People you should know in golf: Austie Rollinson
Austie Rollinson is the chief designer for putters at Odyssey and has worked on iconic models such as the Two-Ball which has gone on to be one of the most successful model of all time.
He’s made putters for many of the world’s best players working closely with the likes of Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Henrik Stenson and more recently, Rory McIlroy.
If you look a bit more closely at his surname, it’s no surprise he ended up working in putters.
Mickelson was very quick to praise Rollinson after his Open victory at Muirfield in 2013. The designers has made putters for Phil at very short notice on a few occasions…
But how did he get into one of the most important jobs in the golf industry?
We met him at the PGA Show in Orlando to find out…
Where did you grow up?
When did you first get into golf?
I was probably seven or eight years old when I started playing golf at my dad’s club.
What was your first job in golf?
Probably a caddie at the club for special tournaments when they needed extra bodies. I was in high school at the time so about 14 or 15 years old.
How did you get from there to where you are now?
I went to college as a physics major so when I was graduating I thought about what I was going to do.
I knew I loved golf so wanted to try and combine the two. I looked to get an advanced degree in engineering but then decided not to do that.
I looked at going to landscape architecture school to maybe become a golf course architect.
After deciding against all of that I looked at getting a PHD in physics but my dad said I needed to get a job.
He was in the insurance business so told me to go and talk to a friend of his to get a job.
He said I shouldn’t get into the insurance business just because I had nothing better to do or just because to was what my father wanted me to do.
I still wanted to get into golf and he said they were members of the national golf foundation and had a book with contacts, names and addresses of everyone in golf.
He gave me that and I just sent out letters to 20 or 25 different golf companies and one of them was to Dick Helmstetter at Callaway Golf (head of R&D and responsible for some of the most important innovations in golf equipment in the 1990s).
He was the only one who called me up and flew me out for an interview. That was 25 years ago.
I started doing putters in about 1994 doing Callaway and Odyssey designs. The last eight years have been sole focussed on Odyssey designs.
What was the best decision you ever made?
Taking the chance in moving out to California from New Jersey. It was a big decision. I had never been to California.
It has paid off, it was the right thing to do.
And the worst decision?
I don’t have any regrets. If I’ve made some bad decisions, I won’t admit them!
What is the one piece of advice you’d give?
Follow your dreams and do what you want to do. Pursue your dreams with all your heart. No one is going to hand anything to you. No one is going to come to you, you’ve got to go to them.
Callaway weren’t looking to hire anybody when I sent them a resume. If I hadn’t have asked, then I wouldn’t have got the job.
Companies are always looking for good people and you’d be surprised at what stands out to them.
If you weren’t working in golf what would you be doing?
Probably selling insurance! And playing a lot more golf.
A few quick ones… Current handicap?
Ever had a hole-in-one?
Tiger or Jack?
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
What has been the single most important innovation in golf equipment?
It wouldn’t be anything in putters I don’t think.
In my time, probably the solid core golf ball technology. I grew up playing the balata wound balls and the balls nowadays are much more high performance and much easier to hit.
They go a lot straighter. It’s a lot harder to curve a golf ball than it used to be.
More information can be found on the Odyssey website.