Behind the Scenes: Inside Bettinardi Golf
You probably can’t remember the last time you bought something that had the words “Made in the USA” stamped on it. It seems like everything now a days is either made in China or some third world country. In a lot of ways the golf industry is just a cog in the wheel of the global economy. Where golf clubs are researched and developed in the United States, and then manufactured overseas.
I recently made a visit to Bettinardi Golf, one of the few companies that makes its putters in the United States. Bettinardi Golf is named after its founder Bob Bettinardi, which is located in the southwest Chicago community of Tinley Park, making some of the nicest one piece milled putters. Watch this rare behind the scenes look at what goes into making Bettinardi putters and you’ll have a greater appreciation for what “Made in the USA” stands for.
About Bettinardi Golf
The 52 employee operation features 23 CNC milling centers on its 22,000 square foot shop floor, that produce one piece milled putters and custom belt buckles. Located in the same facility is the X-Cel Technologies which Bob opened not too long after graduating from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, which still manufactures parts for medical and defense industry. As an avid golfer, Bob was eager to design one piece milled putters. And in 1998 Bettinardi Golf is born, and like they say, the rest is history.
The Bettinardi Process
All putters at Bettinardi Golf start off as either some kind of an idea or sketch that Bob has for a new putter. At this point the sketch or concept is then entered into special software to render the putter in 3D. It typically takes about 30-45 days to go from design to production, with an additional week for machining on the shop floor to develop a prototype.
From this point the putter, depending on its complexity will go through an 8 step manufacturing process. The material of choice is 303 stainless steel, which comes in 12 foot bars that get chopped down to size. A forging blank that weighs 5 pounds then goes through a series of steps to create a finished head. It can take up to 6 CNC operations to go from forging blank to finish head weighing a ½ pound. The 3 ½ pounds of steel that is removed is then recycled.
Depending on the type of putter being made, it goes to art work and engraving where site lines and any custom engraving are added. At this point the putter is 95% completed. The final stage is when the paint fill is added and that is all done by hand, This process can employ anywhere from 1-5 people, depending on how busy the shop is. The last step of the process is assembling the putter.
As an ISO 9001 certified shop, every part they produce needs to be controlled via documentation and quality standards. Any part that is manufactured that doesn’t meet the quality control standards is automatically rejected and placed in red bins.
2011 Product Line
During my visit I got a chance to look at the 2011 product line that showcases the next step in the Bettinardi evolution.
The BB33 is classic face-balanced mallet putter with a custom double-bend shaft and patented Honeycomb face. The face of the BB33 is gorgeous in my opinion, because of the Honeycomb face which ensures the flattest surface possible.
Another putter in the 2011 product line which really stood out was the Studio Stock Series #8 putter. What makes this compact raised toe putter so unique is the Borealis Black finish, which gives it an iridescent glow to the putter. Simply stunning! Other features of the SS8 are the standard plumber’s neck and patented Tour F.I.T. face milling.
The Model Two Signature Series putter is a limited run of 1000 pieces for 2011. This putter gets its inspiration from one of Bettinardi PGA Tour Staffer’s and is milled from Double Aged Stainless Steel (D.A.S.S.). Featuring a plumber’s neck and Tour F.I.T. face this putter will appeal to any golfer who prefers a classic heel-toe weighted design. One look at the detail work on this putter and you’ll understand why Bettinardi made this a limited edition run and are highly sought after.
After my visit to Bettinardi Golf, I was blown away by the attention to detail and craftsmanship employed at Bettinardi in the manufacturing of their putters. I quickly realized that you’re are buying some of the best putters that money can buy and helping support U.S. manufacturing, which is becoming a rarity in this day and age.
Special thanks to Keith Webster and Bettinardi Golf for making this possible!