Bergquist has been designing and making clubs in the golf industry for 20 years. He recently launched FLUX GOLF at this year’s PGA show. It’s a product innovation studio with over a decade of Insert technology development. Before FLUX, was a founder in a force conversion technology which set a USGA precedent for positive RPM. He got most of his washing and pressing in the putter industry as VP of Engineering for RIFE and Chief Designer for STX. John got his start as an apprentice under master club fitter, Tom Wells back in the late 90’s.
THE BERGQUIST STORY
I had just finished a long contract developing furniture for a healthcare manufacturer. This was between 2000 – 2007. During that tenure I was fortunate enough to have a fabrication studio in Georgetown, an industrial part of Seattle. The area was and still is filled with skilled craftsman and artists. Because of the surrounding Maritime and Aerospace industries, we all had neighborhood access to machinists, finishers, molding houses, etc. I can tell you that a putter and a 6 pack of beer goes a long way. Everyone hooks everyone up. This is how I got a local casting house to begin pouring molds for me. I would make the initial forms out of 1” bamboo plywood. It was easy to shape and use for the molds. Weight distribution and feedback ratio played early roles in material selection.
In the Summer of 2008, I was vacationing in Sunriver Oregon with my family. By this time, I had upped my form casting to machining form. The material of choice at the time was PMMA / Acrylic. The characteristics of this plastic were favorable in resonance and rebound ratio. MOI, Weight Distribution and Sight Alignment drove R/D. I was onto something. However, I had another opportunity that actually paid me, instead of the other way around.
If you haven’t been to Sunriver, you need to go! Oregon golf is incredible, but Sunriver has it all. Including a wonderful little naturally landscaped putting course which has a particularly long hole. 125’ to be exact. On a perfect night in paradise, I found myself alone with a bullseye putter and a stroll on some grass with a decision to be made. The obvious request had such a simple outcome. Make the putt, commit to launching a putter company. Miss it and make sustainable money with security.
Moved the family across the country and back. Ten years later I’m still at it. From legal battles to tour victories, I can’t think of any better way to have spent my 30’s. Now at 42, I feel that I am a part of a new wave within the golf industry. The tide is strong and filled with an incredible amount of talent. Not just on tour, but everywhere. I’m amazed at all of the refined cross pollenating products and services that embrace golf. Excellent design is happening. Sooner than later it always rises to the top. That’s the hope — that great product inspires great product competition.
What was the genesis for FLUX GOLF?
FLUX is an exploration of material science relevance in putter face technology. While weight and form can be modified in any putter, our approach right now is to let solid mass and clean geometry drive forms through function. Hence the launch of the Unity Ambidextrous Blade. It’s that shape for a reason.
How long a time frame from concepts to prototypes to coming into the marketplace?
Started designing in December 2015 and launched this past January 2018. Little over two years. The bulk of time was getting validation via Quintic testing and player feedback. Concurrently, I was tuning the groove / nurb ratio to receive blessing from the USGA.
Plenty of companies tour the qualities of their putters — what distinguishes your efforts from others?
DARtech (Directional Angular Rotation) is a USGA conforming geometric pattern that can be applied to multiple materials from metals to polymers to impart spin on a golf ball. Our progressively tapered face pattern produces overspin with a consistent launch angle / face angle ratio. These two variables are main influencers on golf ball rotation. We doubled down with FloW8 and the Ambidextrous head. We replaced 10 grams of steel in the toe with 30 grams of tungsten. This boosts MOI to resist twisting and leads to a fluid swing path. DARtech is bounce/roll instead of bounce/skid creates more predictable outcomes FloW8 is no twist upon contact equals directional stability regardless of swing path
How was the name FLUX GOLF chosen?
There were a couple other names in the mix, but in the end, the meaning best resonated with the core of the brand. FLUX – For transport phenomena, is a vector quantity, describing the magnitude and direction of the flow of a substance or property. My attorney also said we were solid. The branding and marketing plays a crucial means to get attention on the marketplace.
Golf is one of the only sports that puts an equal emphasis on style and performance. Style doesn’t just relate to apparel and accessories, but also equipment. Brand must translate consistently in all facets of product and marketing. FLUX GOLF takes a minimalist approach to everything we do. This includes breaking down barriers for entry in retail. FLUX is offering a tiered sales program that includes a POP. This display will showcase all four models with the corresponding Bandoleer (Putter Case). We have implemented a 12”screen that showcases a 90-second video highlighting the technology and product specs. This allows the customers to independently review the product in the putter coral without having a store employee guide them. We get to share our story our way while driving customers to a dynamic in-store experience. We have key relationships to help grow our digital platform combined with bi-lateral brand exposure opportunities. These will be our entry into the “pay to play” realm which encompasses all tours.
Define customer service and how FLUX GOLF operates with that in mind?
Customer service is honesty. Give the player an honest product for an honest price. Today, that expands more into the overall brand affinity. I wear certain brands because it
gives me a voice. Not necessarily political, but more personal. FLUX’s mission is to create All-World quality married with performance driven design. We want feedback. Our in-store POP will be able to connect remotely with our community. Our plan is to have tablets as a part of our POP in retail environments allowing members to interact and comment in our forums. We’re always improving. We need input to react efficiently in design and service.
The top three (3) factors when contemplating a putter purchase is what? The top 3 factors when someone is contemplating a putter purchase is what?
In this order — price / value, style and feel.
You can change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
If you want to grow the sport there is only one way… lower the prices on public courses. This could be possible if an association operated similarly like the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA). We could consolidate and disperse the resources evenly from golf course revenue on a National Level. We would have corporate subsidies to ensure the quality of course maintenance and service. This would make golf course ownership a more inviting investment while making rounds affordable.
When I was a kid, our parents and caretakers would drop us off at the local muni and come back 8 hours later. ($6 for 12 and under) This was/is a solid city run muni. We need do it again for kids and adults. Make public courses like private ones. Municipalities need to invest into Municipals. Make them hot spots for meeting, eating and drinking. Just like country clubs.
How important is it for golf equipment companies to get validation from usage on the PGA TOUR and what are the plans for FLUX GOLF in this regard?
Validation on any tour will translate into sales. One must also consider the challenges to get tour play and exposure. I’ve been with two companies that had weekly play above 20 players. Without a win, it can be a very expensive. With a win, it can be expensive. Since we need to be in the tour mix conversation, we are putting much of our initial attention into the Japanese Tours and will start our campaign mid-March in Osaka on the LPGA Japan Golf Tour. Our hopes are to be at 30 events this season.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
Man did not weave the web of life — he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself – Chief Seattle.
For more info go to: www.fluxgolf.com