For two decades putter artist Scotty Cameron has had a successful relationship with Acushnet, propelling his putter brand to iconic status within the Titleist family. Even after twenty years the partnership is still growing with new products and even a new specialty shop to open in 2014. We caught up with the man himself at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show to talk about it all.
Flagstick: You’re here at the biggest golf industry show that happens every year. What do you get out of being here with so many of your industry colleagues, a lot of pros, and customers around?
SC: “I like to come because I get to see the reaction to what I’ve been working on in my mind and in my shop and wondering if they are going to get it. I wonder if they are going to see…to get what I get out of a design. On the tour pretty much all the bugs are worked out by the time I get to this trade show which is the biggest of the year and when people see your product you know if you are on track.”
Flagstick: You’re up to two decades now in your partnership with Acushnet, what’s changed for you in those 20 years?
SC: “Twenty years ago when Wally Uihlein, who is the CEO of Titleist/Acushnet/FootJoy, and I sat down and we became friends over six months, what he said he was going to do with his company and what I said I was going to do, we did. Twenty years later we are doing exactly that. So it’s been a really great marriage. It probably doesn’t happen all that often in business. I am thrilled to be with the greatest golf company in the world. I think we’ve held our bargain in the putter section for the greatest company. Wally Uihlein is one of the finest guys you will ever meet and he is a man of his word. What’s nice is, twenty years into it, the opportunities that we’ve built for the next twenty years…we’ve set a great foundation for the future.”
Flagstick: Speaking of opportunities why don’t you tell us about the retail operation that is scheduled to happen?
SC: “The best players in the world come to my studio to see what’s new, what’s going on, and they always ask ‘can I buy a t-shirt; can I buy a hat’. They’re great, they get excited and they want things so I walk down to the beach and there’s this great little location about five miles from my studio. It became available and we got this location. It’s a place for the consumer to come in and get fit just like a touring pro. So it is a fitting gallery. Then when you get done you’re able to buy a putter, or a hat, or a shirt. Are we going to carry the full line of Titleist gear? That’s not it. This is a boutique; we’ll call it Scotty Cameron Gallery and it’s a place to get fit, get excited about Cameron and stay in touch. We’ll have a website to go back and forth, share things with you (customers/fans). It just seems right. It’s a place to come in, hang out, and see what’s going on.”
Flagstick: You’ve done a lot of things to control the growth of the brand and maintain the following, how can you make a boutique special?
SC: “I love metal, of course. So this boutique is all about industrial, mechanical elegance – big I-beams, angle cuts. So I make things for the studio and this gallery is going to be ridiculous. I don’t want any golf, any green, I want people to just walk in and not now where they are at but they can tell they’re someplace special.”
Flagstick: But really, people shouldn’t be expecting to see you there a lot, right?
SC: “Well, I walk down there every day which is why I picked this location. So I’m down there six days a week. I will come and I’ll hang out. It’s a great spot, and I’ve heard this about my studio – that it’s a great spot to hang out, and this place will be similar. We’ll have new products there all the time because when we get things back from a touring pro that I make, and a touring pro says it’s not really what they liked, that product will come back through or tour rep who comes in every Thursday and he’ll hand it off and we’ll do a COA (Certificate of Authenticity) saying this was played on the tour. That used product will be in this gallery so every week we’ll have new stuff, a putter or even a headcover that a guy used on tour. Maybe it’s be signed by Jason Dufner or Adam Scott. So we’ll just have cool stuff in there. I’m excited.”
Flagstick: You’ve always blended the art and the science with your putters very well, how has that changed over the years as far as how much technology has come into play in your designs?
SC: “Technology; if you don’t use it you’re behind the eight ball but there is a nice blend between the technology and hand-craftsmanship. You know if you don’t get the hand work into it they just look like boomerangs so there is a fine line between technology and milling, materials, weight distribution. Computers can take this and tell you exactly where you need to go, how big can I go, how wide can I go, how heavy can I go, and change the MOI of a putter for resistance to twisting. So I think there is a balance between science and art, which I call the Art of Putting.
Flagstick: So that blend obviously comes into play when it comes to a putter like the new Futura X Mallet. How do you make a putter that has so much going for it from a technology standpoint and keep it visually appealing? What do you focus on in a design like that?
SC: “I wanted the weights in the Futura X to show up. The old Futura had a C-shaped weight. I turned that backwards, then took the mid-section of that weight and put it at the ends. I wanted people to be able to see that, that it is bizarre, that we have gone to the extreme in weights, in measures. What’s funny is the first reaction is that is ‘whoa, those are big weights hanging off back there’ but after three holes they never look back there again. If you’re making a lot of putts you really don’t look at things like that.”
Flagstick: So what has the reaction been to the other new putters for 2014?
SC: “It’s been great. We’re talking science and art and the new Fastback and the new Select line – the sound was always a bit hollow because we only have so much weight to work with, about 340 grams, so when I get into the mallet family the face gets thin, the sole gets thin because I need to grow that size. With changing to the aluminum soleplate I’m able to take the aluminum and move it around but then the criss cross is the aluminum when it pops through the top and creates a sight line. So if we were to cut lines that thick and they were painted, the paint would get whoop de doos in it and you get stuck looking at a funny paint issue. So with the aluminum coming though the sole we took care of those issues, we took care of sound issues because sound is feel. By by simply adding a sole plate and moving weight out we created a better product that looks better, sounds better, and feels better.”
Flagstick: You’ve been doing this for twenty years, and longer outside of Acushnet, and when you look ahead do you see yourself ever being able to get away from it since it’s such a part of you now?
SC: “Yes, at some point, but at the Studio now we have a great group of people, I don’t call them staff, I don’t say they work for me, I’ve got friends and I love to interact with them. As I get older and mentor and share experience of the past I’ve got to bring along that experience to these younger guys – these younger guys and their computers. I really enjoying working with these young guys; they’re so smart when it comes to technology. But whether it’s as a mentor or doing it myself I’m not going anywhere soon.”