Space-age putter banned

R&A says no to Titleist Futura outside US

Bob Warters's picture
Wed, 27 Nov 2002
Space-age putter banned
Space-age putter banned
Space-age Futura.

Titleist – the makers of the Scotty Cameron Newport putter that Tiger Woods uses – have been rattled by a new R&A ruling, banning the introduction of their latest Futura model.

Already in the hands of one of the world’s greatest putting exponents Phil Mickelson, the club which looks like a cross between the Spaceship Enterprise and a complicated piece of plumbing, has already been cleared by rivals the United States Golf Association.

However, according to reports coming out of the US, it has been turned down by the St Andrews-based body because of its failure to be ‘plain in shape.’

In an effort to avoid upsetting the judges of conformity at the Scottish headquarters, Titleist are remaining tight-lipped on the issue but are obviously a little miffed that their revolutionary club should be turned away while the likes of Callaway’s ground-breaking Odyssey Two-ball putter should be accepted.

Others used by the likes of Jesper Parnevik, Paul Azinger, Rich Beem and Delroy Cambridge might also have been queried.

Scotty Cameron revealed recently that he had been working on the Futura for five years, but had been stumped on how to match the looks with the performance.

"I wanted to get the weight back from the face and put it at the equator of the ball. I also wanted the ability to adjust the loft if needed because conditions and players vary greatly. Taking a block of metal and then getting it to do these things optimally is the challenge," he said.

Timing was also an issue because this design would be a significant departure from the Newport styles and all the blade styles, and there are times when players are more receptive to new looks.

"Also, we wanted a solid, medium-toned sound that is difficult to achieve with aluminum because it has a tendency to be ‘tinny.’"

At the US PGA Championship in August, Cameron had 12 examples which were taken out of his hands by fascinated competitors before he reached the practice putting green. He claimed one player holed 12 in a row from eight feet as soon as he got hold of it.

"I would show them how to change and re-set loft, the effects of weight distribution, how to add weight if needed, and so on," he revealed.

"This project has taken nearly five years from conception to prototype production and now the Futura is making its way out to the Tour."

Not in Europe and the rest of the world (apart from the US and Mexico) if the R&A has its way.

They don’t like the look of this mallet with holes in its head and a bar that sweeps around the back of the putter. They say it does not conform to Rule 4-1a which states that clubs must look ‘traditional and customary,’ despite it getting an immediate stamp of approval from the USGA.

It seems this is the latest spat in the tussle between the golf world’s two ruling bodies that is unlikely to be resolved until someone – like the PGA and European Tours bangs their heads together to form one joint organisation for the good of the game.

Meanwhile the Titleist Futura is caught in the middle of a barmy dispute.

*The USGA has bought one of Manhatten famous landmarks - the 80-year-old Russian Tea Room - to turn it into a New York golf museum. The building, next to Carnegie Hall, cost $16million and will be renovated be used to display artefacts and interactive presentations of golf history and future of the game.

*Following its launch of the Louisville Golf True Blue mallet putter - complete with stars and stripes flag on the club head to commemorate September 11, 2001 - the company is now making putters with badges of the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. The cost is $99.