We are gathered here today...
It was about a week ago when Bettinardi Golf announced that Matt Kuchar was now an official member of Team Bettinardi. This announcement did not really surprise many of us, as Matt has been gaming a Bettinardi putter for a while now. You can’t win a high profile tournament like the 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship without every golf gear head out there wondering, “What putter is in his bag?”
The answer to that question is “It’s a Bettinardi”.
If Matt is putting with a Bettinardi putter, why wouldn’t he be on staff with them? It’s a simple question, but sometimes in the golf equipment sponsorship realm, simple questions can have complex answers. There are quite a few tour professionals who "unofficially" roll putters from companies other than their sponsors. So why did Kuchar and Bettinardi make the partnership official?
Why the Partnership Makes Sense From Bettinardi’s End?
Bettinardi Gains Exposure
Here’s a crazy thought, there are golfers out there who don’t know anything about Robert Bettinardi and his putters. To a putter lover like myself, this seems impossible, but it’s true. I’ve made it no secret that I think that the Bettinardi shop makes some of the finest putters ever milled. The precision and innovation found in Bettinardi putters are largely unrivaled in the industry. But again, only those in the know, know this. This is not the recipe for a successful sales-based business. It’s great that the putter aficionados love your stuff, but at the end of the day, putters need to get sold.
Matt Kuchar rolling a Bettinardi putter brings international exposure to the Bettinardi brand. I would be willing to wager that more golfers recognize Matt Kuchar’s name than do Robert Bettinardi’s. This is not a slam on Bettinardi in any way. It’s just a matter of exposure. Matt Kuchar is on TV playing golf a lot, and the guy typically works weekends.
Think about your golfing mom, or the other golfers in your club. They may not know the Bettinardi name, but they’ll know Kuchar. It’s a Marketing 101 truism that attaching the name of a well-known celebrity to a product moves product. If it’s good enough for Matt Kuchar, then it must be good enough for me. Every time Matt drops another twenty-foot bomb, Bettinardi Golf gets a mini-commercial. This is why companies pay for endorsements. Again, it’s Golf Marketing 101.
Kuchar is a Good Guy
The other side of the equation for Bettinardi Golf is that this person endorsing their putter is Matt Kuchar. Along with an amazing golf game, Matt brings an aura of class and likability to the table. Seriously, have you ever heard someone say that they don’t like the guy? About the only thing that I have heard is that Matt’s smile will likely need to be removed surgically. This is a guy who would find your wallet, do his best to return it to you, and then refuse any reward other than thanks.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Matt has an off-camera dark side and frequently commits heinous atrocities. Can you see Matt Kuchar as Lex Luthor, leering while manically rubbing his hands together as his evil plot comes to fruition? Me neither, but I can definitely see him tearing off that sweet purple tie, uncovering a giant S on his chest. In taking Matt Kuchar into the Bettinardi Golf family, they get the game and the man. He will be an amazing brand ambassador.
Kuchar Putts Like Freak
Maybe that’s too harsh. How about "Matt Kuchar’s arm-lock putting style is unique in the PGA field today"? Is that more diplomatic? Bottom line is he is a great putter, but he doesn’t putt like most of us do. But that is an amazing boon for Bettinardi. When Matt is putting on TV, something that he does quite a bit, his unique putting style draws attention. I know that Mr. Faldo and Mr. Miller have mentioned Matt’s arm-lock putting style on multiple occasions.
Viewers pay attention to the unique, and to the excellent. Matt Kuchar’s putting is both. As we roll into post-anchoring ban putting, long putter people are going to look for other options. They will learn that the arm-lock style is still legal by watching Matt putt. It’s not a big leap for these viewers to then wonder what putter he is using. Hello Bettinardi Golf.
Why the Partnership Makes Sense From Kuchar’s End?
Matt Makes Money Money, Make Money Money Money
While I don’t have any fiscal details, I am fairly comfortable in the belief that Bettinardi Golf is giving Matt Kuchar something more than a new putter. Cash is involved, and probably more cash than many of us make is a year, or maybe even two years. I am all for players making money from endorsements. Golf is a big money business. Great players should cash big checks; they deserve it. For some reason though, I get the feeling that getting paid was low on the priority list for Mr. Kuchar.
