SI Vault
 
Putters
Rick Lipsey
January 30, 1995
From rank amateurs to top pros, frustrated golfers have turned the flat-stick industry into a $182 million business
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
January 30, 1995

Putters

From rank amateurs to top pros, frustrated golfers have turned the flat-stick industry into a $182 million business

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4

Hoping to burst into the business, Odyssey bought a booth at the PGA Merchandise show in Orlando last January. Bad idea. "We went to Florida guns ablazing, but nobody cared," says Magerman. "We were just another company telling the world that our product was better." So Odyssey's troops retreated to their spartan offices in Carlsbad and sketched out a new game plan. "We decided that if our stuff really was the best, we'd take it out to the best. If they would use it, that would convince the public."

Magerman hired Brad Adams, the 29-year-old son of Taylor Made founder Gary Adams, and sent him into battle. Adams hit every Senior tour event last season, and his diligent work translated to astronomical sales. Odyssey took, in $3.5 million in 1994, most of it in the last three months. Magerman anticipates four times that amount in 1995.

Whereas Odyssey's success stems from tenacious promotion, Scotty Cameron's has come more from dedication to great design. Despite his relative youth, Cameron is already considered one of the world's premier putter designers. His specialty is milled putters. Last August, Titleist outbid five other companies to purchase his business.

Wally Uihlein, chairman and CEO of Titleist, was sold after his first visit to Cameron's factory in San Marcos, Calif. "We sketched out a hypothetical putter in words," says Uihlein. "Then, I was amazed by the speed, dexterity and precision with which he took a block of carbon steel, put it on his Bridgcstone milling machine and crafted the concept into life." The first line of Scotty Cameron putters by Titleist will be introduced this week at the PGA Merchandise show in Orlando.

Cameron's rapid ascension is no accident. "People look at me as the kid who gets lucky," says Cameron, a seven-handicap golfer but a terrible putter. "What they don't know is that I"ve been doing this a real long time." As a child in Southern California, Cameron spent weekends scouring flea markets, Goodwill stores and swap meets with his late father, Don, an insurance inspector and avid classic-club collector, who died when Scotty was 13. "That's where I developed my taste for beautiful and classic designs," he says.

When he was 12 Cameron built his first putter in a machine shop owned by his best friend's father, and a few years later his mother let him put a milling machine in the garage to satiate her putter-crazed son. "Scotty is an excellent putter maker," says Crenshaw, who has entrusted Little Ben, the world's most famous putter, to Cameron for routine repairs for several years. "It's a very artistic craft, and you've got to have the eye, which he obviously does."

Having attended junior college from 1980 to '83, Cameron played amateur golf for a few years before landing a job with the Ray Cook Golf Co. in 1986. In four years Cameron's designs, among them the Blue Goose and Billy Baroo, were so popular that Ray Cook's president, Bob Bauer, wanted to change Cameron's pay from royalties to a straight salary. "He thought I was making too much money," says Cameron. "That made it a no-brain decision. I put my head down, went out on my own and concentrated on making the finest putters in the world."

After a year Cameron began selling designs to Mizuno, and within a few months, Mizuno had risen to No. 2 on the PGA Tour Darrell Survey count. In 1993 Bernhard Langer won the Masters with a Mizuno/Cameron, but soon, feeling that Mizuno wasn't marketing his products well enough, Cameron severed his ties with the company.

For Titleist, Cameron will travel the world to 25 tournaments a year. When he is at home, he hardly sleeps. He is in his garage-cum-workshop at dawn, at Titleist's factory from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and after dinner he tinkers in his shop for another hour or two. "I want my work to be known as the Cartier or Tiffany of putters," he says. "If you make the best, people will buy it."

People have bought plenty of Scotty Camerons, ranging from $199 for Titleist models to $1,500 and up for custom designs that he spends 15 to 20 hours building. Cameron and his wife, Kathy, just moved into a sprawling three-floor house overlooking a valley in Carlsbad. They have an ocean view, a pool and a garage for their Mercedes 560 SL and Lexus 400.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4