Robert J Bettinardi's Masterful Vision of Precision and Performance
Disrupting the status quo of an industry requires brave innovators, original concepts and a little bit of luck. It was on a cold winter day in 1991 that Robert Bettinardi saw the future, a singular moment in time that would forever alter the course of golf history. There, hanging on the wall at local Chicago golf shop, was an advertisement for a putter milled on a Bridgeport machine – a contraption that Bettinardi knew was technologically inferior and decades behind his own state-of-the-art CNC machines.
Already specializing in milling highly sophisticated equipment for the Department of Defense, telecommunications, and medical industries at his own manufacturing facility, Bettinardi believed that he could produce a better product, a putter of superlative quality and precise detail, made right here in the USA. And he was right.
After months of perfecting prototypes on his CNC milling machines, Bettinardi, along with his team of elite engineers, crafted a putter out of a singular block of steel – a groundbreaking moment within the golf industry.
At the time, putter heads were made in multiple pieces where the hosel (neck) was welded to the body – a clumsy process that warped the integrity of the metal. Bettinardi’s new method, known as ONE PIECE TECHNOLOGY, eliminated human error and would forever change the way a putter was made.
1993 – 1998
In 1993, the Darryl Equipment Survey reported that out of 130 players on Tour, only 10 were using milled putters. Yet, by the end of 1998, more than 75 PGA Tour players were gaming milled putters. During this span, Robert Bettinardi was contracted to mill putters for original equipment manufacturers, with his creations capturing 49 wins on the PGA Tour, including 4 Major victories.
This paradigm shift in player performance solidified Bettinardi’s superior process as one of the most important contributions in the history of golf technology.
Once the USGA (United States Golf Association) officially approved the patented Honeycomb face milling technique, Bettinardi decided to concentrate on his own line of putters.
Such an innovative method demanded the use of a special jeweler-grade machine cutter that precisely machines the face of the putter at a perfect perpendicular angle. This unique milling process resulted in a 200% flatter face and eliminated the concave effect found on other manufacturer’s putters.
The independent Bettinardi Golf brand was officially born in 1999, commencing with six unique introductory models, including the BB1, BB1MS, BB2SS, BB8, BB10 and BB12. Bettinardi hit the PGA Tour circuit to spread the word with the first stop coming at the Greater Greensboro Open.
It was here that Jesper Parnevik picked up a BB10, going on to set a tournament scoring record that weekend of 265 (-23), highlighted by just 99 putts.
At the turn of the century, Bettinardi Golf added five new putter models to the line, including the BB-41 and BB-42, part of the highly acclaimed Millennium Series. Made from 303 double-aged stainless steel, these special putters featured weighted brass plugs in the face and brass ingots located on the flange, heel and toe. These works-of-art were the flagships of this expanded portfolio and some of Bettinardi’s finest work in his earlier years. In addition to the Millennium Series, the company introduced the BB-16, BB-19 and BB-11.
Bettinardi Golf continued to gain traction across the major global tours and by year’s end, the company notched an unprecedented 17 professional victories.
Ever pushing the limits of technical innovation, the company utilized its engineering prowess to prove that milling a wedge out of a solid block of stainless steel was possible. Utilizing and advanced 360 degree milling process with metal hand-selected for softer feel, Bettinardi machined the patented Honeycomb grooves to each face.
In addition to wedges, Bettinardi added the center-shafted BB43, part of the Millennium Series, along with the mallet-style BB23 and popular BB24 in a new patented Black Thunder finish.
During this time, Bettinardi Golf aligned with the famed Ben Hogan Golf Company and produced a series of Ben Hogan by Bettinardi putters. Additionally, a Bettinardi model known as the Baby Ben secured the company’s first Major victory in 2003 under its own banner at nearby Olympia Fields Country Club. The very next year, a 41-year-old from Fiji rattled off four Tour victories in a row including the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. This win marked Bettinardi’s second major title and first time the company’s product was used by the number one ranked player in the world.
Bettinardi Golf, ever obsessed with quality, craftsmanship and precision, partnered with Mizuno for a great four-year partnership. Over the course of this enterprise, Bettinardi produced the C-Series and Black Carbon Series line of putters. Simultaneously, Bettinardi perfected and patented the F.I.T. (Feel-Impact Technology) Face milling technique, a process that removed approximately 55% of the material from the face and resulted in a softer feel at impact.
After a successful alliance with the Mizuno Golf Company, Robert decided to branch off on his own, re-creating Bettinardi Golf as an independent golf brand. It was in 2010 he re-created the BB Series which featured 5 classic head styles in a black chrome finish. The following year, the Studio Stock and Signature Series of putters were created, adding new families and depth to the product line. In 2012, the Queen B lineup was born to provide golfers with heavier head styles in unique decorative finishes.
In 2013, Robert’s son, Sam, joined the company, adding a new dynamic to Robert’s brand, making Bettinardi Golf one of the few successful family run businesses in golf. Under this time period, Bettinardi expanded their product offerengs into wedges, designed and created the arm-lock putter technology in conjunction with Matt Kuchar, and won 19 professional events. Bettinardi products are now availalbe today in more than 40 countries around the world, and features a strong Tour Staff including Matt kuchar, Francesco Molinari, Hao Tong Li, Fred Couples, Ben Silverman and Jim Herman.