by Derek on January 24, 2011

in Equipment,Reviews

Chris Hoeppner's (who manages MACHINE's internet presence) new putter

A MACHINE putter was one of my 2010 holiday gift picks.  The reason is simple.  If you’re willing to spend $300 on a Scotty Cameron, you owe it to yourself to consider getting a one-of-a-kind putter customized for your individual putting stroke.

Everybody recognizes the value in being fitted for irons, drivers, and even golf balls.  But for some reason, players with completely custom bags are still out there playing off the rack putters.  It really doesn’t cost much more to get a MACHINE putter that’s perfectly fit for you.

I recently spent an afternoon with Dave Billings, the founder/CEO/guru at MACHINE Putters.  Dave was very gracious and spent quite a bit of time taking me through the history of the company and showing me a number of his various designs.

Benny at MACHINE Putters

Benny hard at work in the studio putting the finishing touches on a putter

The MACHINE Putter Studio is located at the Hank Haney Golf Ranch in Dallas.  This is where the fittings, finishing and testing takes place.  When you drop by the studio you’ll probably either run into Benny or Dwight.  They are both former PGA Tour players that know their way around the putting green.

And let me just say that value you get from the fitting process is astounding.  I purchased my putter from MACHINE back in August.  I’d estimate that between testing my (then) current putter, tweaking my stroke, testing various putter options, testing the final putter, and tweaking my stroke some more – I probably spent about 3.5-4 hours on their SAM Puttlab.  They wouldn’t take a extra penny for the time they spent working with me.  That alone was easily worth as much as I paid for my putter.

An early MACHINE prototype

Dave is a 23 year veteran of the golf Industry.  He got his start at Yonex and then partnered with Tom Stites on various projects over the years (you might recognize Stites as Nike Golf’s club designer).  He eventually developed the HOG putter, which you may remember was the original high MOI putter, and is responsible for a number of the design innovations that you see in putters today.  Realizing that golfers were starting to recognize the value of customized equipment, Dave founded MACHINE Putters to fill that role in the industry.

A raw CNC milled putter head

Hand peening a putter head

Each putter is individually CNC milled from a solid block of steel (or various other materials as you’ll see in a minute).  Dave explained to me that it actually takes over an hour to mill each individual putter.  And then he goes to work further customizing the putter to each individual’s needs.

A machine putter head with a plethora of various design options sitting on the table behind

The level of customization that’s possible is really astounding.  You can keep things basic and simple like I did or you can work with Dave to design something that could easily sit in a fine art museum.  And as I mentioned before, the pricing is very reasonable.  Basic designs start at $300-350 and can go up to as much as you want to spend.  My putter is fairly simple and didn’t cost too much more than the entry level.



A face view of my putter

One of the unique things that you’ll notice about MACHINE putters is the vertical mill groove (VMG) face.  This acts much like the grooves on a RIFE or Yes! putter and helps produce immediate forward roll off of the putter face, improving distance control and accuracy.

I’ll just conclude by saying that if you’re on the fence about getting fitted for a putter, do it.  I love the putter that MACHINE made for me.  The first round I played with it, I made 4 tough birdie putts that I normally wouldn’t have sunk.  Almost 6 months later, I’m still loving this putter as much as ever.  And coming from somebody like me, who used to change putters like underwear, that’s about the best complement I can give.


Now for some gratuitous MACHINE Putter pics:

Machine Putter

If you want to see these pics and more, head over to the MACHINE Putters thread on Golfwrx.  It’s 78 pages (and growing) of MACHINE awesomeness.

And just in case anybody is wondering.  I payed out of pocket for my putter.  It wasn’t some kind of freebie in exchange for an article (although Dave did insist of paying for lunch when I met with him in Dallas a few weeks ago – I’m a sucker for good Tex-Mex).

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Johnson January 25, 2011 at 6:10 pm

What about pictures of the “Closer” winner of the 2008 USGA MID-AM at Bandon Dunes.
Didn’t Ryan Moore one putt the last eight holes in a PGA Tour event with a Machine putter while he was endorsing another brand?


Derek January 27, 2011 at 12:41 am

Yes, Ryan Moore did indeed put a Machine putter in play while under contract with another brand last year. My understanding is that the other brand even tried building a clone of the Machine, but he didn’t put it in play.

I’ve also heard through the rumor mill that a number of other PGA Tour players have spent some time testing Machine putters and were very impressed – including a certain feline nicknamed Nike staffer and another PGA Tour pro that happened to do pretty well in the FedEx cup last year.


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