There are only two putters in Tiger Woods’s home putting studio that his 7-year-old son, Charlie, is not allowed to touch.
One is a dark-finished, 1996 Scotty Cameron Newport that features white, vibration-absorbing dots on the back and a Teryllium insert. Cameron, Titleist’s master craftsman for putters, gave Woods that putter after Woods won his third U.S. Amateur title, and he used it to win the 1997 Masters.
The other is a chrome-finished Newport 2 GSS, the putter Woods used to win his other 13 major titles. Like King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, it has taken on mythical status among equipment lovers.
Woods reached for the Newport 2 GSS in 1999, when he still played Titleist clubs, and won three Masters, three U.S. Opens, three British Opens and four PGA Championships with it. He started experimenting at the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews with a Nike Method putter that he said helped on the slow greens, but by the end of that event the Newport 2 GSS was back. Eventually, the Cameron was replaced by a Nike Method 001.
Cameron told Golfweek before last week’s Hero World Challenge that he has known Tiger since he was a kid playing at the Navy Golf Course in Cypress, Calif. Cameron took lessons from the same pro, John Anselmo, who was working with Woods.
Cameron also said he recently was tipped off that Woods, who turns 41 on Dec. 30, was going to put the Newport 2 GSS back in the bag.
“Prior to the event Tiger pulled out of in October (the Safeway Open), Adam Scott played with Tiger,” Cameron said. “I was with Adam at a gathering in Japan in October, and Adam said, ‘Hey, I just played with Tiger and he’s got the old Cameron original putter in the bag.’ That’s how I knew.”
At the Hero World Challenge, Woods said the decision came quickly when asked when he decided to go back to the Cameron putter.
“The day that we (Nike) were no longer a part of the hardgoods side,” Woods said.
The 34-inch putter is made from German stainless steel (GSS), an ultra-soft material Cameron uses for some putters made for Tour players. The heel-toe weighted blade does not have an alignment line, but Woods requested a single dot on the topline so he can confidently put the ideal hitting area of the face directly behind the ball at address.
Cameron said Woods always liked the feel of the grips on some Ping putters he played as a junior, so he had Ping PP58 grips installed on the Newport 2 GSS over the years. Cameron said his team would submerge the grips in acetone to dissolve the grip’s white paint. Woods has also, in some instances, used a “blackout” version of the Ping putter grip.
Woods also was a stickler when it came to the stiffness of his putter’s shaft.
“We would do different cycles on the shafts to hit the (frequency) numbers, which we decided years ago matched the flex that he likes, with a certain length, flex and head weight,” Cameron said. “I wouldn’t say that Tiger is tough or a pain like some players are – he just knows what he likes. When he asks for something, he just asks that we hit the specs so he doesn’t have to second-guess or think that something’s up.”