Golf Sports

Putting clubs in golfer’s hands

Companies face tough odds getting golfers to use products

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Patrick Broom, the president of Optic Golf, faces steep competition when trying to get players to switch to his putter.

Even from the Goodwill.

At the Valspar Championship on Tuesday, equipment reps that were looking to promote their putters completely lined the outside of one putting green, hoping to catch the eye of the pros in front of them.

 

Optic Golf's Z PUTTER on display Tuesday at the Valspar Championship.
Optic Golf’s Z PUTTER on display Tuesday at the Valspar Championship. Holly McNeill/Toronto Observer

Broom, who was pushing his new Z PUTTERS at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club understood how hard it can be to entice a golfer away from what he is used to.

“These pros will go to the Goodwill, they will go into the club bins, they will go to the clubhouse, rental clubs,” Broom said, “just to sift through and find that one putter that feels right and makes putts.”

At any given tournament there are only a handful of players who are even thinking about switching their putters, and the big name ones are usually out of the question because they have multi-year deals with equipment sponsors.

Broom said players do not have to pay for the putter.

“This is strictly gratuitous. Should a player be out there and want to play it on a weekly basis there’s what’s called spiff money, which in better terms is called tee-up money.

“And a spiff is like ‘What can you do for me, right?’, here’s a gratuity, here’s a club, if I’m going to have your club on the world’s broadest stage in golf what would you be willing to do for me?”

If you are a smaller company looking to get your foot in the door it can be a struggle with the amount of money that is being thrown at the players to use a given kind of putter.

“A lot of these players are on a weekly contract, they get paid per event if they win an event” Broom said. “It’s called bonus points, or it’s called a number of different things, so you have incentives for players, they make a lot of money, a product out here on tour with the visibility should it make it on a television camera.”

The problem of players being paid to use specific equipment may seem like a hard trend to combat but it is nothing compared to older tour traditions.

“There was an old etiquette on the tours back in the fifties and sixties where if an older veteran would ask a young rookie ‘Could I try your putter?’, if they like that putter by etiquette standards the rookie would have to surrender it and offer it to the veterans,” Broom said.

“The veteran wasn’t interested in actually using the putter it was actually taking [away] the weapon or the threat of somebody beating him.”