Review: Tom Slighter Mini Custom Damascus Putter

Good things come to those who wait
Getting a custom putter is often a very difficult wait.  The excitement begins when you first contact the putter company, it continues through the design and finalization process and then you wait, and sometimes those weeks seem to really drag on as you wait for this putter to find its new home.  The Slighter Damascus might be one of the longest putter projects around.  Maybe not quite Guinness Book of World Records long, but years not weeks for this putter.

I’ll take you back to day one and bring you to the Slighter Damascus that is in my hands as I write this.  It started in October 2008.  This was my first official contact with Tom Slighter.  I have always been impressed with Tom Slighter putters.  The look of his more standard putters just oozed of quality and class.  But at the time we were going into winter here in the Midwest and Tom was busy with other putters.  In February of 2009 I saw a couple of Damascus putters that got me thinking that if I could track down some metal, I could get Tom to make me one.  So after a number of posts here and there, I received an email from Steven Moreno, the son-in-law of Ellis Sloan, a blacksmith.  He thought he could get his father-in-law to forge a billet of Damascus for me.  After a handful of emails back and forth we settled on a Carbon/stainless billet.  This is not exactly run of the mill stuff.  Normally, Ellis makes Damascus steel for collector knives, which is a much thinner billet.  So after hours and hours of hot forging in the AZ desert I received my two billets in April 2009.  Now the next step would take some time.  Tom Slighter was really backed up with other putters.  In October I took a little vacation to Seattle and stopped in to visit Tom. I forgot the billets at home, so I shipped them out when I got home in November 2009.

Upon inspection, Tom wasn’t even sure if he could use them, they were a touch smaller than he was used to working on.  It wasn’t big enough for a normal Portland or Tacoma, which was just fine with me, since I really wanted a “mini” style putter.  After numerous emails back and forth we came up with the basic head shape that is a ¾ version of a Portland/Tacoma head.  Next came the hosel, this billet too was a touch smaller than needed for a normal plumbers neck, but again that was OK with me as long as we could get a small plumbers neck milled.  Tom was able to make a shaft over plumber’s neck by welding in a post on top of the hosel.   The stamping was going to be minimal since the real beauty was the metal.  Slighter Damascus around the Space Needle stamp on the face, and Slighter in Japanese in the Cavity.    The milling, stamping and welding were finally completed in March.  But at this point the putter looked like polished metal.  Back off to the AZ desert for the etching process which brings back the metals natural folds and waves.  Ellis Sloan, a real metal master etched his logo on a bumper before the putter’s return trip to MN in May.  Finally on May 29th 2010 the first and only Slighter Damascus Putter, made to 34”, head weight 350grams, 4 degrees loft, 71* lie angle, white paintfill, a stepless steel shaft and topped with a white grip master grip, found the putting surface.

With so much time, money and effort invested would it be a big let down?  I was so nervous putting with this putter, because what if it didn’t work, what if I couldn’t putt into a hula-hoop with this thing?  I guess the saying “good things come to those who wait” is true.  This thing has been the best putter in my bag bar none.  It simply puts the ball in the bottom of the cup.  The milled face and metal combination feels near perfect.  It has a crisp yet soft feel.  The balance is perfect.  The ball just rolls smoothly off the face.  The smaller compact head with a single sightline make long putts easy to line up and shorts putts like gimmees.  Following each round, this putter gets a good wipe down with a silicone cloth to keep the carbon streaks from rusting.

It was a long wait, but the metal work by Ellis Sloan is amazing and the artistry by Tom Slighter in hand crafting this putter is second to none.  If you don’t mind waiting, a custom putter might be for you.  Remember:
Good things come to those who wait!

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