We first met the guys behind Kronos Golf at the PGA Expo, when they rolled into Las Vegas with a trunk full of putters, putter covers, milling tools and more.
Phillip Lapuz grew up in the epicenter of the putter industry—Carlsbad in northern San Diego County. Says Philip, “My backyard was and still is Callaway, Taylormade, and Titleist’s test and manufacturing facilities. My best friend’s dad ran a machine shop that has milled prototype putters for some of the biggest and smallest names in golf. It was there that I learned my craft under their guidance.”
Mike Buchfuhrer fell in love with golf while in law school. Says Michael, “My analytical studies were interesting, but my real passion was golf, particularly putting and putters. I’m fascinated with the masterful blending of art and science in a great putter. The design requires deep analytical thinking, artistic sensibility, and raw instinct. After reading all the texts, articles and other materials I could about the art and science involved, I delved into the epicenter of the clubmaking world in Carlsbad.”
Together, Mike and Phillip have established Kronos Golf as an up-and-comer in the putter world. Following is our exclusive interview:
What are the standout features and benefits of Kronos putters?
Phillip: Precision milling, design, and details. We want to redefine precision by milling to a new standard. We feel a milled putter should look like it just came out of the mill, not like it was just buffed and ground, a much less precise method. You can see sharp lines, swirls and other marks that are signatures left by the mill.
Mike: Design is key in putter-making. We’re not into gimmicks. We aim to make putters people will enjoy and fall in love with. We like thick top lines to put mass behind the ball for solid feel. The sharp edges showcase precision, and many feel they aid with alignment.
Phillip: Details are everything in a precision putter. We never weld, cast or stamp. Welding corrupts the integrity of a solid piece. Stamping deforms the metal. Using a hammer to restructure the surface of a precision instrument is not something we’re willing to do. We mill our engravings, including custom work.
You have said that you’re aiming for “Swiss watch” precision in your putters—what do you mean by that, and how are you delivering it?
Phillip: A Swiss watch is beautiful in its precision. Putters, like putting, blend art and science. We do the same with our putters. They must be beautiful, but they can never compromise performance. For instance, the mill marks are beautiful because you can see the precision that went into making the piece. Just as a watch may expose some of its inner-workings through a window in the face, our putter reveals the complexity and care that went into its crafting.
Mike: As an example, the sight line on each Kronos putter precisely indicates the the center of mass, unlike the vast majority of other putter-makers’ clubs. Misplaced sight lines have always bothered me. It’s like having a treasure map with the X in the wrong spot. It’s worse than not having it at all.
Like a fine watch, we make a point to make our designs timeless. The popularity of over-stamped garish putters is on the rise. A precision putter should not look like a kindergartner’s arts and crafts project. Like we said before, we won’t stamp our putters. Would you stamp a swiss watch? Even with our engravings, you won’t see smiley faces, dogs, rats, clowns, or crazy colors blemishing our pieces. They’re just another gimmick, distracting attention from the instrument and what the golfer is doing with it.
Most putter companies put a smooth polish on their putters. Why do you leave some of the rougher milling marks on Kronos putters?
Phillip: The truth is not all putters are created equally. Most putter companies mass produce their putters in a way that makes it nearly impossible for them to maintain strong defining edges and mill marks. The “rougher mill marks” are striking when compared to the standard high end over-polished putter. To a true putter-enthusiast or machinist the mill marks are a sign of beauty because they show no later working is needed. The putter is milled correctly from the start and doesn’t need reshaping on a grinding wheel.
Your headcovers are distinctive, can you tell us about how they are made?
Mike: Absolutely. When we first searched for head covers to protect our pieces we wanted the best. There were no manufacturers making a leather head cover to our liking. The solution: make them ourselves. I have family in the fashion industry and, with their help and advice, was able to make exactly what we wanted.
For the Touch cover, we start off with a Honey Old English leather. We brand by hand with a hot branding iron–and we have the
burns to prove it. For the sewing, we worked with a team that has decades of experience sewing for the fashion industry in Los Angeles. With a little guidance and their know-how we made what you see today. While it is a lot more work than ordering from a head cover manufacturer, we feel the results are worth it. Where else are you going to find a branded full grain leather headcover?
Can you elaborate on the “Kronos” name—what does it signify?
Mike: The name Kronos is a satire on modern clubmaking. In Greek mythology Kronos led the Titans and fathered the most powerful Greek gods. His reign was called the Golden Age because it was a purer era when men walked with gods. Similarly, early clubmakers focused on the clubs rather than flash-in-the-pan marketing gimmicks, hollow technology claims, and garish designs. Kronos signifies a movement back to the essence of the game, the pleasure of playing. We hope to deliver that through building precision clubs with timeless designs for people who want to enjoy the game.
What’s next from Kronos Golf?
Phillip: Every great artist must prove himself by painting the classics. We love the classics, and will continue to reinvent them. However, we also want to add to this landscape. We want to shake up the industry and contribute new beautiful designs. Currently, we are working on a new design that we hope will be considered a modern day classic. Look out for it at the PGA Show in Orlando in January 2013.