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Insider Interview: Matt Molloy – Rife Putters

On April 9, 2007, Matt Molloy was officially promoted to the position of president of Rife Putters. Matt now oversees all of the company’s day-to-day operations, as well as the overall future direction of Rife Putters. Matt was the company’s chief operations officer prior to being named president. Said Rife Putters CEO Jim Barfield: “Matt has done an exceptional job right from the start developing our overall initial business model and producing our highly successful infomercial. He has made some very tough directional decisions along the way that continue to better position Rife Putters for a successful future. Matt truly has been the de facto president of Rife Putters for quite some time now, but he’s never cared much about his title, only the success of this company.” Rife Putters is most known for its distinctive “Two Bar” putter designs and Horizontal RollGroove putter face technology, which claims to offer the “truest ‘no skid’ roll in golf.” The company also recently launched its more traditional Island Series putters to considerable acclaim (pictured here is the Barbados model). Matt was kind enough to take time out of a busy travel schedule to answer questions about the direction of Rife Putters, as well as the new Island Series putters. Following is the transcript of our exclusive interview:

Upon being named president of Rife Putters, one of your stated goals was to “help Rife Putters evolve from a successful infomercial based company to a mainstream retail putter brand.” Can you elaborate on this point?
Infomercials have gotten a tough rap over the years as a lot of bad products have been peddled and a lot of false claims have been made via this medium. We believe our product and our infomercial was an exception but retailers and consumers are often wary of companies that experience some initial success via an infomercial because many of these companies often have trouble following up their initial success with a product of equal or better quality. We have made a firm commitment to proving to both groups that Rife’s Two Bar Putter is far more than a “one hit wonder”. With the success of the Aussie and Mr. Beasley putters in 2006 both on tour and at retail, and now the overwhelming response to the 2007 Island Series, we are certain that we are on the right track. We also have several other great products that we’re developing, including a remodeled 2008 Two Bar model, that we’re certain will raise a lot of eyebrows.

Many golfers are familiar with the name Guerin Rife, yet the company is now simply known as Rife Putters. Can you clarify the relationship between these names, and where they both stand in terms of your current brand identity?
As you probably know, our designer’s name is Guerin Rife. At the end of 2005, we decided that we really needed to simplify the company’s name, as getting people to correctly pronounce the name “Guerin” was proving to be a challenge. Just look at the footage from the NBC Today show on our website. We thought it was best to simplify things from a branding standpoint, so when good things started to happen for the company it wouldn’t be overshadowed by people mispronouncing the name. Our company firmly stands behind Guerin Rife as an amazingly talented designer and a true innovator in the golf industry, but, from a brand awareness standpoint, Rife Putters was simply a much cleaner approach. Not to mention that “Rife” fits much easier at the bottom of a grip and in the cavity of putter than “Guerin Rife” does.

Your new Island Series putters, particularly the Barbados model, have created some serious buzz. What do you think is most remarkable about these putters? What sets them apart?
Quite frankly, the Barbados is just a great looking mallet. If you look closely at any one of our putter designs you will see a lot of subtle craftsmanship, specialized milling, and subtle weight configurations that have been lost on many other putters these days, unless you plan on spending $300 or more for a putter. Guerin continues to find ways to mesh breakthrough technology with aesthetically pleasing designs, which is a true art form. Not to mention the fact that we get them in the hands of consumers at a very reasonable price. There are several aspects to the Barbados that give it that little extra something that allows it to standout against the other run-of-the-mill cast products that sell at the same price. For example, the channels in the bottom of the putter…Very few designers would have thought to add that small feature, but he did it to get the exact weight he was looking for while achieving a very finished and distinct look. What has impressed me the most about Guerin’s masterful design ability is he always keeps the flow of a putter completely uninterrupted. Very rarely do you see hard edges unless he was trying to achieve something very specific to aid the optics of the putter.

The Island Series model names, such as Martinique and Barbados, are distinctive and appealing. Can you elaborate on how you came up with the concept of the Island Series, and what it signifies from a marketing and identity standpoint?
Originally, the Island Series as a whole was just something fun that we thought fit what our company was all about. Golf is a game of leisure and is usually accompanied by great scenery or surroundings, so we thought the Island Series names reflected that. Currently, we have several other Island Series putters in the pipeline.

Rife Putters is perhaps most known for its distinctive “Two Bar” technology, yet the new putters do not feature this technology. Will the Two Bar technology continue to play a role in your future?
Yes, as I mentioned earlier, we currently have a new 2008 Two Bar design already in production which should debut on the PGA Tour in early summer and we are very excited about where the Two Bar line is headed. There are a lot of directions we can go with this concept in the years to come, so the Two Bar technology, as well as some new technologies, will be around for quite sometime. We still want to have a full line of options, though, for the traditionalists, and we hope the continued expansion of the Island Series line will meet those needs.

Thank you, Matt. For more information, visit www.RifePutters.com.

About Sean Weir

Sean Weir is the founder and editor of PutterZone.com, and the author of Putter Perfection, the definitive guide to putter fitting. Profile: Google+

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