In December Bettinardi Golf appointed Golf Devices as the new UK distributor for the Bettinardi putter range. Paul McGovern of Golf Devices told Glyn Pritchard why the Bettinardi brand and custom fitting are a profitable opportunity for retailers.
Would you pay £239 for a putter or even £375? What’s more would your customers pay that sort of money? Paul McGovern of Golf Devices believes that golfers are willing to. The key factor says McGovern is custom fitting. “Before we took over as distributors you could only order Bettinardi putters online. We are appointing UK retailers that can custom fit the Bettinardi putters, because if you’re buying a premium product, the benefit is in having it fitted to your particular stroke”, says McGovern.
Bettinardi Golf was established in 1991 by Robert Bettinardi who used CNC (Computer Numerical Control) precision milling to manufacture a ‘One Piece Milled’ putter head, a term the company has since trademarked. Bettinardi originally produced putters on an OEM basis for other brands, but in 1999 he took some of his designs to the PGA Tour Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic event. Jesper Parnevik decided to try one of Bettinardi’s putters and won with a tournament record of 23 under par. Since then Bettinardi putters have recorded wins on more than 70 other tour events.
“You’ve got to feel the ball come off the face to really appreciate the difference, so trying to sell via the website wasn’t viable”, says McGovern. “This is a signature-brand prestige product manufactured by 75 of the finest engineers and technicians at a state-of-the-art facility near Chicago. Other signature-brands on the market are actually part of sports conglomerates that manufacture castings in China. Bettinardi Golf is an independent company still under Robert’s control and it manufactures milled quality putters in limited numbers.”
McGovern is now looking for the right type of retail outlets. “We want retail partners that are looking for something exceptional to offer customers. All the stock we order is supplied with uncut shafts so that the putter can be exactly fitted to the player’s requirements. The detail and finish on the Bettinardi putters is outstanding and will be appreciated by the discerning customer that wants to play with prestigious equipment of the highest craftsmanship and quality.”
The ability to fit Bettinardi putters has led to the development of a new centre-shafted ‘Arm Lock’ putter with zero offset and seven degrees of loft. The putter has been designed by Bettinardi with input from Matt Kuchar, who is a Bettinardi tour staff player. Kuchar currently leads the PGA Tour on the average one-putt percentage, with a record of 45.3 percent per round.
At six feet, four inches tall, Kuchar needs more than an off-the-shelf putter. Bettinardi has developed the arm-lock putting technique with its Kuchar series of putters in response to the body anchoring ban which comes into effect next year. While long, anchored putters were never as popular with amateurs in the UK as in the States, the arm-lock technique will certainly help any player experiencing difficulty in replicating a smooth stroke on the greens. The technique is best used when, for right-handers like Matt Kuchar, the butt-end of the grip is placed two inches below the left forearm, and the right wrist is hinged into the grip of the club. This results in a stable stroke, avoiding the wrists and hands getting too involved on shorter putts.
“The Kuchar Arm Lock models and the arm-lock technique have been accepted as legal, so they provide an excellent choice for any player experiencing nerves or even the yips on the green”, McGovern confirms.
In addition to the Kuchar models, Bettinardi has four other ranges in its product line-up (see panel). The top of the line Signature models cost £375 and are milled to order from 303 stainless steel. “There are no inserts, but the Honeycomb pattern milled into the face has been engineered to give clear and distinct feedback at impact. It’s a marvellous piece of equipment to handle and own. It’s fitted with a red leather grip and is supplied with a Signature red head-cover. Only about 1,000 are made each year.”
McGovern says Golf Devices will support retail partners with training for fitting Bettinardi putters. “We have an expert fitter that can assist. There is also an extensive fitting guide produced by Bettinardi’s Studio B fitting centre in the States.” Asked to sum up the Bettinardi retail proposition, McGovern says, “This is a premium product commanding a premium price with excellent margins. The custom fitting aspect and the nature of the product means that it’s not going to be subject to discounting wars. We are focusing on green grass outlets where customers want the very best – once one member shows this off in the bar, ten more will want one.”
For more information on the Bettinardi range call 08000 949016 or visit www.bettinardi.co.uk