Now open: Scotty Cameron Gallery in California

The new Scotty Cameron Gallery in Encinitas, Calif.

ENCINITAS, Calif. – I spy. I’ve been snooping around the Scotty Cameron Gallery, trying to figure out the mystery of putter designer Scotty Cameron, especially why he has been able to sell putters for as much as $16,000 apiece and putter headcovers for $1,200.

“Yes, those numbers are accurate,” Cameron said with a smile.

The Cameron Gallery opened to the public July 9 in downtown Encinitas. It includes all things Cameron, including individual putter fittings for $350, but it won’t be a retail outlet for clubs other than custom-fit Titleist putters designed by Cameron.

In fact, much of the merchandise in the Gallery has little to do with golf. This venture spotlights Cameron the California kid and world traveler, along with his unique talents and tastes (scottycamerongallery.com).

“I love to shop,” Cameron said. “I’m a shopper. I’m a watch guy. I’m a wine guy. My wife loves to buy purses.

“I love everything about shopping – how it makes you feel, what the smells are in the air.”

Items in the gallery include cashmere clothing, sport coats, slacks, sweaters, staff bags, carry bags, handcrafted belt buckles and ball markers, exotic headcovers for drivers, fairway woods and hybrids, and an array of gifts that captured Cameron’s attention and affection during his travels.

“This is not a surf shop,” Cameron said. “This is a boutique. It goes far beyond golf. For people who come in here, it’s the experience that I want them to have. Everything has a certain vibe and feel, from the flooring to the lighting to the sound-proofing. I wanted really well-done mannequins, and I got them.”

Vibe is an important word to Cameron.

“We know we have a following,” he said, “and this is a focused environment where people can come to feel the vibe. We want to bring that vibe to the average consumer as well as the Cameron Crazies.”

Yes, fans of Cameron have a name reminiscent of, say, Arnie’s Army. They are Cameron Crazies.

Visitors to Cameron’s Gallery will walk on cement floors. They will see I-beams coming out of walls. Furniture is made from industrial I-beams. Motorcycles and bicycles will be part of the experience. For example, there is a Hodaka Super Rat motorcycle, the inspiration for Cameron’s Super Rat putter.

“When you were a kid, that was the motorcycle you dreamed of owning,” Cameron said.

There is a Schwinn Stingray bicycle. “It felt like you had a Ferrari,” Cameron said.

“It’s full of things you remember that make you feel good,” he said. “We want people to want things that make them happy.”

Cameron pictures himself as an artist who just happens to specialize in putters. The Gallery contains 3,000 square feet, one-third devoted to putter fitting.

“You only have one chance to make a first impression,” Cameron said. “I wanted the greatest staff anywhere, and I think I’ve got them. All along I said the Gallery wouldn’t open until it was perfect.”

The setting is downtown Encinitas, a scenic little California town north of San Diego on the Pacific Ocean. The Gallery is located beside six restaurants and a Starbucks with a huge outdoor eating area.

Cameron’s Titleist putters are sought by golfers and collectors around the world, and they are used by hundreds of pros on the PGA Tour and other worldwide tours.

Homage to Cameron comes from many sources. David Edel makes custom putters at Edel Golf in Liberty Hill, Texas. At the recent U.S. Women’s Open, 11-year-old competitor Lucy Li showed up with an Edel putter.

“Scotty Cameron raised the bar,” Edel said. “He raised the $129 putter to a baseline of $350. He made it possible for me to sell hand-made putters and still survive. He’s been a genius at marketing himself and his putters, and people lust after his creations. It’s remarkable.”

The Cameron Gallery is all about shopping, but to some the biggest treat of all will be the possibility of meeting Cameron, who, with his big personality in tow, will spend substantial time at the business. It is located about 7 miles from the Scotty Cameron Putter Studio, which is not open to the public but is a mecca for touring pros from around the globe.

“My goal is to be down here every day for at least an hour,” Cameron said. “I love being a philosopher of golf and, of course, life. This is not a place to come and get a putting lesson. It is a place to understand putting, how the putter and the player act together to affect the golf ball.”

Everything seems big about Cameron – his animated streaming rhetoric, his continual output of putter designs, his impact on the PGA Tour and his friendships with pros.

The Gallery, according to Cameron, is a “joint venture” between Titleist and Cameron. He says the project was enthusiastically endorsed from the beginning by Wally Uihlein, chief executive officer of Acushnet Co., Titleist’s parent company.

Explained Steve Pelisek, general manager of Titleist Golf Clubs: “The Gallery provides an opportunity for serious golfers to experience the same fitting process previously available only to touring golf professionals and Titleist staff professionals at the Scotty Cameron Putter Studio. Participants will gain the knowledge provided by Scotty’s high-speed video putting-stroke analysis. Scotty wanted to make sure everything was perfect before opening it up. That time has come.”

This is Cameron territory. He walks on the beach in Encinitas almost every morning. He and his wife, Kathy, named their daughters Summer and Sandy in honor of the California beach environment.

Cameron talks frequently about Louis Vuitton, the worldwide fashion and design house. Cameron fancies himself as something of a Vuitton expert.

For Summer’s high school graduation, the family traveled to Paris. “The No. 1 store for Louis Vuitton is in Paris,” Cameron said. “I collect Louis Vuitton trunks. We use them as furniture.”

Get the picture? He seems intent on expanding his reputation beyond golf. He could be Louis Vuitton in knickers.

Cameron is 51. Before joining Titleist in 1994, he designed putters for Ray Cook, Maxfli, Cleveland, Founders Club and Mizuno.

However, his creative instincts did not completely flourish until Titleist’s Uihlein unleashed him from mandatory putter shapes and told him to be brilliant.

To judge how successful he has been, or how far he has come, just take a drive on the southern California coast. Cameron has a Gallery, named after himself and conceived in the image of the artist he always dreamed of being.

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