Weighing In On Long Putters
Over the past few months, we’ve seen a lot of media buzz about this current trend to longer putters, both the belly and longer versions. Having been in this business for almost 30 years, I’m having a bit of a déjà vu moment here, as this same hubbub was churning back in the late 1980s, as I remember. When a few of the senior tour players began having success with them, there was a spurt of interest in the long (not belly) putter, and most putter companies quickly responded with one or more long putter models. As I remember, sales of long putters skyrocketed for a short while.

Well, here we are again, witnessing the same market reaction. A few tour players are having success with the long and belly putters, and the market is reacting again with a flood of those broomsticks from nearly every putter brand. And once again, battle lines are being drawn between those who think golfers should be able to do almost anything and everything to score better, and those who fear the integrity of the game is in jeopardy once again. Most in the business are expecting the USGA and R&A to weigh in on this soon.

So what’s the big deal? Do these putters jeopardize the game? I’m witnessing one ‘conversion’ at my club with one of our better players who was really struggling with his putting, to the point of absolute frustration on the greens. So, he took the plunge, began working with a long putter, and his enjoyment of the game has totally turned around. And he’s making lots of putts. And taking money from his buddies. And his handicap is going down to level the playing field at his new skill level.

So, how is the game suffering because this guy (and many more like him) found a way to score better? It’s not like the long/belly-putter users have knocked everyone else off the tour. It’s not like they are making a mockery of par. And so what if they were? Tour golf is so far-removed from the golf the rest of us play, it’s not even the same game in many ways. How many legitimate 3-shot par five holes are there on tour, compared to your course?

For me, who occasionally fights a bout of the yips, I’m not ready to go there, though several of my golf friends suggest I try it. I’m an old schooler, and believe that the way to beat a golf affliction is to practice harder. And I just simply don’t like the look of them. I’m a traditionalist, and it just doesn’t seem right to me to anchor the putter to the body in any way.

But it also galls me to see golfers wearing cargo shorts. Shirt tails that aren’t tucked in. Caps on backwards or cockeyed. And my biggest pet peeve – guys who wear flip flops at the country club. Sheesh. Get some shoes, guys!!!!

Anyway, I’d like to hear what you guys think of the long putter debate. Should you be able to anchor the club to the body? Should there be a maximum length allowed for a putter? Does it just look “wrong”?

Let’s have some fun with this one and everyone sound off, OK?
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[ comments ]
bkuehn1952 says:
If I understand you correctly, you personally don't like the idea of anchoring the putter to a part of the body but think it is fine for players to adopt this technique. My position is that the Rules of Golf should address the issue of anchoring a club against the body and make it against the rules to do so. All clubs should be subject to the maximum length rule (48 inches) unless putters are prohibited when measuring "club lengths" for a drop. As long as the rules prevent the use of putters in measuring where to drop, then excess length is not an issue for me.
Mr_X says:
I have never experienced the yips, so this is a purely rhetorical discussion for me.

I see two issues with long putters: fairness and tradition. First, they are not traditional. The long putters are now the longest clubs in the bag. I was told decades ago that the longer the club club, the longer the ball travels. No more! They have a very odd look to them. Their proper usage requires a grip you would not use on any of the other 13 clubs in your bag. The anchored stroke is completely foreign to the basic golf strokes: chip, pitch and full swing. Golfers are using long putters because they do help with the yips. They provide a different level of control.

That brings up the second issue of fairness. The PGA describes the yips as, "A condition, generally believed to be psychological, which causes a player to lose control of his hands". If the long putter prevents the this loss of control, which many claim, I think it is an advantage.
Mr_X says:
Since everyone can can use these putters, there is no real advantage. The unfairness which I see is in their non-regalation. Bobby Jones banned Sam Snead's straddle putting because Jones thought Snead was too successful with it. It was an unfair advantage. Should the PGA ban long putters? Maybe. I do think that an organization which has rules and equipment requirements for every other standard, should at least have a maximum length for putters. How about less that 39 inches? It is time for a ruling on this issue!
Agustin says:
So let me get this straight, the USGA and R&A are worried about the unfair advantages of milimetric grove geometry yet dont care when golfers bring their brooms on to the course? I don't get it.

