When it comes to the art of making putters, nobody does it better than Scotty Cameron.
Born in California in 1962, Don T. Cameron - or 'Scotty' for short - learned his craft at a very early age, when he would make putters with his father in the garage of the family home.
In 1991, he started designed and manufacturing putters for the likes of Maxfli, Cleveland, the Ray Cook Golf Company and Mizuno.
He really shot to prominence in 1993 when Bernhard Langer won the Masters using a prototype putter developed by Scotty under the auspices of the Cameron Golf International company he and his wife had launched the previous year.
Before long, he had multiple major equipment companies looking to sign him to a deal to make putters exclusively for them. Titleist ultimately won the rights in 1994, since which time the Scotty Cameron brand has grown into one of the leading names in golf.
It has racked up over 500 worldwide tournament wins and accounted for approximately one-third of all major championship victories since 1993. Not bad going by any measure.
We recently caught up with the master craftsmen to pick his brains about all things putters...
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt about putters/putting over the years?
Every person, every stroke and everyone’s preferences in putters is unique. I still think the most important thing about putting and putters is that the player must feel confident in the putter’s appearance from address. The weight of the club and just the sense of calm that the right putter shape gives the player is the most important thing. Your putter must instill and inspire confidence.
Is putting an art or a science?
We actually like to say our putters are the perfect blend of art and science because we’re first focused on the aesthetics. How they look. The reaction you get from first glance. What do you see - or not see - from address? That’s the art. But the science is very real, too. We’re determining radius measurements down to the thousandth of an inch and then milling to those tolerances. We’re able now to make incremental changes in design and see the results almost immediately.
Which numbers do you look at when going through a putter fitting?
It really is a combination of numbers, measurements and setup preferences that help to determine the type of putter we fit someone into. Again, you want to start with the type of putter someone likes. Then, we look at eye position over the ball, which helps to determine the right length. That translates to weight and then we start dialling-in the right neck for the amount of toe flow, or arc, someone is looking to create with the stroke. We also measure the player’s weight distribution and other key factors that help us give the player an informed recommendation.
How important is the grip on your putter in producing a consistent stroke?
If you’re a guy who manipulates the putter with your hands, the grip
can definitely affect the consistency of the stroke. We’ve seen a trend
with Tour players toward liking the thicker grips, which can take the
hands out of the stroke and let the arms swing freely. The feel player
who likes to work the putter a bit more usually favours smaller diameter
Comparing the first Newport and the most recent 2018 edition, they’re the same blade style but look very different. What is the biggest difference in the Newport of then and the Newport of now?
That’s a great question because to the casual observer they seem very similar. However, the technology - namely our CNC precision milling capabilities - used during the past twenty years has allowed us to refine every aspect of this time-honoured design. I would say the biggest difference, though, between the Classic Newport and the more modern Newport is our removable, interchangeable sole weights that we pioneered about a decade ago. From a practical standpoint, it made customising a putter’s length-to-weight ratio with relation to proper swing weight something that could be achieved with a single putter head. Back in the day, we had to mill three different putter heads to properly weight and shaft 33”, 34” and 35” putters. Now, we just install the correct sole weights at the right length and everyone’s happy. Add in our face inlays integrated with the vibration dampening system we also developed, and you’re talking about dialling-in like never before – sound and feel, as well.
What is the future of the putter? How much further can technology go? Will we keep moving toward high MOI mallets or will there always be a place for the Newport style blade putters?
We still have to abide by the rules of the USGA and R&A but I do think technology will continue to help us push the boundaries of design especially when it comes to positioning weight when designing putters that fall under the guidelines of high-MOI mallets. But, yes, there will always be a place for the Newport-style blade. Always has been, always will be.
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