The progressive putter designer’s latest.
In 1999, Robert Bettinardi decided to go it alone. For seven years he had milled putters for the finest designers in the business—Tad Moore (who designed putters for Maxfli), Ken Giannini (Ben Hogan Company, Cleveland, and Mizuno) and Scotty Cameron (Mizuno, Titleist)—and he believed the time was right to hang out his own shingle.
Japanese star Shigeki Maruyama justified the decision when he won a couple of tournaments in Japan using one of the Chicagoan’s first eponymous designs. Then Jesper Parnevik used a Bettinardi to win the ‘99 Greater Greensboro Open with a score of 23-under 265, stroking just 99 putts on 72 holes. Cameras closed in on the back of the Swede’s putter a dozen times or more, so on Monday morning Bettinardi’s phone never let up for a moment.
A graduate of the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Bettinardi’s career as a metallurgist grew rapidly when he began using two Computer Numerical Code (CNC) machines to create perfectly milled products for the defense, food, and medical industries. Given an opportunity to mill a putter for Giannini, he took over three months to get it right, but when he did he quickly gained confidence and was soon making a name for himself in the industry, getting a call in 1992 from Cameron who had been impressed with the samples of Bettinardi’s work that had crossed his desk.
Bettinardi putters are now played, most notably, by Matt Kuchar and Brian Gay, and have notched more than 70 wins on the world’s professional tours. Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Fred Couples, Luke Donald, and Jim Furyk have all won with a putter made by Bettinardi, who formed collaborations with the Ben Hogan Company from 2003 to 2005, and Mizuno from 2006 to 2009. Since then, the company has worked independently out of its 40,000sqft facility in Tinley Park, IL.
At the end of 2014, Bettinardi announced it would be launching ten new models in 2015 across its six putter lines, as well as an elegant wedge called the H2, which stands for High Helix and is named after the machine that cuts the grooves in the face of each club. The two wedge models—the Cashmere and Satin Nickel—were 15 years in the making and, like the company’s putters, are priced ($195) to reflect the quality of design and production.
Of the new putters, the Inovai (pictured in this article) is certainly among the more remarkable. Fly-milled with a F.I.T. face (Feel-Impact Technology) which gives an incredibly soft and responsive feel, the Inovai’s head has two distinctive parts—a 6061 aluminum (an aluminum alloy containing both magnesium and silicon) face and body, and stainless steel backweight that puts half the total weight of the putter well behind the face and shaft, increasing the club’s forgiveness.
“I’m really proud of the Inovai because it represents a lot of effort and hard work,” says Bettinardi. “It’s going to be a game-changer for a lot of players. With the Inovai, I believe Tour players and those out for fun with their friends are going to have the confidence to make that crucial putt.
Available in right and left hand, five lengths from 33 to 35 inches, and with either a standard or midsize grip. $300
A counterbalanced model (extra weight in the grip end to increase the putter’s Moment of Inertia and increase stability) is also available for $350. bettinardi.com