Thursday, March 15, 2007
Equipment: Heavy Putter reps have putters, will travel in 2007
By Jennifer Gardner
GPA Equipment Editor
At many large golf retail stores and pro shops, the putters for sale are displayed around an indoor putting green. If you're looking for a putter, you try a few different models that catch your eye and take a few half-hearted putts on a flat Astroturf surface.
Heavy Putter CEO Stephen Boccieri wants to help golfers get a better handle on what they need from a putter. If it happens to be a Heavy Putter, then all the better.
That is the reasoning behind the company's new PuttLab Tour '07, where five company representatives will travel to more than 500 golf stores in 40 states to introduce retailers and consumers to the Heavy Putter. Reps will use an ultrasound machine called the Science in Motion (SAM) machine to show golfers where the inconsistencies in their putting strokes lie.
"It shows you everything you ever wanted to know -- and what you didn't want to know -- about your putting stroke," Boccieri said.
The Heavy Putter works on the principle that increased mass in the head keeps a golfer from using their smaller wrist muscles, which break down easily, and encourages the use of larger shoulder muscles in the upper body. A stroke using these larger muscles moves more like a pendulum and is more consistent. Feel is actually increased as well because the added mass dampens vibration at impact.
But simply having a heavy putter head isn't enough to keep the wrists from breaking down. Heavy Putters balance the 450- to 550-gram head weight with a 250-gram insert in the upper shaft, which puts the club's balance point 75 percent higher for better control.
"The pros develop skills to keep a conventional putter on path but higher handicappers don't have the time to work on that," Boccieri said. "The increased mass gives consistency in the stroke."
Even though the company has run a successful informercial campaign on the Golf Channel, advertised in golf publications and gained an endorsement from 2006 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Troy Matteson, Boccieri believes that golfers need to feel the technology for themselves and see the difference between Heavy Putter and their own flat sticks.
"Consumers love to be sold. My wife is a vice president at Estee Lauder and that's how they built up that company. 'Do you want to feel beautiful? This face cream will work for you.'
In the golf industry, no one is selling putters like that. People like to be told that this is what's right for you."
As opposed to a demo day environment, where golfers can make a few putts with several models of a company's putters, PuttLab will help golfers learn more about their putting strokes.
"We say, bring in your putter and compare it. You make the decision about whether your stroke improves or not. You see the outcome of what's done with the SAM ultrasound machine," Boccieri said.
While Heavy Putter reps will work with consumers, they also want to make sure that retailers understand the technology and can help golfers once the ultrasound machine has gone on to the next stop.
"If you're looking for a new driver, you might go in and work with a salesman, use a launch monitor," Boccieri said. "But you can go onto any store's putting green, look and never see a salesman on the putting green. It's the one place you can go and not be hounded by a salesman. Now (after learning about Heavy Putter) he can go out there and say to the customer, 'Hey, there are a few things out there you may not have tried.'"
So far, the concept has met with success. At GolfFest in San Diego last week, the Heavy Putter ranked third in total dollars sold -- behind TaylorMade and Titleist, which also sell drivers, irons and golf balls. Heavy Putter only sells putters.
In Scottsdale recently, Heavy Putter reps sold more than 22 putters in one day to interested golfers.
"A retailer in one month doesn't sell 22 putters of any one brand," Boccieri said. "That answers the question as to whether the PuttLab actually works."