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Insider Interview: SeeMore’s Jim Grundberg

With the Masters just around the corner, now is the perfect time to catch up with the putter company that helped fit Zach Johnson with the green jacket in 2007. This time last year, the SeeMore Putter Company had only recently re-launched itself under the new ownership team of Jim Grundberg and Jason Pouliot (both pictured here, with Jim at right). The company was famous for making the putter that Payne Stewart used in his epic putting performance to win the 1999 U.S. Open, but had subsequently fallen on hard times. Grundberg and Pouilot, however, proved they were up to the challenge of saving the venerable SeeMore brand, launching their new mSeries milled putters in early 2007 to widespread acclaim (PutterZone.com called the m1 putter a “masterwork” in an earlier review). Then, when Zach Johnson won the Masters using an original SeeMore FGP putter, the rebirth of SeeMore was sealed. PutterZone.com recently caught up with Jim Grundberg to discuss last year’s exciting developments, as well as what’s next from SeeMore Putter Company. Following is our exclusive interview:

What sets SeeMore putters apart—and how does the average golfer benefit from using a SeeMore putter?
Our patented RifleScope Technology (RST) alignment system works to help the average golfer gain confidence and consistency with their putting stroke. SeeMore putters are very unique in that they offer the average golfer a built in system for game improvement.

This patented RST, known by a visible gun sight on the top line, allows the golfer to set up the putter perfectly each and every time in relation to the intended target line, by framing the black bottom part of the shaft between two white lines and covering the red dot. If the golfer is seeing red at any time during setup or the stroke, then there is something that needs to be fixed. When the RST is locked on, the golfer is able to focus solely on the speed of the putt, knowing that he is square to his intended target line.

For most golfers, and at all levels, putting is much more art than science. They are constantly seeking that magic putter, one which feels right and looks right, one which will give them confidence. Yet even when they find one they love, the feeling rarely lasts for long. Then they are onto a new search. That tends not to be the case with golfers who use SeeMore putters. When things start to get a little off track, the SeeMore RST provides important feedback to the golfer that will help him or her self-correct. It’s like having a putting instructor with you.

Can you briefly describe the state of the SeeMore Putter Company when you acquired it in 2006?
The SeeMore brand had been basically inactive in the market for the past five years. At the time we acquired SeeMore in 2006, it was nearly impossible to find a SeeMore putter in the golf shops. Golf professionals no longer knew where to find a SeeMore putter and wondered what had ever happened to the brand. Yet many avid golfers still used their trusty old SeeMore putters and swore by its benefits. In fact this period of being essentially off the market was a blessing in disguise for us as we set out to re-launch the brand. It meant that the prior owners had done a fantastic job of not sacrificing the brand in any way for any type of short-term gain. And they never gave up hope. They had waited for the right time to re-launch the brand, and decided it was better to do nothing rather than to bring the brand back to market under the wrong circumstances.

When we first met the prior ownership groups, they decided that Jason and I had the commitment, the resources, the passion, and the long-term plan that would be right for the brand that they had all so carefully built.

In our due diligence we could not find anyone that had anything bad to say about SeeMore. Most told us that the company had always had a core group of raving fans that loved the simple alignment technology. These SeeMore loyalists wanted this brand back and they wanted the company to adapt the proven RST alignment system to more models with an improved look and feel. Our best customers were already laying out the plan for what was becoming obvious that we needed to do.

What ultimately drove your new vision for SeeMore?
Based upon the feedback we received from golfers who had loved SeeMore for years, we added a new high-end milled line called mSeries (m1 model pictured here). Simply stated, our goal was to marry up the finest game improvement technology in the world in RST with the most expensive and precise materials in the world for the ultimate in precision putting performance. The unique, jewel like designs of each putter in the line would offer the ultimate in pride of ownership as well.

However we also wanted to continue to support our loyal customers and new RST converts with a more affordable option, so we kept our most important original model in the line and in fact plan to expand that offering later in 2008. So what drove our vision was to offer the best of both worlds. At the top would be the new and improved 100% milled mSeries at $325, which we consider the best of the best. But also we would keep the original cast FGP in the line at $150. It gives the customers a clear choice. The functional technology works in both models. The mSeries simply takes it to a new level of excellence. All of our putters are made in the USA, which is something we are very proud of.

We were delighted to learn last month that our blade and mallet mSeries putters were featured by Golf Digest in their exclusive 2008 Hot List, which is another great validation of the mSeries putters which PutterZone.com first featured last year!

People should know that the 2007 Masters win didn’t make the new SeeMore. Your new plan, vision and products were already in place when that happened. That said, the visibility couldn’t have hurt. Can you describe that Sunday night and the days following, in terms of how it impacted SeeMore?
The Masters victory in 2007 was obviously a catalyst for the re-launch of the brand. Jason and I were first and foremost golf fans that day, watching the Masters telecast from start to finish with our friends and families and enjoying every riveting second of the drama that was unfolding. We were on the phones all afternoon with our club designer Andre Shmoldas, as well as our international partners and our team here in Tennessee.

When Zach continued pouring them in on the back nine, it started to hit us that this dream might really be happening. By the last hole we were receiving hundreds of phone calls and text messages from friends in the industry who knew how special the exposure was going to be for us. Our public relations director Kevin Donnellon and I were on the phone until well after midnight polishing and executing our communications strategy. Our phones started ringing the day after and haven’t stopped since. It has completely energized our employees and our partners around the world to believe that they are part of something very special.

You are rolling out some new models and a new shaft for 2008. What do these add to the existing SeeMore experience?
We launched the mSeries with what we are calling the whistle shaft in 2008, based upon strong input from the tours and from our partner golf professionals at the club level. The Whistle line involves a new shaft with a simple bend that maintains the alignment and performance integrity of the SeeMore putting system while favoring a slight hands-forward at address position.

The original straight shaft versions of the mSeries putters, as well as the original FGP putters, are designed to have a golfer place his hands in line with the eyes and with the putter head. Golfers now have many choices with the new SeeMore line in terms of head shape as well as hand position. Many golfers told us they loved the idea of our system but have always putted with their hands slightly forward and felt more comfortable that way. We have designed the offset whistle shaft line for these players.

As a result of the Whistle design, golfers will still enjoy the multiple proprietary benefits of RST: the guarantee that the hands will be in the same place each and every time, the confidence that the putter head will be perfectly square to the intended target line at address and at impact, and the ability to groove a perfect pendulum putting stroke.

Thank you, Jim! Stay tuned for PutterZone.com’s review of SeeMore’s mFGP model putter.

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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