The story behind Tiger Woods’ ‘secret gamer’ putter
Tiger Woods’ connection to his Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS putter is well documented. Outside of the 1997 Masters, the remaining 14 major titles on his resume were won with a putter that’s currently riddled with dings and features a prominent wear spot in the middle of the face from decades of use.
To many gearheads, it’s simply known as the “Elder Wand” — a magical putter that would likely fetch more than $10 million if it ever hit the auction block. The chances of that happening are as good as a 15-handicap winning the Masters, but that hasn’t stopped backup versions of Woods’ famous putter from hitting the open market in recent years.
This includes a carbon copy of Woods’ gamer — minus the initials on the toe — that sold for nearly $400k in 2021. At the time, it was the most money a Woods backup putter had ever fetched, but that could be changing in the not-too-distant future.
According to golf auction house Golden Age, a new Woods backup (dubbed the “Secret Gamer”) with a fascinating backstory has the potential to go for big money due to one important distinction.
The Newport 2 GSS currently on the auction block used to belong to a Scotty Cameron distributor by the name of Rand Pallis — the putter has since changed hands privately on multiple occasions over the years — who reportedly received the putter directly from Cameron himself years ago.
Go back and look at previous Woods backups and you’ll notice all of them come with a certificate of authenticity from Cameron stating the putter was “Made for Tiger Woods.” It’s a distinction only a handful of Cameron putters in the world can boast of having.
But here’s where things get interesting with this particular putter. (Before we proceed, it’s important to note Golden Age was never able to substantiate the claims, so take everything with a grain of salt.)
“As the (admittedly unconfirmed) story that follows this putter goes, Tiger Woods once, during a moment of frustration, caused damage to his famous red dot gamer,” the auction house states. “The putter was rushed to Scotty Cameron to perform the necessary repairs. During the few days it was out of Tiger’s possession, he was forced to put another red dot putter into play — supposedly the very red dot putter offered in this auction.”
So how would anyone be able to tell this putter apart from other Woods backups? Take a look at the COA. When Pallis came into possession of the putter, he sent it back to Cameron for an official COA, in 2015, which eventually arrived with an unexpected callout.
“The COA came back with the curious (and important) description of Tiger Woods’ ‘Very rare actual backup putter.’ Scotty Cameron deliberately chose to indicate that this was no ordinary backup putter made for Tiger Woods, but instead was Tiger’s actual backup putter. If true, this putter may one day become the first Scotty Cameron putter to eclipse the $1 million mark.”
One look at the putter and it’s easy to see the backup shares many traits with Woods’ gamer, including a blacked-out Ping PP58 grip and the unmistakable tri-sole design. One Cameron collector told Golden Age founder Ryan Carey that “7 or so genuine Tiger red dot backups” exist on the planet. But this is the only one carrying the “Very rare actual backup putter” distinction.
Similar to the set of photo-matched Titleist irons and wedges from the “Tiger Slam” that sold for over $5 million, this putter possesses a mystique that’ll surely hook a number of willing bidders.
Cameron hasn’t come forth to confirm if the story is legitimate, but if he’s putting the words “Very rare actual backup putter” on a COA, it’s safe to assume this isn’t your standard Woods wand. We’ll have to wait two weeks to see if those words help the putter break another Woods backup record.
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