Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Putters made Famous

We work extensively at the United States Golf Academy with Mizuno USA along with other companies. As a Mizuno staff professional one of the fun parts of the job for me is the relationship with Bob Bettinardi and his people at Bettinardi Golf. If you aren’t familiar with Bob, he builds putters for the Mizuno Golf, as well as custom work for players on the tour. Occasionally, we have access to the putters from the tour that were not put into play, and we custom fit these heads to our customers at the Academy. These putters are milled from a single block of metal, and are truly works of art.

For me, golf club geek that I am, these putters have an identity of their own. Over the years certain putters have become legendary in the golf world and I can’t help but wonder that if circumstances were different would one of these creations had a chance to become legendary as well. Some examples of these famous putters are:

Arnold Palmer’s MacGregor IMG 5. For most of the glory years this was the putter. He was constantly tweaking, welding new metal and then grinding it off, but in some shape or form it was in the bag for most of his tournament wins. At one point the grinding and work he did on it was the inspiration for …

Ben Crenshaw’s Wilson 8802. This model of putter was a copy of one of Arnold’s grinding sessions and was the one used by Ben Crenshaw for his entire career. Ben’s almost mythical skill has made the 8802 and the Designed by Arnold Palmer version, prized collectors items. In addition to Crenshaw, players like Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Larry Mize and many others have won major tournaments using this style of putter.

Jack Nicklaus’ Wizard 600. Another product of a welding and grinding session, Jack’s Wizard 600 is uniquely his. The production model was built by the Hansberger Brothers of Chicago and unlike the others, no one really every used the Wizard in competition to any level of success. Jack’s putter was easily the most successful golf club in history until…

Tiger Woods’ Scotty Cameron Newport. An offshoot of a Karsten Solheim (Ping Golf) design, Tiger put this putter in the bag in the late 90’s and all of his wins from that time have been with this one putter. Tiger’s success with this putter has spawned an entire industry of collectable items related to putters and has influenced countless players to believe their putter has to be like Tiger’s. This putter is not only the winningest putter of all time, it is also the most influential.

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