After seven years of dormancy, Slotline Golf is back in a big way with more than a dozen new putters introduced in recent months. So far, so good: The Slotline 385 blade recently earned top honors in PutterZone.com’s 2009 Power Picks for the Best Buy category.
Slotline was founded by Duke Duclos, an aerospace engineer whose “Inertial” putters popularized the concept of “moment of inertia,” or MOI. Duclos was also an early adopter of multi-material putter construction, and his signature “slot and line” alignment system has spawned several imitators. By the late 1980s, Slotine was a giant in the putter business, but the company later fell on hard times. In 2007, however, Slotline Golf was acquired by Dynamic Brands, which also owns Bag Boy and AMF Golf. Dynamic Brands quickly set the rebirth of Slotline into motion.
Chad Lehr, Slotline’s product manager, wields 20 years of experience in the golf industry. He started in golf retail after college and later worked in research and development for the Ben Hogan Company (where he worked with the future owners of Bag Boy). In 1996, he moved to Carlsbad—ground zero for the California golf industry—where he spent 10 years as a sales representative for Royal Precision, providing shafts to all of the top golf club companies. When his old friends acquired Slotline, they recruited him to take charge of updating some of the original Slotline models while creating new designs as well. PutterZone.com recently spoke with Chad to get the latest scoop on Slotline. Following is our exclusive interview:
Can you tell us about the rebirth of Slotline Golf—how did it come about?
The owners were looking for opportunities to acquire a strong brand with a technology story and Slotline came across their desk in late 2007. As you know, Slotline was the number two putter company in the late 1980s and had quite a following. In a rather short period of time, Slotline sold over one million Inertial putters and introduced MOI to the golfing public. Now, some 30 years later, MOI is the buzzword in the industry and people have a good understanding of its advantages in golf clubs. It was a wonderful opportunity to take a brand that at one point was a household name, dust it off and bring it back with updated original Inertial putters and also some new designs.
What are the advantages of Slotline putters for the average golfer?
The advantage of a Slotline putter for the average golfer is very similar to that of using a 460cc driver. Since most golfers miss the sweet spot of the putter on a regular basis, a high MOI Slotline putter will give them a better chance of making the putt or leaving their miss within tap-in range. When you miss the sweet spot with your driver now, you’re misses aren’t nearly as bad as they were a few years ago when we were playing with 320cc Ti drivers. And if you can improve your misses, you’ll improve your score.
You relaunched Slotline with three families of putters—the 300, 500 and 700 series. What distinguishes each series?
The differences between the three families of putters are materials and processes. The 300 Series putters are cast from 431 stainless-steel and each putter has 30 grams of tungsten located in the sole. The 500 Series is one-piece forged 6061 aircraft grade aluminum that spends 90 minutes on a CNC machine before it reaches final shape, and anywhere between 132 grams and 206 grams of our proprietary Tungsten blend is used to bring the head to final weight. The 700 Series starts as a solid 2.4 pound block of 6061 aircraft grade Aluminum and spends 2.5 hours on the CNC machine before reaching final shape. Then anywhere between 62 grams and 166 grams of Tungsten is inserted into the head to bring it to final weight. Also, the MOI readings differentiate the three series: the 500 Series has higher readings than the 300 Series and the 700 Series readings are higher than the 300 and 500.
Word is that there’s been a good response from the tours, the Champions Tour in particular. How do you go about introducing your putters to the world’s top players?
Our reps will be on the Champions Tour every week representing Slotline. Getting a putter in play is a process. We have a couple of Slotline staff bags filled with putters on the practice green every week and our reps are there to answer questions and work with the players. And hopefully when a player takes a putter, he puts it in play. As you know there are a lot of great products out there and everyone is after the same thing, so even though we may give a putter to a player, there isn’t a guarantee it will go in the bag for that week’s tournament. It may resurface a few weeks down the road, if not right away. We do have one advantage over other start-up putter companies, though, and that is the brand, Slotline. A lot of the players on the Champions Tour are very familiar with Slotline and many of them used a Slotline putter on Tour at some point. So we are confident that as the season goes along, we will be successful in getting our putters in the bags of some of the best players in the world.
You are working on three prototype putters that you hope to unveil on tour soon. Can you tell us about these putters, and will they eventually make it to retail?
There isn’t much I can tell you about the new putters other than they are multi-material construction—stainless steel, Aluminum and tungsten—and spend a lot of time on a CNC milling machine. I have had the opportunity to present the first prototypes to a retired former winner on the PGA Tour and a current major winner on the Champions Tour. Both gentlemen liked the look, loved the feel and raved about how the ball came off the face. It was hard to get the putter back when we were done. At some point they’ll make it to retail, but I have quite a bit of work and testing to do before that happens.
Thank you, Chad! Stay tuned for PutterZone.com’s upcoming Slotline mallet review, or click here for earlier Slotline reviews.