During his recent comeback, the strongest part of Tiger Woods’ game has been his putting. He ranks fourth on Tour in one-putt percentage (45.06 percent), 13th in three-putt avoidance (1.85 percent), 18th in putting from inside 10 feet (89.77 percent) and 14th in strokes gained: putting (0.739).
Not too shabby for a 42-year-old who effectively had been away from competitive golf for three years and had multiple back surgeries.
Woods has used a Scotty Cameron putter to win all 14 of his major championships. At the 1997 Masters, he used a black-finished Scotty Cameron Newport Teryllium TeI3 with white vibration-dampening dots on the back, but for his other 13 titles Woods used a custom Newport 2.
Cameron has made heel-toe weighted blade putters such as Woods’ since before he joined Titleist in 1994. The first Newport putter was part of the Classics family in 1995, and like the other Classics that year—the Catalina, Coronado, Del Mar, La Costa, Laguna and Napa—it was named after a town in California.
The first Newport 2 was made available in 1997. The main difference between Newport and Newport 2 putters is the look at address: Newport putters have rounder lines, while the back bumpers and edges of the Newport 2 putter are sharper for players who like a mechanical look.
Newport 2 putters from the late ’90s were 35 inches long and had a plumber’s neck to create a small amount of toe hang, along with a dark finish. They came standard with 4 degrees of loft, a 71-degree lie angle and a single alignment line.
Woods put his now-famous custom Newport 2 into play in 1999. While the basic shape has not changed much over the years, there are significant differences between Studio Newport 2 putters available at retail and the putter Woods uses.
Woods’ Newport 2 is made from German Stainless Steel (GSS), a very expensive material Cameron only uses on putters that are going to be used by professionals or sold in his gallery in Encinitas, Calif. It has a slightly softer feel at impact, but Cameron has said on many occasions that it would not be practical to use GSS in retail putters because many recreational golfers would not feel a significant difference, and using GSS would substantially increase the price.
The Select Newport 2 you can buy in stores today is made from 303 stainless steel. Numerous pros on the PGA Tour use Scotty Cameron putters that are made from 303 stainless steel, and Cameron prefers it for retail putters because it delivers a soft feel and looks good when polished but is not excessively expensive.
The face of Woods’ Newport 2 was milled and then made smooth, but starting in 2005 with the Studio Style line, the milling pattern in putters such as the Newport 2 became more pronounced. Like corduroy pants, if you pull your finger across the face of a modern Scotty Cameron Newport, you will hear a zipping sound. The circular milling patterns are created by the machines as they shave off ribbons of material while shaping and honing the hitting surface.
Today’s Select Newport 2 not only features milling patterns, it also has a 303 stainless steel face insert. Using a face insert allowed Cameron to add vibration-dampening material inside the head to enhance sound and feel.
When it was new, Woods’ Newport 2 putter weighed 326 grams. At the time, that weight would have been considered typical for a 35-inch putter. Many consumers today are showing a preference for heavier putters, so the current Studio Newport 2 weighs 345 grams.
Since 2008, Newport 2 putters have been designed with adjustable weights in the sole. They are not designed to be changed by golfers, but custom fitters and technicians in the factory can change the weights using a tool. The same head can be modified so the overall weight and swing weight can be adjusted based on the putter’s length and player preferences.
Woods’ Newport 2 has a single dot on the top line that helps him put the sweet spot directly behind the center of the ball. Today’s Studio Newport putters come with a single black alignment line on the back flange.
Woods does not use a Scotty Cameron putter grip. Instead, he has preferred a Ping PP58 grip for years. It is the same grip that was fitted to the Ping Anser 2 putters Woods used as a junior.
Today’s Studio Newport 2 putters come standard with an 11-inch, mid-size Matador grip that weighs 77 grams. The larger, heavier grip matches the heavier head and aligns with the trend to larger putter grips.
Even a good custom fitter can’t change the materials used to make a putter, but he or she can do a lot to personalize your flat stick. Grips can be changed, alignment aids can be added or modified, and a putter’s weight can be tweaked. So while you probably will never win 14 majors, with the help of a good fitter and the right putter, you certainly will give yourself a better chance of holing more putts and lowering your scores.