I would bet that Matt’s approach to equipment deals is a lot like Rocco Mediate’s. In a recent interview on Feherty, Rocco said that he only sought out equipment deals when he wanted to play the equipment. A rough paraphrase of one of Rocco's quotes was that the right equipment could help him make plenty of money from winning golf tournaments. In other words, equipment drives endorsement. Rocco plays the gear that works, not the gear that pays him the most. It’s pure speculation on my part, but I bet that Matt approaches his equipment and sponsorships in the same fashion. I am sure that he gets a nice check from Bridgestone to play their gear, but you know that many of the other companies would shower him in cash to come to play their equipment. Yet he stays with the gear that is working for him on the course. Bettinardi has the ability to produce a putter for Matt that is exactly what he wants to play. Performance over pay scale.
Bettinardi is a Good Guy
If Matt Kuchar epitomizes class on the golf course, then Bob Bettinardi is his mirror in the putter business. I have never met Bob Bettinardi, or Matt Kuchar for that matter, but my gut feeling is that they are two men cut from the same cloth. I see them as men of integrity and honesty. I see them both as dedicated professionals, constantly striving to improve and succeed. Maybe this perception is wrong. Maybe Robert Bettinardi is an egotistical tyrant who shreds underlings like ingots in a mill. I doubt that though. Again, I have never worked with Robert Bettinardi directly, but I have had interactions with other people at Bettinardi Golf, like Robert’s son Sam Bettinardi. To a person, they are pure class. Their operation is solid, professional, and yet personable. Exactly how I would describe Matt Kuchar.
Get On to the Putters!
Many of you dessert-first readers immediately scrolled down to this part of the article. Blah blah blah, Dave loves Kuchar and Bettinardi, blah blah blah. Show me the metal! Well here you go. Without further ado, I give you the Bettinardi Matt Kuchar Signature Model Putters.
Bettinardi Matt Kuchar Signature Putter Specifications
- Models: 2 (#1: wide-flange blade, #2: round mallet)
- Material: Milled Carbon Steel
- Finish: Pewter PVD
- Length: 42” arm-lock, 35” standard
- Weight: 400g arm-lock, 350g standard length
- Loft: 7° arm lock, 3° standard
- Lie: 71°
- Toe Hang: Face-Balanced
- Grip: Gray Lamkin (19” on arm-lock models!)
- Headcover: Kuchar Signature White/Blue
Bettinardi Matt Kuchar Signature Model 1
Bettinardi Matt Kuchar Signature Model 2
The looks in a word, are awesome. The finish is rich, yet non-reflective. Pewter PVD basically means matte silver, but there are some sneaky rainbow hues in there as well. The blue paint pops and adding Kuchar’s signature to the bottom is a cool aesthetic touch. The gray Lamkin grips are a great color of gray, truly complemented by the blue fill. One of the local shop pro’s commented that he wants a Ferrari done in the same color scheme. While the correlation between Bettinardi Golf and Ferrari was totally a subconscious impulse, I think that speaks volumes about the looks of the Kuchar Signature putters.
The F.I.T. (Feel Impact Technology) face milled into soft carbon steel is a recipe for softness. The Bettinardi Matt Kuchar Signature putters are definitely down at the soft side of the scale. You stainless rollers could actually perceive this as too soft, but members of camp carbon will welcome this impact big time. Personally, I found the face to be soft, yet responsive. Should you ever miss the center (who does that?), you will also get a nice bit of feedback about your need for putting lessons.
Let me be the first to say that the most brilliant stroke in making these putters is that Bettinardi Golf decided to make them in arm-lock and standard configurations. Kuchar is an arm-lock assassin. He’s got one big win on tour this year with the arm-lock #1, and I will not be shocked when he gets another. That being said, arm-lock putting may not be the answer for everyone.
For me, arm-lock putting is a lot like giving birth; I am fairly certain that I am physically incapable of either. I know, that’s an awful visual, but what I’m getting at is that if they only produced arm-lock versions, all of the non-arm-lock putting folk would have been out of luck. Maybe you can putt like Kuchar, with the arm-lock style transforming you to a cup-killing machine. If not, here is a 350g standard version. Inclusively brilliant. And should the arm-lock putter be accepted by the masses as the replacement for the anchored long putter, Kuchar's association puts Bettinardi Golf in the perfect position to reap the rewards.
Is there anyone who objects to this union?
In writing this, I feel a bit like I am giving a toast at a wedding rather than writing about a golfer that has a new putter company deal. But that’s how it feels to me. This is a multi-year partnership where both partners bring something special to the union, ultimately becoming stronger in combination than they were independently. Maybe the fact that my 18th anniversary is this month has skewed my perspective. Who knows? Regardless, that’s the vibe I get from the Kuchar/Bettinardi partnership. I think that many of us admire both of the parties involved and would have no problem raising a glass and wishing them prosperity in the days any years to come. ‘Clink’
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