Selling the Putting Game to Offset the Downturn

| The New York Times |

Stephen Boccieri, the president and chief executive of Heavy Putter, knows all about this trait. A former nuclear engineer, Boccieri grew up in a family of golfers and has always yearned to play the game for a living. He even thought about trying the Champions Tour, beating thousands of balls a day at the indoor range he fashioned in his South Salem, N.Y., home.

A practice session on a tee adjacent to Tom Watson snapped Boccieri back to reality.

"I looked at Tom hitting shots and said, ‘I could never beat this guy,' " Boccieri said Thursday as he stood in the Heavy Putter booth at the show.

What he can do is design functional putters that work for golfers from tour pros to high handicappers. Heavy Putter, which made its original mark in the industry by producing an array of putters weighing about two pounds - almost twice the weight of standard putters - with a technology story that resonated with golfers. Essentially, the heavier mass engages the body's larger muscles, creating a more consistent stroke.

Heavy Putter has garnered a following. But Boccieri is not satisfied with a 4 percent share of the roughly 1.5-million-unit market, and introduced a line of midweight putters at the show that he believes will help his company pick up 2 to 3 share points.

Other economic fallout from the downturn could benefit smaller companies: most of the larger manufacturers are no longer paying tee-up money to induce touring pros to use their putters as part of a 14-club deal, which gives the smaller companies a chance to get their putters in the hands of pros based strictly on merit.

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