My final year at Kent State University, home of professional tour pros like the 2003 British Open Winner Ben Curtis, PGA Tour rookie John Mills, Nationwide Tour veteran David Moreland IV, and second-place finisher at this past weekend's Movistar Panama Championship Kevin Gessino-Kraft, I had the opportunity to student teach at a middle school for an entire semester in order to receive that all empowering piece of paper, a diploma. I found the experience quite rewarding, teaching you see is my profession, but I digress.
It was while I was under the tutelage of a highly esteemed educator during my student teaching program when he had told me he collected PING putters. I knew about hickory shafted clubs, mashies, spoons, and the like - those are antiques and highly praised amongst collectors. However, I was not aware of the collect-ability of PING putters.
The gentleman that I had gotten to know quite well throughout the better part of a year was a collector indeed, amassing dozens he had once mentioned. He had given up the game years before though, due to a back injury, but remained steadfast and kept right on collecting those clubs.
I began to do some research on PING putters, and read up on Karsten Solheim and the empire he launched. Solheim was an innovator, laying the groundwork for all other club designers that followed in his footsteps, namely, Scotty Cameron.
The Scotty Cameron name and logo has become somewhat of an iconic symbol in the world of golf. After reading up on the man and his catalog of product, two questions came to mind: why are his putters so expensive? What makes Cameron putters so special?
Is it the striking colors of paint he uses, the partnership he has with Titleist, or the fact that his putters have won dozens of professional tournaments? Maybe because his putters are considered works of art and Cameron himself has revolutionized the way people putt?
Mr. Cameron has been called the guru of putter design for a number of years now. Many PGA Tour professionals like Tiger Woods, Brad Faxon, Ernie Els, Adam Scott, Ben Curtis, Davis Love III, and Mark O'Meara brandish the Cameron steel whenever they stalk the greens of the PGA Tour.
No matter what the answer, as a proclaimed Duffer of the sport, I cannot justify spending $180 on a single putter. That price is just for most of the low-end models. Please, do not get the wrong idea here, I applaud anyone who owns a Cameron putter, I really do. You have made a sound investment. These things are like the Spanish dubloons of the twenty-first century. Their values continue to increase as more and more people want them.
However, I do have to shake a finger and curl my brow at anyone who is looking to buy a game. That issue has been around since the time of the first club makers. Players and hackers alike are always on the look out for the next great product that will knock off those last few strokes of their handicap. Justified.
However these hacks, these pieces of work are the type you will see on your local courses trying to intimidate through expensive clothing and astronomically priced clubs rather than their quality of play. A word to you heathens of the links, use your money for lessons before investing in expensive weaponry, armaments in which you have no idea on how to wield.
You see, this is one of my biggest pet peeves on the course. Golfers who dress the part and equip themselves to play as such, but cannot stand and deliver.
I hope you all understand though, these counterfeit players are a walking/riding paradox. On one hand, you have their horrendous and slow play and their usually obnoxious attitude. On the other hand, these people are the folks who keep the golf business alive. Paying ridiculous prices for clubs, outrageous greens fees on courses they have no business being on, and buying the tackiest of clothing because Golf Magazine has deemed it Cool.
I for one, am no such conundrum and am not a superb player by any means. I recognize my faults and where I belong. I know what I need to do to achieve a higher level of playability and what courses are completely out of my league. If only more start-up and novice players understood their limits.
You may be asking yourselves "what the hell does all this have to do with Scotty Cameron?" Scotty is a business man and his product appeals to both the player and the hack. The player likes his putters because of the innovation, the ingenuity and craftsmanship that is behind every Cameron putter. The hacks covet his putters because the players have them.
It is a messed up world out there, people. Everyone is scrambling to be the best or pay to be the best, or even just pay to look like the best. Pride, humility and maybe a little self control have taken a backseat for some time now, while instant gratification and vanity have prevailed.
I think back to that esteemed educator I knew years ago and wonder if he still has his collection of PING putters and why he even started collecting them in the first place.