If they are so worried about scoring then ban long and belly putters. Give the game back to those who master the art of putting and not those who hit it a mile and then rely on gimicks to fix their putting woes.
wedgeguy says:
That's the spirit, guys. Keep sounding off. Tell us what you think!!
kingwood hacker says:
I am tired of the governing bodies making rules decisions based solely on the highest levels of golfers. Why would you want to punish regular people for trying to enjoy a game that is struggling for relevance in our world, just so that the .0001% of players don't ruin "The integrity of the game". Real golfers who pay green fees and buy products and pay their USGA dues won't start shooting in the 60's just because they have a long putter.

I think it's fine if the tours outlaw them, but don't take them away from regular people.
yocassidy says:
I am a bit twisted and believe the USGA & R&A are overdue on making a ruling on this subject. I am a traditionalist and believe the traditional putter length should be used especially on the PGA tour, Euro tours, and Q-school. On the other hand, I believe on the recreation level it should be an option for the simple enjoyment of the game. To me it is kind of similar to the aluminium bat issue in baseball. You can use the aluminium bat up to the professional level. I would really like to see where guys like Adam Scott and Ernie Els would be ranked without the long/belly putters. The USGA & R&A have to make a decision.
unmnorth says:
After I read Terry's idea of using 2 putters, I went to the store and bought a long putter and a short one. When I tried it at the store it was great. When I used it on the course, the first 2 rounds were good, but it started to get too bulky. Now I am back to my Odyssey White Hot. I hold the putter like a wedge and putt with open stance when I am far away from the hole. From within 3 ft, I use my usual left hand low grip. It works. My average putt for the last 6 rounds ( 9 holes ) is 1.9. I used to donate my old putters, for now, I am keeping all of them. I think changing putters from time to time is a good idea.
mjaber says:
I don't care what anyone else uses on the green to get the ball in the hole. If you're comfortable with it, and it works, I say use it. I went and got a shorter than standard 33" putter, because the 35" I had just wasn't comfortable. My stance had me gripping the club almost on the shaft, instead of the grip. I could have almost used it as a belly putter with the way I'm comfortable standing. I even tried it once. Felt weird.

Are we going to stop Robert Garrigus (I think that's him) from using the extra-short putter? Outlaw the "claw" grip?

