Today is Part 1 of a 2-Part Series on Piretti Putters. In Part 1 we will be interviewing founder/designer Mike Johnson). Part 2 of the series will be a review of his newest model the Piretti CottonWood II.
Introducing Piretti Putters!
Did you know…you’re more likely to become an astronaut or the President of the United States then to become a famous putter designer. There have only been a few handfuls since the game started. Countless numbers have tried but failed to become an iconic figure like a Scotty Cameron, Bettinardi or a T.P. Mills. But nope that hasn’t stopped’em…thousands of garage tinkerer’s have given it a go at “Putter Fame”…many of which have lost their entire life savings (great article) trying to pursue.
Any number of things could have been a past designers downfall. Because…you see…there are a lot of variables that go into becoming a successful putter designer. First you have to be able to wear a lot of skilled hats. And first and foremost you have to understand the connection between the art and science that goes into developing a successful putter design. And if and only if you are able to have them come together in perfect harmony so that the technology is able to work with the design…then…VOIALA! Sounds easy huh? Well since the day someone picked up the first putter I guarantee you even he/she was searching for what makes a perfect putter…but unfortunately it is still a mystery no scientist has been able to discover.
Mike Johnson of Piretti Putters is working full-time on it. His putters have already become successful enough for him to make it his full-time job. Talk about a dream job huh? And I couldn’t be happier for anyone in the industry either…I have followed his career since he began hand making flatsticks…even if he wasn’t aware of it (the whole golf spy thing). And over the last couple years he has refined his skills to a level that can be compared with the biggest names in the game.
Piretti – On His Way To “Putter Fame”?
Right out of the gates when you see a Piretti putter it says class, tradition and craftsmanship. From the logo which is one of our favorites to the new finishes on his CottonWood II you can tell Mike Johnson has many of those variables we previously spoke about that are needed to obtain “Putter Fame”. These aren’t your typical mass produced $300 putters…Piretti Putters come with the blood, sweat and tears mixed in. And just like all other successful putter designers his putters not only feel great and roll great, but they’re beautiful as well.
Piretti Golf Interview:
We sat down with “Piretti Putter Designer” Mike Johnson and gave an inside look at what goes on over at Piretti Golf and what has made him a success.
Q. How did you come up with the logo and name? So many golf equipment companies take their name from a founder or individual.
We wanted to create a logo and brand name that would give us a vintage, legacy type of presence. Our goal is to provide equipment that has a classic look yet innovative features and styling. So far the feedback on our branding has been very positive, customers have been drawn to our color schemes, model names and logo.
Q. Are all your heads going to be heavier than most putters…or do you see a time where you might offer a lighter head?
We are getting ready to release 4 new models in the coming months that will be offered in headweights of 350, 360, 375, and 400 grams. We still believe that for most golfers an increased headweight will help them keep the putter online better and will improve their distance control. The heavier head will also help golfers smooth out their stroke and rely less on their wrists so they can utilize their shoulder muscles more extensively. This is consistent with what many putting instructors are currently teaching their students.
Q. What manufacturers, industry experts and pro golfers did you consult on your designs?
Studying and tinkering with other manufacturers’ work is really what inspired me to design putters. I felt other manufacturers had too much loft on their putters for today’s faster greens. We met with manufacturers to explore possibilities and test concepts. We also consulted with several professional and amateur golfers to design putters we felt would help golfers of all skill levels.
Q. There is much more then meets the eye with putter design…so can you tell me what is something that you have learned along the way that has made the biggest impact on your designs?
Keep it simple. Golf has been around a long time. I don’t think serious golfers are looking for the latest gimmick or gadgetry to improve their game. I’ve had the most success with simple yet innovative designs. I think golfers don’t want a lot of distraction – they want to focus on their game. I want to provide high quality putters made from the finest materials with an extreme attention to craftsmanship.
Q. Do you have a mentor that you use for designing?
I don’t really have one particular person that I go to for advice or direction. I try to come up with several designs and options so that I can gather feedback from a variety of sources. I feel strongly that it is best to get comments and viewpoints from a wide range of golfers so I can come up with the most compelling designs.
Q. So far you have stuck with pretty standard designs from the past…any plans to step outside the box and do something new?
I do have a few ideas that I am working on now that may or may not be released. When we have more of a presence on Tour we will release new and outside the box designs.
Q. Who is your favorite putter designer?
I’d have to say Karsten Solheim and Truett Mills. Their designs will be around for a very long time.
Q. Do you have any pictures of the first putters you made? Isn’t it crazy to look back at some of your old work and think to yourself man I thought I knew it all and I really didn’t know as much as I thought?
My first designs were done on a grinder in my garage. It took me around 20 hours to make my first handmade putter – grinding, shaping and milling in that hot, humid garage. It was an 8802 style putter made for a lefty. Not the easiest project, but it turned out better than planned.
Q. What has been your biggest break in making a name for yourself?
The Cottonwood II has really been big for us, but we have received a huge boost from sites like yours and others that have helped validate the quality of our product. The word of mouth and positive feedback from customers has also really helped move us forward.
Q. I feel that incorporating technology with artistry is what sets most successful putter companies apart from the rest of the pack. What in your opinion sets your putters and your company apart?
We have some proprietary testing sequences that we utilize for all of our designs. We believe that this enables us to create putters that will maximize the sweet spot and help with distance control. We mill less degrees of loft into the face of our putters which eliminates the skipping which sometimes occurs when the ball leaves the face of the putter. We also use a milling process which gives us the tightest tolerances possible. We feel that as a finished product our putters have an artisan feel to them.
Q. Do you have a favorite or most exciting moment in your career as a putter maker?
This year I had the opportunity to meet Tag Ridings from the Nationwide Tour at the Monday qualifier in Houston. He ended up qualifying for the Shell Houston Open and asked me to make a couple putters for him. I met up with him on Saturday after his round and gave him 2 putters to test. He ended up using one of them the next and last day of the Shell Houston Open and finished in the top 25. The next 3 weeks on the Nationwide Tour he used the Piretti Cottonwood and had 3 top ten finishes.
Q. What do you enjoy most about being a putter designer?
Probably the most rewarding aspect of designing putters is the feedback I get from satisfied customers. It really means a lot when a customer takes the time to send us a quick note to let us know how one of our putters has helped him or her improve their game.
Q. What do you have in store for the future at Piretti Golf?
We have 3 new models that will be released in the coming months. We are also working on a line of custom wedges. Golfers will be able to get fit for grind, bounce and lie with our new line of wedges.
For More Info: http://pirettigolf.com/
P.S. – Click Here For Part 2