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North Vancouver golf club maker takes aim at high-end putter market

Scotty Cameron is famous for putting his U.S.-made putters in the hands of champions like Tiger Woods. Cove Golf aims to make the same calibre of club in Canada

Martin Novak wants to be the Scotty Cameron of Canada.

Hailing from Glendale, Calif., Cameron’s putters are some of the most decorated in professional golf history, and have famously rested between the palms of Tiger Woods for 15 major championship wins.

From his shop in North Vancouver, Novak, with his newly launched brand Cove Golf, is looking to get his clubs in the hands of big-name pros and the scores of other golfers looking to shave strokes off their game.

Though built from different backgrounds, Cameron and Novak share a similar design philosophy: machine milling clubheads from blocks of solid metal. Compared to the less-expensive alternative of pouring molten material into a cast – which can lead to inconsistencies when the metal cools – milled putters offer seasoned players a more reliable stroke, or at least that’s the hope.

A machinist by trade, Novak took an interest in golf after immigrating to Canada from the Czech Republic 10 years ago. His putter-making journey began with a fateful trip to Golf Town.

In a jungle of collared clothing, clubs and spiked shoes, Novak unsheathed his caliper and began to measure the dimensions of every putter in the store. After some time at the drawing board, he settled on rough dimensions and started pumping out prototypes. Many didn’t make the cut.

“Eventually [I] got something that had a good weight and a good centre of mass that would work, and just kept improving on that,” Novak said.

After refining his design, the first production-quality putter he made was for his mother-in-law Caree Sullivan, who is also the director of sales at Cove Golf.

“It plays very much like a Scotty Cameron – because I’ve used those as well,” she said, adding that Novak’s models have a similar, super-solid feel.

“We’re getting great feedback,” Sullivan said. “I’ve gone around and talked to the pros, and had them test it out.”

Custom one-offs to production at scale

Up until now, Novak has been making one-off custom pieces. Going forward, Cove is looking to produce select models at scale. Sullivan, with a background in the golf industry and media, is focusing on building awareness that there’s a company making milled putters in Canada. That’s started with connecting to pros and players at local clubs, she said, but the ultimate goal is to get someone with a tour card on board.

“We need to get a name to use the putter,” Sullivan said. “There’s a company in the [U.S.] that got their putter on the pro tour, and that was the game changer.”

At The American Express tournament in January, they got a photo of a Cove Golf putter in the same shot as 20th world-ranked player Sam Burns. An amateur he was playing with was using it.

“From just that one photo, we got a lot of attention,” Sullivan said. “It just showed us having it in the right people’s hands is really going to drive sales.”

With the ball already rolling, Cove is officially teeing off with a launch party event April 4 at Genuine Golf, a custom fitting facility in North Vancouver. It’s one of a select few fitters in the region that’s equipped with Quintic putting analysis, which captures your stroke and ball roll in incredible detail.

Another unique feature of the Cove club is the neck of the putter can be easily changed to best match your stroke. Those who press their grip forward will likely prefer a half or full offset from the shaft. Other customizations include choice of grip and engravings – “Queen of the green” for example.

Emphasizing the local feel, Cove has named its first two production models “Cypress” and “Panorama” after local parks on the North Shore.

“Canadian made is a big driving force right now,” Sullivan said. “When Martin tested the market a couple of years ago and posted a mallet with a Canadian leaf on it, people went nuts because there’s not anyone really making stainless steel putters here in Canada.

“There are people who make wood putters and stuff like that, but something like this, it’s just not around.”

A finished putter blade shows the precise lines on the club face. | Nick Laba / North Shore News
Hundreds of lines of code instruct a CNC machine to make precise cuts to a block of metal. | Nick Laba / North Shore News
Cove Golf founder Martin Novak shows a finished Panorama putter head. | Nick Laba / North Shore News
Cove Golf wants to establish itself as the premier maker of high-end milled putters in Canada. | Nick Laba / North Shore News