The story behind Matt Fitzpatrick’s custom putter
6 Min Read
Written by GolfWRX @GolfWRX
U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick is known for his dedication to detail. He enters intricate stats about every shot he strikes into a spreadsheet, so it should come as no surprise that it took 30 custom prototypes to find a putter that fit him perfectly.
This is the story of how Fitzpatrick found his custom Bettinardi putter, one that’s based on a flatstick that hasn’t been available for a decade. This custom putter helped him to a win in this year’s U.S. Open and to his TOUR Championship debut. He is 15th in the FedExCup entering the season-ending TOUR Championship, and thus will start the week seven back of leader Scottie Scheffler.
Fitzpatrick began using a Yes! Golf Tracy II when he was 16 years old. That putter was known for its unique C-Groove configuration. The C-Grooves, half-circle grooves facing downward, were said to produce a truer roll on the greens. U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen famously used a Yes! putter to win two U.S. Opens, and Fitzpatrick used his Tracy II to win another national championship in the United States, the 2013 U.S. Amateur.
He continued to use the putter long after he turned professional and had no intentions of switching out the flatstick that brought him such success until he started running into a serious problem around 2016. He needed a reliable source for backup putters, but that became difficult after Yes! filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and was purchased by Adams Golf the next year.
Without the option to purchase from Yes! Golf directly, Fitzpatrick began scouring eBay and exhausting his options to find a replacement.
Around that time is when Sam Bettinardi, the current Vice President of Bettinardi Golf, stepped in with a lifeline. Bettinardi Golf is a putter manufacturer located in Tinley Park, Illinois – near Northwestern University, where Fitzpatrick played for a semester before turning pro -- and the company has machining capabilities that would allow it to custom-make a putter to fit what Fitzpatrick was looking for.
Bettinardi just needed a way to get in contact with Fitzpatrick to tell him about it. A mutual friend provided the crucial connection.
“I approached his friend … (and) said, ‘Hey, I know you’ve played some golf with Fitzpatrick. … We would be the perfect company for him. We can make him all the putters he wants. We can dial it in,’’ Sam Bettinardi recently told GolfWRX. “And he goes, ‘You know what? That’s a good idea, Sam. The problem is Matt’s never going to switch. He’s been using the same putter since he was 16. But I’m happy to make an introduction to his father.’”
And with that conversation, Sam had one foot in the door. When he finally got ahold of Fitzpatrick, it was clear Fitzpatrick didn’t want a new putter. He wanted a replica of his Yes! Golf original.
“I started talking to Matt,” Bettinardi said, “and the premise of the conversation was, ‘If you can duplicate my (Yes! Golf Tracy II), I will use your putter. … I want it to be the exact same as what I have now. But I want to be able to go to somebody if I need tweaks, or I need backups, or I want to change anything. I want to go to a reliable company, … but you have to duplicate it.”
What Sam Bettinardi didn’t know at the time was just how precise Fitzpatrick’s hands and eyes were. Fitzpatrick knew exactly what he wanted, and he wasn’t going to budge until he got it.
“We took that Yes! Tracy II and made him six putters that were very similar,” Bettinardi said. “And that was in 2017. He goes, ‘You know what, you guys are close, but the feel is not there. Change this, change that.’ We made him six more, and he goes, ‘Hey, this is close, but the offset isn’t right. I need it to be this specific offset, and this specific weight.”
Fitzpatrick’s challenge was proving more difficult than Sam Bettinardi and team originally thought.
“Out of all the players I’ve dealt with and worked with – I’ve been working for Bettinardi Golf for 10 years -- … Matt has to be up there in the top three most discriminating players. I’m not going not say picky. I’m going to say discriminating because he’s arguably a top-five putter in the world. He knows exactly what he wants. And if the offset was a slight tick off, or it was one gram different, he could tell.”
Thirty prototype putters later, Fitzpatrick found an acceptable replacement.
“It was a very, very tough project for us, but after about 30 putters, he finally found one where he was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to put it in play,’” Sam Bettinardi explained. “I believe he put it in play in 2018 for a short period of time. He then took it out and put it back into play again in 2021 for most of the season.”
Fitzpatrick used his custom Bettinardi putter to win the biggest title of his career, the U.S. Open, earlier this year. Ironically enough, it was on the same course in Brookline where he used a Yes! Golf putter to win the 2013 U.S. Amateur nine years earlier. What is it that he loves about the C-Grooves? He explained Tuesday, saying, “If I just picked up a regular blade putter out any milling, it feels very fast off that putter. Mine feels a little bit softer.
“Not only that, though, for me when I've hit putts with just a regular-faced putter I feel like it slides on the face a lot,” he added. “Like if I maybe don't quite strike it perfectly, I feel like it slides off in a direction. With the C-groove that I have, I feel like it helps start it online much better.”
Although it was a long and complicated process, Bettinardi Golf learned a bit along the way, including the secret behind the C-Grooves’ success, allowing the company to improve upon the earlier technology.
“The (Yes! Golf) C-Groove has grooves that are milled at an angle, and after studying them, we learned they got the ball into a forward roll, or a true roll faster,” Sam Bettinardi told GolfWRX. “We took that and perfected it, and took it into our Roll Control face, which is what you see in our Inovai and Studio Stock line now. So we bettered that C-Groove for feel purposes, and got the grooves a little bit sharper with our precision machining techniques. ... The best part for us was that the company was out of business and the patent on the C-Groove expired.”
Now, Fitzpatrick continues to use the custom Bettinardi putter that’s made exactly for his preferences, which happen to be the exact same as they were when he was 16 years old using a Yes! Golf Tracy II putter. His former self would surely be proud of his recent accomplishments in 2022, but also of his custom flatstick.