Monday, August 22, 2011

Should the Long-Putter Success Worry Golfers?

As you've probably heard, Webb Simpson won on Sunday at the Wyndham, meaning for the third straight week, a long or belly putter has taken home a PGA Tour crown. That's just one week after a long-putter won for the first time in a major championship, and some golf historians aren't so happy about it.

But why is it happening in such a rush right now? Simple, because players have more access to just about everything in golf. Look at Matt Kuchar. A top-10 machine the last couple of years, Kuchar switched mid-season to a putter that you rest in your left armpit, mainly because a coach told him it would help keep the ball on the path better. Do I have access to such technology? No, not really, but that doesn't mean I couldn't go down to my local golf shop and test out 20 long and belly putters from all different brands. It's access, and the players are using it to their benefit.

Now, is it a problem? I really don't think so. You want every edge you can get in golf, and while I can understand people complaining about the extra anchor that a belly or long putter gives you, you still have to be mentally sound enough to think you can make putts consistently. That's the big difference in a guy like Webb and your weekend hacker; Simpson really believes that he'll make every putt, and the long putter gives him that slight confidence boost that he probably needed.

Would I ever go to a long putter? No, probably not, mainly because I think they're goofy and my game isn't that serious anymore. If I was on the PGA Tour, and someone told me I could make one more putt a round if I switched? Absolutely, anything for that mini-boost.

The thing is, long putters aren't going anywhere, so we might as well embrace them like we did with the Big Bertha, the Pro-V and range finders. They're just part of the game now, whether you like them or not.

Getty Images


Mark said...

The USGA missed this one years ago. However, they proved by regulating grooves that they are not scared to ban things in widespread play. The groove changes affected EVERY golfer on tour. Banning long putters will affect a much smaller percentage.

So don't be surprised to see them tackle this one. Personally I think it's really sad to see a player like Scott carry such a ridiculously long stick.

Jim S. said...

Just like they did when they outlawed the croquet putter, any putter that requires, or allows, you to anchor it against your body should be banned. What they are doing is NOT putting in the traditional accepted way.

J.R. Clark said...

Like it or not, golf historically has been about equipment and technology change. I'm sure that proponents of hickory shafts wanted to ban steel shafts because it gave users an unfair advantage.

I don't use the belly putter or the long putter but I don't care if such putters are used in tournament golf. It's very telling that consistently successful golfers use traditional putters.

Aussie Golfer said...

" I can understand people complaining about the extra anchor that a belly or long putter gives you, you still have to be mentally sound enough to think you can make putts consistently."

I'm not sure I agree. You can be less mentally sound. The twitches due to nerve activation that are a large part of the yips can be negated somewhat with this extra anchor point.