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James Ingles resurrects custom putter brand

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Everybody loves a comeback story. Ben Hogan post-1949. Tiger Woods post-2009. You remember the first act and are now given a glimpse at what a second act could become. It’s a chance to reimagine and build on success. While the reason James Ingles Putters has been placed on hiatus for the last five years isn’t exactly “rock and roll,” they are indeed back on the market and ready to deliver. If you’re in the dark on James Ingles Putters’ history and/or why they’re back, here’s the story…

James Ingles started playing golf when he was 14 years old in 1997, which was an exciting time in golf, especially in the world of equipment and putters more specifically. Around that time, he purchased a special edition Scotty Cameron putter, which was inspired by David Duval, who was his favorite player at the time. He rushed home excited to show the new flatstick to his dad. His dad proceeded to look it over and sort of brushed it off as just a machine-made, milled steel putter. There were probably thousands of others just like it.

Heel-shafted blade 28g James Ingles Putter made from a copper alloy called Coldur A

That may be a curious reaction to most people, but as it turns out, James’ father has a unique frame of reference for this sort of thing. At that time in 1997, he happened to own Charles Hellis & Sons, a bespoke gunsmith in the London area (about 18 months ago he sold the business and retired). In his trade, no two items are alike. They begin with a quality forging and are then finished by hand to the customer’s specific requests. Shotguns from makers in and around London are known all over the world for their craftsmanship and attention to detail. It also happens that a lot of the steps in the gun making process actually transfer quite well to making putters.

In 2009, James approached the head gunsmith at Hellis and asked him if it was possible to make a putter in-house. That conversation started the development of James’ first putter, an 8802-style blade known as his 28g model. James uses the same forging house as Charles Hellis, which has been in business since 1904 and served many industries over the years. Hand engraving, when requested by the customer, is done by independent third-party engravers who also serve the local shotgun industry.

“I’d been around Hellis since my early teens, so I had at least seen and therefore had an appreciation for the machining and hand engraving that goes into shotgun manufacturing.  I spent a lot of time on the aesthetics of that first putter because I really wanted to get that right.  We knew there was going to be a fair amount of handwork involved in finishing the putter after the forging, but ensuring the overall shape of that forging was absolutely critical.”

Custom heel-toe weighted blade putter with hand engraving from James Ingles Putters

It’s worth taking a quick pause to point out an important distinction. There are loads of high-quality CNC milled putters today, which are milled by a computer to exacting tolerances from a 3D CAD model (think Tyson Lamb, Logan Olson, and the like). The “old fashioned” way many putter makers (such as T.P. Mills and his contemporaries) would have crafted their putters would have been start-to-finish on a hand-operated milling machine. One of the things that sets James’ putters apart is that they are first forged into a rough shape (not dissimilar to the way many forged irons are made) and then milled by hand into the finished product. This isn’t to say one method is objectively better or worse than another, only that they perhaps may arrive at a different result and may be for different customers.

“When we first came to market, everything we sold was direct to the consumer.  The golf industry was quite different in those days, so if you wanted to be competitive, you had to keep cost and margins as low as possible.  Then we started to partner with Scratch in 2013, which made sense for a lot of reasons.  Essentially, Scratch would work with the customer to define specifications and such.  They would send us that information and we would make the putters.  When Scratch went under in 2015, there were a host of other things going on in my life, though.  My first child had just been born and I had a full-time career as well, so going back to the way things were didn’t make sense.  I didn’t have the capability to have everything go directly through me anymore, so we made the decision to kind of shut things down for a while.”

Custom James Ingles Putter Covers

For the last five years, James’ life has mainly been focused on raising his two young kids and making a living as a building surveyor. By his own admission, he hadn’t even been playing much golf and had instead taken up long-distance running. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic started taking hold, and he started to introduce his now-five-year-old son to golf.

“We had gone to the driving range and Jude was having lots of fun hitting golf balls.  I also started to realize I could actually find the middle of the club face every now and again, so that was promising.  I then took him to the local pitch-and-putt and all of a sudden, all of my enjoyment for golf really just started flooding back.  I started an Instagram account for the golf business [@jamesinglesputters by the way] and posted pictures of Jude and I playing and also pictures of old putters I’d found lying around my garage.  Loads of people started commenting and messaging and it just felt like there was some unfinished business there.  Ultimately, I suppose that’s why we’re launching the business again and you and I are having this conversation.”

James Ingles putters have two main forgings that they can work from: the aforementioned 28g and also the 12g, a traditional heel-toe weighted blade design which can be finished in a number of ways depending on the customer’s preference. They are also capable of milling custom shapes from billet steel.  In addition to putters, James will be doing many small runs of accessories such as putter covers, ball markers, and divot tools.  All information can be found on his new website.

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Peter Schmitt is an avid golfer trying to get better every day, the definition of which changes relatively frequently. He believes that first and foremost, golf should be an enjoyable experience. Always. Peter is a former Marine and a full-time mechanical engineer (outside of the golf industry). He lives in Lexington, KY with his wife and two young kids. "What other people may find in poetry or art museums, I find in the flight of a good drive." -Arnold Palmer

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  1. JP

    Oct 29, 2020 at 1:06 am

    Where do I send the money?!?

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Whats in the Bag

Charles Barkley WITB: The Match 3

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Driver: Callaway BB21 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Ventus Blue 6 X (@46.5″)

3-wood: Callaway BB21 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Ventus Blue 7 X (@44″)

Hybrid: Callaway Mavrik (19 degrees)

Irons: PXG

Wedges: PXG

Putter: PXG

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Whats in the Bag

Peyton Manning WITB: The Match 3

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Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD TP 6 X

3-wood: Callaway Rogue

Irons: Callaway Mavrik Pro (3-PW)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper Lite 110 S

Wedges: Callaway Jaws MD5 (50-10S, 56-10S, 60-10S)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper Lite 110 S

Putter: Scotty Cameron SB+

Ball: Bridgestone Tour B XS with #18

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Equipment

What GolfWRXers are saying about the best 3-woods for a high handicapper

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In our forums, our members have been looking at 3-woods for high handicap players. WRXer ‘Metro07’ is very much a Cobra guy but is open to other suggestions, saying:

“I am 53 and not a long hitter so I obviously don’t have a fast or even moderate swing speed. I got back into golf 5 or 6 months ago after being out for many years and was never really that good back then, I still haven’t broken 100 on a real course. I’m hitting my 4 iron about 175 carry.”

And our members have been sharing their thoughts in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

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Entire Thread: “3-woods for a high handicapper?”

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