Today we begin our coverage of the PGA Expo in Las Vegas, the West Coast cousin to the PGA Merchandise Show in Florida.
We kick things off with Kronos Golf, who, ironically enough, were there not as exhibitors, but as spectators. We wouldn’t have even known they were there, but for a chance encounter on Demo Night at the Callaway Golf Center on South Las Vegas Boulevard. PutterZone.com editor Sean Weir takes the story from there:
“So there I am trying to cool off after slicing a few balls on the range, and I bump into Mike Buchfuhrer, one of the founders of Kronos Golf. He seems to recognize the name ‘PutterZone’ on my badge, and we start talking. He is soon joined by his co-founder, Phillip Lapuz. They are young guys (ages 26 and 27), and it they’ve started a putter company under the Kronos banner. Who knew? I sure didn’t.
So we get to talking. I learn that they aren’t exhibiting at the show, but I ask if they brought any products with them, and they say, ‘Yeah, we’ve got some putters in our car.’ My next question is obvious, and they oblige. So off we go, out to the parking lot. They pop the trunk of their car and…Wow!
Based on what I see, I’m ready to declare Kronos Golf ‘the best putter company you’ve never heard of.’ Trust me, these guys are up-and-comers.
At first glance, you might say that Kronos Golf is just another new putter company specializing in high-end, traditionally styled milled putters that are priced in the $300 range. But after a closer look, and after listening to their story, it’s clear to me that Kronos Golf is more than that. They have a unique point of view. They are trying to push the envelope when it comes to one-piece precision milling, and to raise the bar along the way.
In some ways, Kronos Golf is a paradox. They aim for “Swiss watch precision” in their carbon steel putter heads, but leave some of the final raw milling marks as a signature celebration of the milling process. The designs are classic, but almost rebellious in their minimalism. And if you ask them about the thick topline on their blade putter, or the distinctive shaping of the sole of their putters, or the unique sightlines on their mallet, you get a detailed answer. Nothing seems overlooked, everything seems purposeful. Afterthoughts? There are none.
Mike and Phillip start pulling Kronos putter covers out of their trunk. Then they pull out a piece of leather that they use to make their head covers (pictured here). Then they pull out some milling tools (also pictured here). They show me how the sightline on the flange of the blade is off center for a reason: it’s perfectly aligned with the sweet spot, or center of gravity (pictured here in the stock photo of the balanced head). Then they show me a prototype putter with a really cool feature that I can’t talk about, because they swore me to secrecy. They delve into all sorts of details about the milling process, and into everything they do to ensure the utmost quality and integrity in their putter heads. In their words: ‘We will never deform or adulterate our metal by welding, casting, or stamping.’
It’s all there in the trunk of this car, the ingredients of a brand-new putter company. Here are two young entrepreneurs from Southern California, one raised in the epicenter of the putting milling industry of north San Diego County, the other with family connections in the fashion industry (hence the awesome leather putter covers), combining their ideas and knowhow, and diving head first into the highly competitive waters of the milled putter world with the goal of making a difference.
It’s hard not to be inspired by stories like this. In fact, it’s stories like this that inspired me to start PutterZone.com in the first place. Unlike any other club in the bag, the putter is the province of dreamers, artists and entrepreneurs. I am reminded of this once again as I stand under the hot desert sun, peering into the trunk this car. This is probably the first time you’ve heard of Kronos putters, but I can assure you it won’t be the last.”
Stay tuned in the days ahead for our picks for the best products from the PGA Expo, featuring everything from swing trainers to exercise equipment to new putters. These products are all made by entrepreneurs, folks who built their own businesses by themselves, not because of red tape, but in spite of it. We met one inventor who spent eight years refining and testing his product before bringing it to the market. We met a woman who created a magnificent training aid from scratch, turning a mere idea into a retail product, which is no small feat. We encountered up-and-comers in the putter world, burning rubber on interstate, their initial creations stowed in the trunk of their car. This is the spirit of golf, and it is alive and well.