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Golf Week

February 2009
Article: Oldies but goodies

Slotline Putter SL-583

The PGA Merchandise Show last month in Orlando, Fla., brought with it an overpowering sense of nostalgia.

Among the prominent exhibitors were three grand companies – Ping, T.P. Mills and Slotline – offering new clubs with an old story behind them.

In Redwood City, Calif., in 1959, Karsten Solheim founded Ping in his garage. Two years later in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Truett P. (T.P.) Mills started making putters in his garage. In 1972, Clovis (Duke) Duclos launched Slotline putters from his home in Long Beach, Calif.

All three were amateur golfers who loved the game. Solheim and Duclos were engineers – Solheim with General Electric, Duclos with McDonnell Douglas. Mills was an aviation instructor and mail carrier. Two of the three have died, Solheim in 2000 and Mills in 2006.

Ping grew into a major club manufacturer, while T.P. Mills intentionally remained small. Slotline disappeared for several years before returning this year under the banner of Dynamic Brands, parent of the Bag Boy Co.

The saga of Ping is well-known, but the stories of T.P. Mills and Slotline are unfamiliar to many golfers.

Mills, sometimes called the “father of milled putters,” vowed to produce nothing but handmade putters. Today his son, David, carries on the family tradition.

Ken Venturi, Jerry Pate and Hale Irwin used T.P. Mills putters to win the U.S. Open. Bernhard Langer carried one in his first Masters victory. Phil Mickelson has used a Mill putter to win on Tour.

Slotline Putter SL-781 For a short time in the 1980s, Slotline was a popular putter. Duclos took the concept of heel and toe weighting, pioneered by Solheim, and expanded it with what he called “Inertial weighting.”

Because of this concept of extreme perimeter weighting, Duclos has at times been called the “father of high MOI” (moment of inertia, or resistance to twisting).

Slotline 2009 putters
The skinny: Slotline showcased 14 new putters in three families at the Show. The SL-700 putters are milled from 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum and are weighted and balanced with tungsten; the SL-500 putters reproduce the original Slotline Inertial design with an aluminum body; and the SL-300 putters feature “classic profiles” from stainless steel.

All three models include the “slot” and “line” alignment aids that gave the brand its name.

Cost: $179.95 (SL-700), $159.95 (SL-500), $99.95 (SL-300) MSRP.
Availability: Immediate