Weighing in on Long Putters
Okay, so enough of you have written in asking my thoughts on the recent spurt of success some tour players are having with the longer putters. It’s pretty obvious if you read my column each week that I’m quite the traditionalist when it comes to golf. But I’m also “all about” doing what it takes to get the ball into the hole with the least number of strokes. And in my observation, on and around the greens is where most golfers fare the worst.
Even with Phil giving the belly putter a try, I don’t see this as a trend that is going to transform or damage the game of golf. One of our better players at the club put a long putter in his bag a few months ago, and he immediately went on a tear. But it didn’t last forever. He’s human, just like the rest of us, and he’ll have his good days and bad. But if the long putter makes him feel better on the greens, make a few more than he would otherwise, what’s wrong with that?
I think there is little chance that long and belly putters will make that part of the game so easy that we’ll have to begin thinking about going to a smaller hole. I don’t think they are anywhere near the threat to golf that the golf ball and drivers have become. Or the fitness trailers. I don’t see great courses like Merion being made obsolete by long putters, but they have become unsuitable for major championships because they just can’t be stretched to 7,500+ yards.
I’ve tried the long putters, and just don’t like them. I can never get comfortable with one . . . maybe I haven’t found the right one. I can tell you that I recently cut another 1-1/2” off my putter, taking it to just over 31” and it’s made a world of difference in my short range performance. So, would we want to suggest that there be a limit on how short a putter can be?
The fact is, this game is dang hard. The vast majority of golfers have rarely, if ever, seen the south side of 90. And those that can shoot in the 70s regularly are a miniscule percentage of recreational golfers. If we could get more of the weekenders to experience lower numbers, the game would be thriving. If long putters can do that, more power to us all.
If the PGA Tour thinks the long putters are not right for its players . . . if they damage “the show” . . . they can deal with it. But until Joe Saturday is making a mockery of the greens because of his broom-handle putter, I think the USGA should just leave it alone. I’m sure going to.
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I hope they leave it alone, but I could see them putting in a rule similar to the "groove rule", where it's OK for the everyday golfer, but the top-level amatuers and pro's can't "anchor" the putter to their body.
I'm not a fan of these but I think it all pans out. Most of the time you see a pro using them, their stroke looks jerky and unconfident. Webb Simpson comes to mind. Vijay and Fred Couples' strokes still make you wanna puke. The best, silky smoothest putting strokes are still made with a traditional stroke. The anchored putter might provide a bit more stability, reducing pushes and pulls, but come on now--putting is mostly about aim and speed. It's not like the full swing--in putting it takes a really poor stroke to hit the ball off line. If you are worried that you cannot hit a putt on line, then you are up in your head and an anchored putter is really just a band-aid.
Thank for the insight, Terry. One thing I've wondered about the long putters is the style of head. Does anyone using them have a blade style belly putter? Or are they exclusively the mallet style putters? Why is that?
@aaronm04... I believe that they are available in all of the different blade and mallet styles, just like the standard length putters. I don't use one, but I think I've seen blades before.
I could anchor a long putter to a building and not putt well with it. It's like the square drivers. I just don't set up well to the ball and it feels terribly uncomfortable. We all have our preferences.
long and belly putter now, then what is next? i don't see any problem with what is happening. for instance adam scott was most definately the worse putter i'd ever seen but now look, he putts with a decent stroke and has the ball rolling.
There's more than a little precedent to the banning of specific equipment for not just professional golfers but all hackers to indicate that the belly or long putter could be outlawed.
I for one think it should be banned. I agree that golf is a difficult game, and putting can easily be considered the most frustrating aspect. But its difficulty is what makes the game fun and rewarding. The belly and long putter effectively change the nature of the putting stroke by offering a 3rd anchor point for stability and consistency. I believe that is cheating.
Terry, there already is a limit to minimum putter length. All golf clubs have to be at least 18" long.
My issue is not the length of the putter, but the act of anchoring it against a body part. It would look silly, but simple logic would tell me eventually someone will anchor one right between their eyes and use a center shaft because that means your eyes are directly over the ball. That might be the day I quit golf entirely.
joe jones says:
Respectfully.One can putt well with either the belly putter or broomstick without anchoring the butt end. One style is sidesaddle style that I have been using with great success since 1970 and the second is V J Singh style with the belly putter. If one has been around since the 50s and 60s, Arnie , Billy Casper and Gary Player all rested their left hand on their left thigh to brace it and used a pop stroke to putt beautifully. Nobody criticized them. People should get over it. Different strokes for different folks.
@joe jones: i think the side saddle style is illegal.
joe jones says:
Side saddle putting is legal as long as you don't straddle the line of the putt. Croquet putting is illegal. Bob Duden invented both styles and Sam Snead copied him with great success.
"If one has been around since the 50s and 60s, Arnie , Billy Casper and Gary Player all rested their left hand on their left thigh to brace it and used a pop stroke to putt beautifully." @joe jones
Joe: I do not recall any of the players mentioned resting their left hand on their thigh. While I did not watch the players mentioned live or even on TV, there are plenty of old "Challenge Golf" or "Big Three" golf reruns that can be viewed even today. It sure doesn't look like what you stated. Everyone had very handsy-wristy strokes from what I have seen. You don't do that bracing a hand on the thigh.
joe jones says:
Mea Culpa. Sorry about that. I meant left forearm, not left hand. The point is they braced another part of the body other than the hands to steady the stroke.Obviously all three were great putters regardless of the method.
Years ago I used a 24" putter. Great on Mon. thru Sat. Usually too hungover after a Saturady night on the town to be good with it on Sunday!!
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