At first glance, there’s nothing particularly flashy about Kevin Peterson and his small metal milling shop nestled into a suburban industrial park in northern Santa Diego County. But if you dig a little deeper, you will discover that there’s more than meets the immediate eye. Indeed, for many years, Peterson has quietly helped produce some of the finest putters in the United States on behalf of some of the top boutique putter brands. Along the way, he had an idea for his own personal creation—a line of limited-edition, finely milled putters featuring custom artwork on the face. After coming up with the initial design and concept, it took him three years to perfect his vision and introduce his own line, starting with the stunning Liberty putter under the banner of Peterson Fine Mill. The Liberty putter boasts artful renderings of Old Glory, the Statue of Liberty, the American bald eagle and the magnificent words of the U.S. Constitution: “We the people…”
Now Peterson has released another version of the Liberty putter milled from pure copper (pictured above), exhibiting both craftsmanship and showmanship. PutterZone.com recently caught up with Peterson to discuss his latest creation, and to learn more about the origins of the Liberty putter and future of Peterson Fine Mill. Following is our exclusive interview:
What was the driving inspiration behind your original Liberty putter—and can you describe what makes it special in terms of material, design and detail?
Of all the concepts we could have chosen, we felt that Liberty was the perfect flagship to anchor the Peterson Fine Mill brand. Liberty is what makes this country great, so there wasn’t a better edition to start off with. Of course, it is also fitting, since our company is 100 percent made in the United States. Our standard is to use only genuine materials such as our leather grips and sheepskin-lined leather head covers, and to have these pieces made by hand in America by the most talented leather craftsman we could find. The putter is made with experienced precision, and the artwork, which sets it apart, is meticulously designed, programmed and milled in a lengthy process that is unparalleled.
You have now released an all-copper version of the Liberty putter under the banner of Collectible Series. Why did you make an all-copper version, and what’s different about working with copper compared to steel?
Moving forward, you will find that the Collectible Series will offer creative components and materials that are appropriate for each edition. While the series made its debut with the Solid Copper Edition of Liberty, that material is specific to that putter. Since Lady Liberty herself is made out of copper, it seemed only fitting that we use that material in honor of her. Copper is a much softer metal and more challenging to work with. It wants to push out of the way when it’s being cut instead of holding firm. It’s a beautiful semi-precious metal and complements the Liberty Edition perfectly, but just that much more limited in quantity. It is our dream to make our Investment Series putters out of solid precious metals, and we’re growing in that direction, as well as to offer commissioned editions for special events, companies, and landmarked locations, such as notable golf courses.
The cost of your putters—$1,500 for the stainless steel, $2,500 for the copper—is going to raise some eyebrows. Do you view your putters mainly as collectibles and heirlooms, or as something really cool to stick in the bag?
We would hope that seeing the putters themselves would raise the eyebrows. Our concept was to take the putter, a piece of equipment that already has a collectible appeal, and to invest the time and quality in it to make it a work of art that warrants itself as luxury item appropriate for special occasions. Having more varied experience crafting putters than probably anyone else in the world, we combined our strengths in milling top-of-the-line performance putters with our creativity in artwork, design, and attention to detail. We want to create putters where the added worth was in the exquisite milling work itself, as opposed to just hand stamping or hand grinding. Our pieces take a tremendous amount of time in the upfront conceptualization, design, and programming, not to mention substantially more time on the mill itself. As far as what our customers do with the pieces, it’s entirely a matter of personal choice. Some people buy a Bentley to showcase in their garage while others choose to drive it around town. Our putters certainly have the performance potential to win the Masters, though we imagine that it’s more likely that a custom edition would be presented as part of the winning prize.
What’s next from Peterson Fine Mill?
Currently, we are actively working on the next fine art edition and have others in the conceptualization stage. We’re also excited to introduce our new stylish sport line that will feature mainstream putters at a lower price point. Both will be released in 2012.
Thanks to Kevin and his wife Kim for sharing their latest news with PutterZone.com. Stay tuned for more on Peterson Fine Mill in the coming year.