Scotty Cameron finally gets with custom-clubbing craze

Everyone knows golf is a game of contradiction and paradox “ effortless power, rigid but self-enforced rules and the vexing challenge of focusing on reward while simultaneously avoiding risk.
Heres another one: one of the worlds most famous and most successful clubmakers assiduously denying the average player much choice at all in selecting the most important _ and second most expensive _ club in the bag. [photopress:newport_1.JPG,full,alignright]
For years, its been impossible to get an off-the-rack Scotty Cameron blade putter that was anything but 35 inches long. Finally, confronted with the reality of movable weights and exchangeable shafts, even the stubborn Scotty has changed his ways.
Studio Select, the latest line of classic Cameron Newport and Newport 2 blades, will include exchangeable weights in the sole and a choice of lengths _ 33, 34 and 35 inches _ when they hit stores in March.
The new Studio Select putters are precision milled with circular weights in the heel and toe that allow each model to be offered at 33, 34 and 35 lengths. The Newport and Newport 2 Studio Select models will offer three different neck configurations – plumbing, short flair and mid slant.
They can also be bent to lie 2 degrees higher or lower than the standard 71 degrees and come with six different grip options.
Most putter heads are only weighted for 35-inch shafts and therefore are much too light for shorter lengths, or too heavy for longer lengths, Cameron himself says in the news release.
Too often, the same heads are placed in shafts of all lengths. The result is the golfer having to hit at the ball instead of being able to stroke the ball, and that creates distance control problems.
Camerons apparent change of heart has been a long time coming.
Ever since Tiger Woods wielded his Tei3 Teryllium Newport 2 en route to that world-changing victory at the 1997 Masters, Scotty Camerons name has been synonymous with the best putters in the world.
But unless you had a Tour card or money to burn, using one of Camerons precision blades meant you were pretty much stuck with a 35-inch model with a 71-degree lie and standard loft.
Getting that changed meant sending your gamer on an expensive trip to the Scotty Cameron Custom Shop _ until just recently, Cameron refused to take anything more than a half-inch off the shaft _ and the result, in my experience, often didnt have the same buttery smooth feel and impeccable balance of the original.
That rigidity seemed to persist even as the conventional wisdom about putter length began to change in recent years. Experts emerged to say most players were using putters that were simply too long, largely because retailers and manufacturers alike werent offering much of a range of options. Putter fitting was unheard of at the time, and remains a distant concern for the vast majority of recreational players.
If youve ever altered a Cameron blade _ even by way of the Scotty shop _ youll know that an old-school Scotty putterhead simply doesnt feel the same when its at the end of a 34 or a 33 inch shaft. The playing characteristics of the club are changed so dramatically that you might as well have a bargain-bin knockoff in your hands.
Clubmakers with more than a passing interest in your game will often run screaming if you try to get them to do so much as regrip a Scotty Cameron, and with good reason.
Its surprising that Cameron took so long to come around to the idea of shorter shafts and tweakable head weighting, but it took no time at all for the change to show results. D.J. Trahan was stroking one on the greens at La Quinta earlier this month en route to his win at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
Studio Select putters will be available beginning March 15, 2008, with a suggested retail price of US$325.

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James McCarten

When James McCarten isn't at the Ottawa offices of The Canadian Press, where he works as parliamentary news editor, he's either on the golf course or putting off his latest freelance golf-writing gig to spend time with wife Lisa and school-age kids Claire and Lucas. With 20 years of experience in Canadian journalism, James also suffers from a financially crippling addiction to all things Scotty Cameron.

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