120X

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (50-12SS, 54-12SS, 58-10)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Ping Sigma G Wolverine T
Grip: Ping Pistol

Putter: Ping PLF ZB3
Grip: Super Stroke KJ

Putter: Ping Sigma Vault Anser 2
Grip: Ping Pistol

WITB Notes: We spotted Choi testing a number of clubs at the Valero Texas Open. We will update this post when we have his 14-club setup confirmed. 

Related:

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Choi’s clubs. 

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Accessory Reviews

I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went

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Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.

Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.

It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.

The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.

But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.

Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.

“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”

“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.

On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.

The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.

We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.

Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)

Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.

Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.

But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.

Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.

Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.

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Equipment

Titleist AVX golf balls passed the test, are now available across the United States

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Titleist’s AVX golf balls first came to retail as an experiment in three markets — Arizona, California and Florida — from October 2017 to January 2018. AVX (which stands for “Alternative to the V and X”) are three-piece golf balls made with urethane covers, and they’re made with a softer feel for more distance than the Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls.

After proving their worth to consumers, Titleist’s AVX golf balls are now available across the U.S. as of April 23, and they will sell for 47.99 per dozen (the same as Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls) in both white and optic yellow.

According to Michael Mahoney, the Vice President of Golf Ball Marketing for Titleist, the AVX is a member of the Pro V1 family. Here’s a basic understanding of the lineup:

  • AVX: Softest, lowest trajectory, lowest spinning, less greenside spin and longest
  • Pro V1x: Firmer than the Pro V1, highest spinning and highest trajectory
  • Pro V1: Sits between the V1x and the AVX in terms of feel, spin and trajectory, and will appeal to most golfers

Different from the Pro V1 or Pro V1x, the AVX golf balls have a new GRN41 thermoset cast urethane cover to help the golf balls achieve the softer feel. Also, they have high speed, low compression cores, a new high-flex casing layer, and a new dimple design/pattern.

For in-depth tech info on the new AVX golf balls, how they performed in the test markets, and who should play the AVX golf balls, listen to our podcast below with Michael Mahoney, or click here to listen on iTunes.

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the AVX golf balls

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