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Insider Interview: Chris Burns

As the director of marketing and lead product designer for Bob Burns Golf, Chris Burns inherited a strong passion for the game from his father Bob Burns, a master PGA professional and club designer. Bob Burns Golf is most famous for its acclaimed No Bananas Driver, but the company also offers a wide range of clubs and training accessories. Among the company’s latest releases is the Roll-In putter, a mallet that features moveable weighting technology and a suite of custom fitting options at the point of purchase. The Bob Burns Roll-In putter was recently named to PutterZone.com’s Power Picks for 2009 mallets. 

Following is PutterZone.com’s exclusive Insider Interview with Chris Burns:

What is the driving philosophy behind Bob Burns Golf?
At Bob Burns Golf, a large part of who we cater to is “Average Joe Golfer,” who makes up more than 80 percent of the golfing population. Up until the last two years, the golf industry has focused on making equipment for the low handicap golfer. So in a flooded market, Bob Burns Golf has always designed products for the forgotten product segment of “super game improvement” equipment that makes the game more enjoyable for most golfers. Part of our mission is making innovative golf equipment, so we also think outside the box. As you can see by our product lineup, there isn’t much ordinary about our Bob Burns Golf products. This is part of what sets up apart and it has been partially responsible for our international success. We also make a promise. All of our products include a 100-percent money back guarantee and lifetime warranty, as well as hundreds of custom fitting options

What did you set out to achieve with your Roll-In putter? What are the features and benefits?
One of the most difficult products to buy off the rack is the putter, although most believe it among the easiest. What we see so often is a golfer buying a putter because of positive feedback from friends or recommendations at the point of purchase, and after a couple rounds or practice sessions, the player adapts to the club—which is the opposite of what we preach as professionals. 

The problem is many golfers are unaware of the options available to them.  Most off-the-rack putters are available in one weight, one or two length options, one shaft and one grip. Anything beyond that comes of the consumer’s pocket. In addition, a length or grip change can lead towards a change in performance and feel. With the Roll-In putter, there are many options, all of which are available for no additional charge.

I must say that through thousands of golf lessons, club fitting and focus groups, one thing that always holds true is that it is increasingly difficult to appeal to all gofers. When it comes to wedges and putters every golfer has a preference. The Roll-In putter inspired us to design a product appeals to a variety of golfers with its ability to modify and fit. The seven adjustable weight portals allow the fitter to match the head weight to the length for swingweight purposes. Because feel is such an important aspect, the putter allows the golfer to manipulate the club to his or her particular swing style or path, common mis-hit pattern, and/or green speed. A weight kit is included, so as a golfer’s game changes, so can the putter. 

Golf Test USA, a golf equipment testing company, which is a non-biased third party, recently conducted a putter test of all the non-major manufacturers. The results were exactly what I had expected, but still unbelievable to most. In every category, the Roll-In putter ranked among the top five. The overall aggregate rating was number two.

What are the benefits of your proprietary oversize putting grip, and why do you offer different grip options at the point of sale?  
As I mentioned earlier, many golfers are unaware of the importance of custom fitting options. These options are important because no two people are alike. We are fitting the golfer by his or her build, swing style and preferences. 

Our proprietary oversize grip works with all grip and swing styles. The grip is both oversize and overweight. The grip is nearly four times the weight of an average putter grip. When installed, this moves the balance/pivot point of the golf club up towards the center of the shaft. In the hands of the golfer, he or she will feel the club swing more like a pendulum or metronome. This club is then both balanced and face balanced. The raised pivot point and oversize shape of the grip work in harmony by eliminating the hands from the equation, the shoulders take over and create a path, which is more conducive to the natural arc. 

In addition to what we call the “BFG” (Big Fat Grip), we also offer a standard wrap, standard pistol and paddle rubber grips in additional to all current Winn putter grips. Size, weight, shape, color and feel and important fitting options and are available at no additional charge.

What other putter fitting options do you offer, or do you have planned, for those who are unable to visit one of your locations but might want to buy online? 
All putter fitting options are equally important. Options include: lie, loft, head weight, length, shaft type, shaft weight, and grip type.

In early 2009, we will be debuting a putter fitting system to all major retailers. This system will allow the fitter to achieve the correctly fit final product through a brief questionnaire, and a quick checkpoint fitting analysis. This will give golfers the same thorough fitting experience as if they visited our facility. More information will be made available early 2009. 

An online fitting experience will also soon be available. An in-depth questionnaire will be made available and will allow us to achieve ideal specifications. Your other option is a free over-the phone-fitting process, which is quick and easy. Look for new Roll-In putter designs and training aids this spring, too.  

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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