If necessity is the mother of invention, perhaps spare time is its father.

Like many of his peers, Ryan Duffey’s rapid prototyping business slowed down during the pandemic. 

Engineering Resource Center (ERC), based in Germantown, Wisconsin, primarily makes plastic parts, but they also cut steel to make the molds that make those parts.

“We had a lot of time on our hands. And we had these machines, we had this steel… and I’m a big golfer,” Duffey said, explaining how he got the idea for building a new putter and ultimately, created a whole new brand in less than a year and a half, launching Meridian Putters in September 2021. 

“The first putter we made, I literally drew on a napkin,” recalled Duffey. From there, he created a very rough design and enlisted the help of a contact who formerly worked with Nike Golf to help make sure that the putters’ designs conformed to USGA standards.

“We kind of toyed with some designs. We went back and forth on some stuff. And then about this time last year, we sort of focused on four or five different models…. We started making some prototypes, some test models, and some different face finishes. And it was about April of last year where we said, ‘Okay, you know, we have four models here that look pretty good. What’s the next step?’ And that’s when I formed the company,” said Duffey.

Although Duffey was born and raised in Wisconsin, he has always had a love for the ocean and the beach, which is what inspired Meridian’s name.

“I was trying to come up with a name that tied into direction and it sort of started with my favorite spot in the world, which is South Carolina,” said Duffey, who has been going on family trips to South Carolina since he was born. He got married at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, his parents are now retired there and one day, he hopes he might do the same. 

“I was thinking about ‘compass’ or different nautical terms like that. And for some reason, Meridian just sort of stuck in my head,” he said.

As an homage to his favorite place, the names of each of the four putters in the Meridian family are inspired by beach towns. 

There’s the Charleston. Charleston, S.C. is an old historic, classic beach town, which corresponds with the Charleston putter, a classic anser-style design.

There’s the Edisto, an old-school blade design, and the Okatie with another simple head, named after other cities in the state. 

Finally, the Tybee putter is an off-set mallet, matching Tybee, Georgia, another storied beach town that itself is offset, located on an island.

“Naming putters after towns… it just felt like a really good alignment there.” said Duffey, no pun intended.

Right now, Meridian sells everything direct to the consumer. By visiting MeridianPutters.com, you can purchase one of the four models where you also have the option to get it customized in terms of finish, length, grip, material, etc. 

Being local, I had the advantage of visiting with Wisconsin PGA Teacher of the Year and Golf Digest’s #1 teacher in the state, David Roesch who used SAM PuttLab and Trackman technology to help fit me professionally for my new Meridian Putter at Silver Spring Country Club in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

“The fitting process is obviously a local thing right now. David is kind enough to help us out. He’s been a tremendous help throughout the process for us. And we’ve done a number of fittings out there. So that’s been good but unfortunately, that’s sort of a local offering at this point in time,” Duffey noted.

However, if someone does want to get professionally fitted for his or her new Meridian Putter, if they have access to the same technology via their local pro, they can send the report to Meridian to have their putter built to their personal specifications. 

And, while it may be tough for those not in the area to purchase a putter sight unseen, rest assured that Meridian has a 30-day money-back guarantee.  

“It can be tough to buy a putter without testing it, so we try to give people the peace of mind that they can get their money back if they don’t like it,” Duffey said. “If you buy a stock putter, and you just don’t like the feel of it, you will get your money back. But that’s only happened a couple of times. For the most part, I think people have been really pretty pleased.”

That guarantee does not apply, however, to what I think is the coolest part about the brand: The ability to offer even greater personalization, such as colors and engraving.

Take my putter for example… I was able to change the compass coordinates to those of Milwaukee, add my Twitter handle (@CMoyer) and include a sketch that is a carbon copy of a figure that I drew frequently as a child and has become somewhat of my calling card within my family.

“My goal is to allow people to have a personalized putter, something that’s a little more special than what you would buy at a big box store,” Duffey said. “My vision is to be able to make the putter match the player.”

Other putter companies such as Scotty Cameron and Bettinardi offer customization, too, but the price point can get pretty high. 

“What I’m hoping to do is to offer that high quality, personalized putter made right here in the United States for a price that doesn’t turn people away. And I think so far we’ve been able to do that,” he said. The stock models currently range from $140-$220.

Right now Duffey estimates that approximately one-third of his orders are personalized, but he has seen an uptick over the last few months as word has begun to spread about the brand. 

As a new company, Duffey wanted to make sure Meridian Putters could meet demand, so he’s done very little marketing, primarily relying on word of mouth so far. 

However, Duffey’s team recently installed two new machines in his facility that will be dedicated to putter work and will help greatly in terms of capacity, so he’s getting ready to ramp up his marketing plan heading into late spring and early summer.

Having pros using the putters will also help gain brand recognition. So far, Meridian has made it on the Epson Tour in the bag of Tess Hackworthy, a pro golfer from Madison, Wis.

“She really likes her model. So she’s the first (pro) to use it. There are a couple more pros who have putters, but I don’t know if they’ve put them in the bag yet. They haven’t told me if they have, and I’m not sure I can really mention any names yet,” Duffey noted. 

Reflecting back on the whirlwind of the last year and the feedback he’s gotten to date, Duffey said, “It’s been really fun. The support I’ve gotten, especially from the Wisconsin golf community has been unbelievable. The amount of people that reach out like, ‘Hey, this is so cool. Let me know how I can help….’ I can’t tell you the number of people who’ve said that. I’m just excited to be doing this and I’m excited for the next 12 months.”

With the new equipment installed and the golf season about to get into full swing in many parts of the country, Duffey has every reason to be thrilled about the direction Meridian is headed.

Author’s Note: Want to score a Meridian Putter for 20% off? Use code CMOYER at checkout.

Caitlin Moyer

Caitlin Moyer has been hacking and hoping since she was 10. Over the course of her career in the sports industry, she's had the chance to play the game with LPGA, MLB and NBA players, as well as NASCAR drivers and celebrities, but her favorite playing partner is her dad (even though he is a stick). Inventor and sole practitioner of the one-flap™ golf swing (patent pending).