The USGA and R&A need to stop regulating what manufacturers can and cannot make. The "groove" rule is the same thing. Give tours and tournaments the option to limit this, but don't take it away from the guy who uses his handicap to make a couple bucks of his buddies during their once a month round.
homermania says:
I think guys that use long putters are making up for shortcomings elsewhere.
legitimatebeef says:
I think they look regrettable but on the other hand I can't give two shits about them. Nontraditional but then again I can't really see how they violate the basic spirit of the game. It's still a stick that you use to swing and strike the ball with. I think these things can help ppl have a fresh outlook on putting but don't offer any significant mechanical advantage if at all. I mean when you plug a stick into your gut already you are introducing a whole nother world of variability. Inhale, exhale, hold your breath? All these things will affect the motion/position of the club will they not? Also, restricting the motion of the club might be good for short putts but it also compromises finesse and touch which are needed for longer strokes. There's no free lunch.
Tim Horan says:
Ban them all they are not in the spirit of the game. The USGA and The R&A banned the pendulum method of putting with a conventional putter because it gave an unfair advantage...being over the line of the putt. Surely having an anchor point against your body is just as much an infringement, unfair and unsporting. But hey there isn't there just too much money at stake to be sporting??? As to cargo shorts, untucked shirts, no socks, beanies et al...if the club allows it wear it if you are comfortable with it. Even if you are on holiday think of the membership of that club you are visiting would they like it?? or better still if you had visitors at your home track would you expect them to abide by your dress code??
DaRupp13 says:
What's the big deal? If it's not a clear advantage then who cares. It's not like larger driver heads which is a clear advantage (if it weren't, you would still see some pros play with smaller driver heads). I agree with bkuehn - as long as it can't be used for measuring drops, go for it...if you REALLY think it's going to help you...
Niramas says:
I couldn't care less what the other idiots shoot out on the course so if it makes you feel better then go for it.
sepfeiff says:
Long putters are certainly bending the rules in my opinion. Otherwise I don't care as long as its within the rules, I'd pay a bet. I've had my struggles with the putter, maybe as many as 5 or 6 3 putts in a round during the worst of it. I would agree that once I put a little practice in the putting got better quickly.
DoubleDingo says:
I haven't tried a long putter, nor do I plan to. I don't like the way they look, and don't like the concept of anchoring it to my body. I carry a Scotty Cameron Blade putter that is almost identical to the old Acushnet Blade Putters of yesteryear. I always catch flack for my old school-type equipment, but I prefer to use it. Last week I did order a Louie 3 Blade putter, and it is 34" just like my SC Blade. 34" is a nice length to produce a smooth on-line stroke with the eyes directly above the ball. So I say limit the length of putters.
KVSmith59 says:
why do you care? they are legal so just deal with it. if you think they give someone an advantage, then pony up the money and buy one....they are legal afterall. If you're worried about the integrity of the game, then lets all go back to "wood" woods, stymies, and blades.
DoubleDingo says:
"Wood" woods are superior in my book.
nswynnerton says:
Having taken up the game at age 23 (50 years ago) I am a throwback to what I was introduced to then, a time when golf was a "gentleman's game". As such, I must agree with Terry on most of his rant. I don't wear cargo pants or flip flops at the club...hell, I don't even go "golfing"...I "play golf". To me the former is akin to "tennising", and you just don't do that. I finally found out why some folks wear ball caps backwards...they don't come with instructions.
glenrich says:
I see the long vs short putter in the same way as I see hybrid vs long iron.
For me, hybrids are easier to hit solidly but at the expense of some extra direction control that I can get with a long iron.

I have used both putters and there are pro's and con's of each one.
I have not seen that one gives a much clearer advantage over another in all aspects.
There are some things the long putter does better but there are other things that the short putter does better.

Sure if you have the yips the long putter may help but you but at the expense of the advantages that a short putter provides over the long putter. For example, I can control the line of my putts much better with my long putter but I can control the distance much better expecially on longer putts with a normal length putter.

It is really a matter of a player picking the one that suits them best in much the same way a player choses any other club they put in their bag.
joe jones says:
Bobby Jones had the usga ban the croquet style putting because he thought it looked strange.Not because he thoughit gave someone an unfair advantage.
As to anchoring against any part of the body other than the hands, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player,Jack Nicklaus and Billy Casper among other pro,s used a pop stroke that rested their forearm on their left thigh to stabilize the stroke.The golf industry invents "magic wands" all the time that promise improved performance. I would like to ask the "traditionalists" if they ever rush out to buy a game improvement club or if they still play with a gutta perch ball and persimmon drivers.Do they still use hickory shafts? I have a suggestion. Get rid of your indoor plumbing and go back to the traditional bathroom the outhouse.
mlf16507 says:
Here is the putter to cure your yips!

newrider says:
I assume all of the "traditionalists" here are single digit cappers still using forged blade long irons, persimmon woods and hickory shafted putters wearing knickers and ties to maintain the "spirit" of the game. Personally I've used long, belly and traditional length putters on the course depending on how I felt that day. They all have advantages and disadvantages but before they tell me I can't use it they better outlaw graphite shafted titanium drivers, hybrids, super MOI grooved mallet putters and loud mouth pants.
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