By Jim Butler
In the mid 1970’s, I bought from a second hand store a MacGregor GB-1 George Bayer driver with a key hole insert for $5.00. I took it to a club repair shop in Columbus, Ohio to have it refinished. After a couple of weeks, the shop called me and said it was finished and a Japanese customer saw it and wanted to buy it and had offered $400.00. At that point I wondered why it was worth $400.00 to someone, so this started my journey into the club collecting world.
So we went to pawn shops, Goodwill stores, golf shops, thrift stores, golf shows and anywhere golf clubs would be found. Needless to say, some were quite interesting. At the Indianapolis golf show I met Bob Kent. Bob traveled with the PGA Tour and bought and sold classic clubs to many of the players. Andy Bean, Mike Hulbert, Fulton Allem were a few pros that Bob bought and sold from. Bob and I became very good friends over time and he was a wealth of knowledge. He was a soft spoken man and he taught me all about MacGregor, Wilson, Spalding and Ping collectibles. In the late 1980’s Bob became ill and I bought his entire inventory and brought it to Table Rock Golf Club and built a room to house them and it became a destination for people to find woods, irons, wedges and putters.
The classic business was very good. Kathy and I dragged our kids, Jeff and Kelly around to many golf shows during the winter circuit.
Then in 1992 I was selling clubs in Augusta at gate 5 of the Masters. That was when I met Scotty Cameron. He was a very young man just starting out making a line of putters. I really liked his work and I bought his putters and they were $200.00 each! Now in those days, Ping putters sold for $25.00-$45.00 retail, so bringing a Scotty Cameron black carbon steel putter to a show and asking $350.00 for them, made it a hard sell.
So our break came when Bernard Langer won the 1993 Masters with a Cameron Classic I and that made the front page of the USA Today. Golfers wanted to buy a Cameron putter and Table Rock had Scotty’s entire inventory. This started a 22 year career of selling Scotty’s tour putters. It was a wonderful relationship. In 2014 Scotty wanted his shops around the world to be the only carrier of his tour putters and our distributorship ended.
This all has led me to July 2018 when I decided to design and manufacture my own brand of putters. Thus JMI Putters was born. I wanted to build my version of the classic putters made by Ping, Wilson, Spalding and Cameron over the last 35 years. When thinking about a name, Kathy wanted to somehow link her Dad into it. He was the reason that Table Rock Golf Club was built and he was a tool and die maker, way before CNC machines and he had a factory that was named Johnstown Manufacturing, Incorporated and we always called it JMI for short. Now JMI (stands for “Just my Input”) made its debut at the 2019 PGA Show.
All of my putters have a welded neck and are hand shaped and hand stamped by me. They are made out of stainless steel and are available in raw finish, black oxide, a flamed finish and two shades of gold. We manufacture them in Apopka, Florida.
To give you a background on the model names they are named after our grandsons, Finn, Ronan, Reagan and Shea. The mallet was named after Kathy’s dad, Clifford Wayne Lynn, it is The C.W. model. Cliff always putted with an Otey Chrisman mallet.
These are not like the perfect CNC putters that most everyone has out, they are unique, a lot of hand work goes into each and every one of them. I can build a custom putter to your needs and our models are; Finnro, Finnro 2, Reashea, Reashea 2 and a mallet The C.W.