We recently spent some time talking golf with putter guru David Whitlam… the man behind Whitlam Golf and Gauge Design. Today we're talking about David's plans for the North American market, high MOI putters and the possibilities of an expanded line of golf equipment…
You are poised to make a North American push. What can we expect to see from your company in the coming months? Will we see both the Gauge Design and Whitlam Golf names?
Not much of a push, let’s call it slow growth! All the accounts we have a very good and loyal. We will continue to grow and pick up quality accounts. We really do not want to be in every store and our accounts are for the most part very well informed. They know what they are getting when they buy our product. Gauge Design will be more exclusive and I will do limited runs with a few new models in the next few months. The Whitlam Golf line will be more mainstream and will go to all accounts.
How can golfers get their hands on your putters? What plans do you have to reach more customers in the future?
They can order online, call us or go to their local pro or shop and tell them to contact us and bring in some putters. As for reaching more customers… we're planning on using the internet quite heavily.
What kind of customization and fitting do you offer golfers?
We offer customers the standard loft, lie and length adjustments. If you’re lucky and ask I might have time to add some weight or do a belly putter for you. Fittings and custom putters are reserved only for tour players at this point. When I first started I had more time and would make special putters for consumers, but today I am simply too busy. I wish I could do it because I love talking to the regular guy or gal.
Where you do come up with your design ideas?
The ideas are numerous and lots have not made it to the notebook yet. The Type M3 AL was a putter I drew up one night while sitting and flipping channels. I liked the shape of the remote that I had at the time. The remote was the inspiration for the Type M3 AL and what is now the Switcher (two putters in one) reversible head.
What types of technologies do you have patented?
The Alu-Inser has a utility patent. I also have “The Switcher” with a few more patents pending.
Your SPI putters have been a real hit. Tell us a bit about the technology behind them.
The SPI-3 is fun. The original patent covered replaceable sole plate weights for putters. Unfortunately our milling skills were not as advanced as they are today and we were playing catch up with ourselves. The weights are made from three metals. The lightest one that gives you a 340g head is made from aluminum, the 355g insert is made from bronze and the 365g insert is made from 303 stainless steel.
Many companies are offering larger, more unique heads in an attempt to make a more forgiving putter. Most of your designs are more traditional. Have you done any experimenting with the larger, high MOI heads?
Yeah you noticed… thanks! I am not a bandwagoner. High MOI on a putter? I thought putting was all about feel. How many high MOI putters actually give the player great feel? Since the wave of high MOI putters, has the average golfers putting average improved? I would bet not.
I have done a few high MOI putters but they get so crazy that they start to look like potato mashers. They're just not for me. I like to make putters for players. If they were the new answer then most guys on tour would be using them. I did one for Maruman a few years back. It was a cool putter with a great design and great tonal feedback but sales were not that good.
Your main focus is obviously putters. Do you have any aspirations of expanding into other areas like woods, irons or wedges?
My companies are all about the short game. "100 Yards and In" should be the new slogan. I do some great wedges right now. I get the forgings from Japan and then bring them over here. I then mill the face, saw cut the grooves and polish them up. They are great and feel fantastic. I also have some plans to do some Gauge Design irons in the near future.
Your Whitlam Signature Series putters made the 2008 Golf Digest Hot List. Do you pay much attention to accolades like that?
It's great! Over the years we have had some great press but I normally hear about it from customers and friends.
There's been some demand for your putters on the various professional tours. What kind of challenges do you face when trying to get your putters in the hands of tour players?
I am a family guy so it's hard to get out there and service the tour. I have many good players from all over the world that are now making their way to my office on a regular basis. It's fun and keeps me striving to keep them happy. If it works for them it will work for the rest of us.
How can our readers get a hold of you if they're interested in more information?
A lot of people are shocked that I actually answer the phone from time to time. I still take some sales calls and still call on accounts. We are a small company that has been around for almost 10 years. I see all the emails that still come to both companies so I am very active in that regard. Email is really the best way as I can reply to so many more people in a short amount of time.
Thanks again to David Whitlam for taking the time to talk with us! Check back tomorrow for some pictures of one of David's most recent custom creations!