If there is one thing Scotty Cameron has been good at -- in addition to designing putters tour players and everyday golfers alike drool over -- it's his ability to create mystique. Not a small part of that has been the exclusivity of his putting studio in San Marcos, Calif., which has been off limits to all except tour pros, leaving everyday players wanting the Cameron fitting experience with their noses pressed up against the glass.
That now changes with the official opening of the Scotty Cameron Gallery, a putter-fitting facility in Encinitas, Calif., that is open to the public combined with a retail store and high-end product gallery.
"This is something I have wanted to do for some time," Cameron told Golf World. "But since the studio is also our R&D area, that wasn't doable. But I wanted to fit putters for the public. It's so enlightening and eye-opening to do that. And there's definitely demand."
That there is. The Gallery is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers two fittings a day (a fitting takes two hours and costs $350). Before the doors even opened, more than 300 fittings had been scheduled. Cameron plans to expand to three fittings a day and to open seven days a week in the coming months.
Those coming in for a fitting can expect the same experience Cameron offers in his studio. "We have the same cameras, flooring and force plates so it mimics exactly what we do for the tour pros," Cameron says. "But we also felt people who came to get fit want to be able to leave with something too. So it's a fitting experience, but we also have a full workshop where we can put in the proper weights and the length and the grip size with all the colors. So you cannot only get fit, but actually walk away with a custom-fitted putter. It's the whole experience."
The "experience" is critical to Cameron, who has combined his love of retail with his passion for creating putters. The Gallery is not only a fitting studio, but also a boutique shop, one where classic Beatles and Eagles music plays and everything in the shop -- including display cases (some weighing as much as 1,000 pounds), shelving, doors, doorknobs, etc. -- was created by Cameron's team.
On the product side, visitors can ogle (and purchase) anything from Cameron headcovers, grips and T-shirts to more elegant items such as sportcoats, ties and alligator shoes. For putters, Cameron has created some with his own stamping and paintfills that he refers to as MOTO -- made only to order. In essence, these are stock putters with custom touches. Also for sale will be putters returned from the various tours around the world, each with its own certificate of authenticity as to which tour it came from. And for those wondering what a surfboard is doing there, it's a one-of-a-kind creation from surfing legend Rob Machado -- fitting for the beach-town setting.
If this seems out of the ordinary for a puttermaker, it's not -- at least not for Cameron, whose aficionados have an infatuation with the man and his creations unlike anything in golf. People pay north of $1,000 for one of his . . . headcovers. Ball markers often fetch more than $100 at online auctions. Original putters often bring in tens of thousands of dollars.
Cameron's passion for retail shows when he speaks of the Gallery. "I've always liked the East Coast way of retail, where there are manners and people are dressed sharply," he says. "I hired a retail expert to come in and train my staff on proper etiquette. So it's not like a surf shop where they have flip-flops and swim trunks. This is much more proper. It's unique because it doesn't feel like golf. It's more elegant."
It's also a place Cameron plans to spend a fair amount of time. Asked how often he plans to darken the doors of the Gallery, Cameron quickly replied, "Every day. This is my personal shop, and I want to watch the personal buying habits to see what people love and are drawn to and what they don't like and what they are asking for. This isn't just a business venture. It's personal."
And now it's public as well.
After a tee shot on the seventh hole at Oak Tree National Saturday at the U.S. Senior Open, Jeff Sluman and his playing companion, Doug Garwood, knew something wasn't right. "[It had a] way different sound, little different feel," said Sluman. The reason was the head on Sluman's TaylorMade R11S had cracked, a situation Sluman took in stride. "You know, all drivers eventually will crack," he said. "Unfortunately, mine cracked right there, and it was a big gash. So it was unusable. My backup is in Chicago. Really not doing me much good right now. I guess that's kind of my fault. It was 3-wood the rest of the day."
Although players such as Billy Andrade and Fred Funk attempted to come to Sluman's rescue by offering their backup drivers, they weren't the same model and the adjustable cog wouldn't allow Sluman to put his driver shaft in them. Although Sluman went to a local golf store and found a replacement, he was prepared to go with just his 3-wood in the final round. "I think it's a better 3-wood course than driver course," he said of the layout in Edmond, Okla. "You know, there are a few holes you'd like to have the driver, but it's really not a huge deal."
PRICE: $199 (Lofts: 16, 18, 20 degrees)
A 455 Carpenter Steel face and a slot in the sole boost ball speed in this driving iron-type club. Justin Rose had one in the bag for both of his recent wins.
Colin Montgomerie changed putters after 36 holes of the U.S. Senior Open, using an Odyssey Versa 90 #7 for the weekend. The counterbalanced putter had a standard SuperStroke grip. . . . Rory McIlroy unveiled an addition to his bag via social media, posting a photo on Instagram prior to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open of a Nike prototype iron stamped "MMPROTO" with the comment, "A little something new this week." McIlroy was expected to use the club at the British Open. . . . Inbee Park had a one-of-a-kind Ping putter in the bag at the Ricoh Women's British Open. The putter was a Serene Craz-E Too model that borrowed technological attributes from other Ping putters. The 33-inch club had a face insert used in the company's Scottsdale line, and its alignment plate was from the Scottsdale TR line.