Blog Pro Shop Tom Slighter

The History of Slighter Golf | Thoughts from the Pro Shop

I started working on golf clubs in 1990.

Every time I wanted some custom work done on my clubs I visited a local club repair guy at his small shop in Salem, OR.  I decided to re-shaft my own clubs and ordered components from Golfsmith.  I slowly built up my own shop and began doing repair work and custom finishing for my home course, Salem Golf Club.

I made a few bucks on this new gig and was able to get some free golf.  I was working for State Farm Insurance and they transferred me to the Washington in 1998.  After moving to the Seattle I noticed there were several established golf repair shops and did not want to compete with them.  I began following this auction site my wife mentioned to me called eBay.  I had about 40 putters in my collection and decided to sell them all on eBay to pay off some debt that I accumulated with our move to Washington. I was really impressed how quickly they sold on eBay.

While selling my putters on eBay I began to follow the putter trend.  At this time, Cameron putters maybe had one page of eBay auctions going on at one time.  I took a chance and purchased a new Scotty Cameron Newport Two Pro Platinum for $178.95 which was a lot of money for me back then.  I did some custom refinish work on that putter and sold it to a gentleman in Japan for $585.00.  I then went out to all the golf shops in the Seattle area and began purchasing Cameron putters.  I worked on them and sold them on eBay.  I began receiving special requests from people all over the world to work on their putters after seeing my auctions on eBay.

This was a pretty lucrative venture I happened in to which then triggered my curiosity about making my own putters.  I started my search for a machinist to help me design and make my own putters.  Most all the machinists I contacted were not interested in helping me make putters.  I finally found a machinist about an hour away from my home who was willing to assist me.  In 2001, I designed my first putter and named it “Slighter Seattle”.  It was a tribute to the Pacific Northwest opposed to Cameron’s choice of California names for his putters.  I auctioned my first Slighter Seattle putter on eBay in 2002 and it sold for $289.00.  I made a total of 27 of the Slighter Seattle putters and the rest sold fairly quickly.  I then began designing my next putter called the Slighter Tacoma, then the Slighter Bellevue, Slighter Redmond, etc.

I was hooked.

I began to learn how to make the putters by observing my machinist.  He helped me learn the art of machining which prompted me to purchase my first milling machine.  I began honing my skills with the milling machine in my garage. I began purchasing all sorts of equipment that completely jam packed my 3 ½ car garage with machines and tools.  I became very proficient at hand crafting putters in a short time.  After learning all the tricks of the trade I was no longer sourcing out work, but rather doing all work myself.  The only areas I lacked skill was the CAD/CAM or programming and tooling the CNC machines.  All while I was making my own putters I continued to refinish other putters.  Refinishing putters has and will always be a passion of mine.  Refinishing putters was the start of Slighter Golf and will always be a part of Slighter Golf.  The art of taking an old tired putter and refinishing it to its former glory will always be a true enjoyment of mine.

It is truly amazing for me to have met so many interesting people through Slighter Golf.  A gift I will always cherish the rest of my life.  I have been blessed to work with professionals in all aspects of life.  I have had the privilege to work with Stephen Curry, Paul Casey, Kenny Perry, and Matt Kuchar to name a few.  I have met good friends like LaMont Mann (Mannkrafted Putters), Jason Smith (my partner), Jeremy Camp (FST/KBS), Erik Stone (golf instructor), also to name a few.

One of my true pleasures was working with a 14 year old golfer who saved every penny just for me to build him a Slighter putter.  What a true honor to say the least.