While watching the playoff for this years Greenbrier Classic, I noticed that Ted Porter Jr. was using a Piretti hand made putter while on his way to winning his first PGA Tour event. Piretti got some great advertising when on the second playoff hole the television cameras zoomed in on Ted’s putter and everyone in tv land (even those of you with out HD) could clearly read Piretti on the back of Ted’s putter. Plus it was a really great that Ted made the putt to continue the playoff after the cameraman zoomed in on the putter, this would have been a different story had he three putted to loose the playoff.
Anyways, I wanted to blog about hand made putters, or boutique putters, or just the smaller names of the putter making community. I will say in advance that I use a Scotty Cameron Putter. Hardly a hand made or small company in the golf world, but I thought we could explore together the intricacies of the boutique putter companies.
My top five hand made putter companies:
- Bettinardi Putters: I sometimes forget that Bettinardi is not a big putter company. Being that I live in Chicago, and the Bettinardi Putter Co is located in Tinley Park, IL I forget that Bettinardi is still a relatively small company. I have used Bettinardi putters in the past, and I play with a few golfers who are Bettinardi nuts. Bettinardi has been around since 1998, and he has teamed up with some of the Major brands making putters in cooperation with Hogan, and more recently Mizuno. Jim Furyk, Jasper Parnavik, and Brian Gay have all won PGA Tour event with Bettinardi Putters. All of the Bettinardi putters are milled proudly in the USA, and even more direct right here in Chicago.
- Piretti Fine Putters: There are a few things that make Piretti Fine Putters different from other manufacturer. Mike Johnson designs the putter heads to be about 15-45 grams heavier than the average putter off the rack. Their claim is the heavier head helps smooth out the putting stroke and gives the player better putting accuracy. It also helps quiet the hands and wrists and makes you use your bigger muscles to putt. Piretti putter heads also come with 2.5 degrees of loft on the putter to get the ball rolling faster. Piretti makes very simple and classic looking putters, and are quite frankly very reasonably priced for hand crafted putters. A Piretti putter was also spotted at the 2012 Masters Tournament.
- C&L Putters: C&L put a premium not so much on their designs, but their ability to customize the basic putter designs (which lets face it, every putter looks pretty damn close in design) with the stamping of the putter, the sight lines, the weld, the finish of the putter, and the loft lie and length of each putter. Their putters are great looking, not a great looking putter cover, and some very cool customization available. I have seen some of the putters in their gallery, and you can make them as simple (one dot at the top with just their C&L log on the back of the face) as you like, to the equivalent of a tatted up hipster walking the streets of Buck Town (stamps and designs, and different colored pain fills, and anything that you can stamp into a putter head). C&L is a great putter if you know what you want (have been fitted by a professional) and you like to put your name on everything you own.
- Byron Golf Design: Byron Golf has some of the best looking hand made putters I have seen so far. They are classic looking, and look like weapons of mass destruction (at least they will be destructive to your playing partners). Byron Golf has been around in some way shape or form since the 80’s (which is much longer than most of the other companies on this list) where he first started on Persimmons Woods, then moved on to metal woods, and ultimately found his place in hand making putters with a Southern California Flair. His website is the easiest to follow, the pricing is the most descriptive and least bit confusing (some of the other sites are either very difficult to find the pricing or hard to use in general). I like that he has the California Surfer lifestyle that doesn’t really blend well with the uptightness of the golfing world, but that very juxtaposition is what makes Bryon Golf the Chicago Golf Guy’s favorite so far for boutique putters.
- TP Mills: The TP Mills Putter company has been designing ground breaking putters since 1960. A scratch golfer who was not happy with his current putter set out to make something for himself, to improve his putter, an low and behold 50+ years later the TP Mills company is still making putters, designing on the forefront of the golf industry and racking up PGA Tour wins. I have owned and putted with some of the early TP Mills putters, and I always putted well with it (I wonder what happened to that putter???). TP Mills is credited with being the first to mill putters out of a carbon steel, was the first to make putters black, helped design the famous flanged bulls eye putter for Acushnet, first to put his name on the face of the putter, the first to mark the true sweet spot of the putter, the first to add weight to the toe to counter balance the weight of the hosel to keep the sweet spot closer to the center for a better balance, and the first to design the slant heel located behind the hosel. TP was really one of the fore fathers to making putters hand made and crafted rather then just thrown together with extra parts. We can also credit TP Mills with making putters more expensive, once in the range of $35 a head to several hundred or even several thousand. Thanks TP.
Chicago Golf Guy’s 2 Cents:
Almost every avid golfer has spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the golf equipment, $300 or $400 on a new driver that is guaranteed to give you 5 more yards, but never really seems to do the trick. Putters today seem very expensive to the average joe, and why would I buy a Scotty Cameron for $350 when I can get another name brand like Odyssey or TaylorMade putter for $100 to $150. You can even spend less and get a putter for under $50 that is a knock off design of the big manufactures. The bottom line is no one can tell you what to spend your money on, and there is no magic wand that will guarantee you make every putt (like that one Albert Einstein made for Al Cervix in Caddy Shack). I will say this though, we all buy new drivers like its going out of style, and we can spend quite a bit of money to get only a few more yards. Doesn’t it make more sense to spend the most amount of money on the club that we use the most in every round of golf.
36 shots out of the standard 72 shots required to play a round of golf are done on the putting green. When you think of your putter as half of your game, we should all probably spend more time getting fitted, and finding the best putter for our games. I have always been a little hard on the hand made putter companies, but now after really thinking about it…maybe they are right. Who knows, all I know is that I am going to find a hand made putter to try out, and I am sure I will let all of you know about it.
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I would suggest taking a look at Kenny Giannini, awesome putters. Small company in the Palm Springs area. Hand made and very well balanced.