If you look through our site, you will find more than one Scotty Cameron review with a handful of common themes. Those themes are that the guy clearly has a knack for making a good looking product, and that the Cameron brand is one of the most polarizing brands in golf with devout fans and mortal enemies alike. With fans willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars (or more) on his products each year, Scotty Cameron clearly has done something right to make his business grow and the loyalists swoon over his creations. Leading the pack of those coveted creations is anything with the infamous Circle T on it. Though the Circle T is supposed to be a mark reserved for Tour Only products, it can be found on a wide variety of Scotty Cameron wares and has become a strong brand of its own. This has made the Circle T significance somewhat blurry in recent years, so we decided to shed some light on it for those looking to gain a little more perspective of Scotty’s “Tour Only” branding.
A Little History of Scotty & the Circle T
Scotty Cameron (real name: Don T. Cameron) was born and raised in California, where he currently bases his operations, and has seen his putters win countless tournaments and more than a major or two. After working with a couple of different brands in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, Cameron went on to launch his own brand of signature putters – the Scotty Cameron Classic line -in 1992. In 1994, Titleist picked up Cameron and that’s where Scotty has been ever since. Though Scotty already had a decent reputation on Tour, things really took off when Tiger Woods started having great success with a couple of Scottys in the late 90’s.
Though Scotty had been producing “Tour Only” putters for quite some time, he began branding his Tour Only putters with a new logo called the Circle T. This logo was essentially a big C with a T inside of it representing “Cameron” and “Tour.” Though originally only used on Tour putters and associated head covers, the Circle T began popping up on apparel sold to the public as well as Scotty’s high-end putters that were made available to consumers through the distributors. It even got to the point where Cameron buyers were able to custom order various “Tour Only” putter models through one of Scotty’s four distributors and request special stamping, including the Circle T, at a premium price point. While Scotty held final discretion on stamping and design, plenty of non-Tour putters began leaking into the secondary market that were never made for, or anywhere near, a Tour. These putters could be branded as “Tour Spec.” Basically, Scotty saw a huge demand for access to the Circle T, and he was smart enough to capitalize on it.
Scotty & Circle T Controversy
As I mentioned, the Circle T mark originally was intended to signify “Tour Only” on Scotty Cameron putters, but the market started seeing all sorts of putters and other Cameron objects with so-called “Tour Only” branding. It really is a piece of marketing genius by Scotty and Co. Though the apparel sells for a moderate price, the inclusion of a Circle T stamp or engraving on any putter drives the price through the roof. For example, you will see a putter that is the exact same as the $350 retail version, except the Tour Only putter has a Circle T engraved on it so the price tag falls somewhere between $1500 and $2500. Frankly, that’s brilliant on Scotty’s part. Scotty has even gone so far as to open a store in California to make these Circle T products even more readily available. It’s true, some of the putters on the wall at the store have actually been returned by the reps on Tour, but most of what you see has been made solely to sell at the store, not to go on Tour. While I don’t begrudge Scotty making these products available to the public, it’s not fair to say the Circle T is anywhere close to Tour Only branding.
With great success always comes the faction of opposers that are quick to cast negative light and unearth any gory details of your past, and Scotty is no exception. Scotty will often be criticized for copying other famous designs like the Ping Anser and Ping Anser 2, or even the Odyssey #7 mallet, but Scotty doesn’t try to tell anyone that he isn’t “inspired” by great designers before him. Let’s also be honest, there are plenty of other putter makers copying classic designs, so we can’t say it’s wrong of Scotty to do the same, even with the premium price tags that are associated with his putters.
Is the Circle T Worth It?
The million dollar question – is it worth investing in a Scotty Cameron Cirle T/Tour putter? There’s no easy answer to this. For me, it is an easy answer, and the answer is no. However, if you have the money and your heart is set on it, the world of premium Scotty Cameron may be exactly what you’re looking for. Many people will agree with you, that if you take the dollar signs out of the equation, the Scotty Cameron “Tour” putters are cool high-end putters and typically high quality. I’ll speak from a personal perspective and say that the “non-standard” Tour putters I have come across have been very nice putters and performed well. That said, if you’re looking to make an economical choice and have the same level of performance (in some cases, significantly better), then there are other boutique putter makers out there making really great putters with better materials, better craftsmanship, and more customization to the player’s wants and needs. I will put my Black Lab BL-2 Prototype up against any Tour Cameron any day of the week, and putter makers like Xenon are coming up with original designs with premium materials and superior performance that are worth considering.
So the short answer is, I can’t make the decision for you, but I can tell you that you are going to be paying a premium for a label and hype, whereas putters with superior quality and performance are readily available in the market and should certainly be considered. Just because it says Scotty Cameron on it, doesn’t mean it’s the best.
Buyer beware: as with any high end, in demand product, Scotty Cameron Circle T products are often counterfeited. Though a fraction of actual market prices, these knock-offs will often still be expensive but of extremely poor quality. Should you make the choice to invest in the high-end Cameron market, do your research and make sure you are buying from a trusted seller and that the product is legitimate. Remember, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
Circle T Alternatives
In the event that you were in the market for a high-end putter and thought a Cameron Tour putter was in your future, but now you aren’t sure, we can provide a great list of alternative brands that will be considerably more affordable and potentially much better quality. Many of these brands will also work to give you exactly what you want and have a good portion of control in the creative process. Of course, there are many more options out there, but I’ve highlighted a few of my current favorites below.
Xenon Golf Company: The most original designs and custom putters on the market right now. Every putter that leaves “the shed” has Lump’s personal touch added to it, and many are even hand milled by the man himself in Nashville, Tennessee. You can’t go wrong with a Xenon and there is literally no limit to the design process. Compared to the market, the pricing is also very reasonable.
Black Lab Golf: Classic and traditional, Chip Usher is not looking to reinvent the wheel or make a fortune as the new big putter game in town with his rebirth as Black Lab Golf. Chip likes to make putters that are special to his customers and are ultimately of extremely high quality. His prices are as good as you are going to get for a one-piece milled putter made and finished to your specs. Chip’s Black Lab BL-2 Prototype putter is my current number one gamer. Chip is a true pleasure to work with and will make sure you walk away happy.
BPutters: A fine boutique offering straight out of Italy, BPutters have extremely artistic designs with an elegant finish just like you would expect out of Italy. With remarkable attention to detail and a strong focus on high-end quality, BPutters is certainly worth taking a look at in the current boutique putter game. Read our review here.
Byron Morgan: An OG in the California putter making scene, Byron Morgan has established himself as one of the most respected boutique putter makers in the game. Byron is basically a one man operation that does all of the work himself except for a few finish options that he has to outsource. Byron is often credited with the best Anser tribute in his Dale Head 89 head, and is considered one of the best #1 shapes around. If you’re in the market for an extremely custom 1 of 1 classic putter, Byron is your guy. Byron is an old school laid back Huntington Beach surfer guy and the overall vibe is very unique.
Look, Scotty Cameron does make a good putter, and some of the coolest putters I have ever seen have come out of his shop. At the same time, some of the absolute worst putters I have ever seen and most ridiculous price tags have also come out of his shop. Scotty has largely capitalized on a collector’s community that is willing to pay a premium price, often times for impractical equipment that may not even be usable. The biggest take away from this article should be that you need to be exactly sure of what you want to buy, what you’re willing to spend, and what the best option to fulfill those needs would be. If that ends up being a $4000 Scotty Cameron 009 or Timeless putter, that’s awesome. Just make sure you look around at some of the other great putter makers out there and keep an open mind.