Why the long putter should be banned

It’s official, golf’s governing bodies will be taking action on the use of the long putter – looks like it will be banned by 2016. To be correct, it’s not an equipment ruling but rather a technique thing.

You could technically still use a long putter as long as you don’t have it anchored in any way to your body. But this seems ungainly and not a viable option, so in my opinion it’s the death of the long putter (which I think was the goal of the ruling).

Some might be surprised at my headline as I’ve been using a long putter for many years now. When I first heard that anchoring was being outlawed I wasn’t too happy – I even tried ways of coming up with a work-around. Looking at the FAQ from the Royal and Ancient, it seems they have got all bases covered.

So after giving it some serious thought and reflection I think the long putter should be banned. Here’s why;

[headline_tahoma_small_left color=”#000000″]Long putters are ugly[/headline_tahoma_small_left]

They really are. No matter how many times you see someone putting with a longer putter, it just doesn’t look that good. I must add that the “claw” grip is just as ugly but that one would be a lot harder to ban.

[headline_tahoma_small_left color=”#000000″]Not in the spirit of the game[/headline_tahoma_small_left]

It’s just not. Having the club anchored to your body is a departure from what would be considered “normal”. When golfers first started playing the game I’m pretty sure that this strange technique never entered their minds. It’s not really golf and I must say at times I have felt a little uneasy using it.

Even recently, when playing in front of some members, I could hear rumblings about “Strachan’s putter”. The thought has always been in the back of my mind.

[headline_tahoma_small_left color=”#000000″]Good for the game[/headline_tahoma_small_left]

Some are going to be upset (like I was) when they have to stop using their long putter. But in the long run it’s going to be good for the game. Golfer inventiveness can go too far. If we get back to thinking about the basics of the game – hitting a small ball into a round hole – the integrity of the game will be safe.

Golfer’s are going to get more powerful and skillful, but let’s hope they will always look like they’re playing golf.

[headline_tahoma_small_left color=”#000000″]Long putter don’t stop the yips[/headline_tahoma_small_left]

I speak with some authority here. I used to have a terrible case of the putting yips. I tried everything, I really did. My first experience of the long putter was pretty ugly – I dropped kicked more putts than I care to remember. I struggled and ultimately threw it in the bin.

When I retried years later, I did so with a better attitude. So in my opinion it’s your attitude that’s more important than your tool. The long putter (anchoring) doesn’t stop the yips – it’s your mind that’s the deciding factor.

[headline_tahoma_small_left color=”#000000″]We’ve had a good run[/headline_tahoma_small_left]

The last eight or so years have been the best of my career. And most of them have been with a long putter. So what have I got to complain about? I’ve had years of fun and enjoyment and it’s time to move on.

And the same goes for all those “older” golfers who have been using this technique for many years (over 20 in the case of Peter Senior). We’ve all had a fair go and benefited from some lenient rules. Rules change and it’s time to move on. There’s nothing we can do about it anyway – sooner we accept, the sooner we all can work towards an alternative.

[headline_tahoma_small_left color=”#000000″]Putting is not that hard anyway[/headline_tahoma_small_left]

Putting is a very simple skill – there’s hardly anything to it. If one can’t adapt to a shorter putter and roll the ball towards the hole then the long putter wouldn’t help them anyway. It’s not like the rule change is asking you to switch hit. Time to take a deep breath, accept it and move on.

[headline_tahoma_small_left color=”#000000″]Step in the right direction[/headline_tahoma_small_left]

Honestly, this rule change has been a long time coming. Any long putter user who really thought they (golf officialdom) wouldn’t change the rule is naive. It was always going to happen – I think 3 of the last 5 major winners (Bradley, Webb and Els) probably tipped the authorities over the edge.

Hopefully now they can make some other hard decisions. The ball is a monumental problem for the game. The average punter might not think it’s a big issue for them, but with more and more courses becoming obsolete (then having to undergo major redesign works) it really does affect us all.

This has been a big decision for such a conservative sport – let’s hope now more positive action can be taken in all areas of this great game.

I feel good about the rule change and truly believe that it has been made in the best interest of golf. It’s going to take some golfers a little time to adjust, but we’ve all been given fair warning. If you can’t find a legal and natural way to putt before 2016, then maybe you should go play tennis.

Final thought: I’m seeing this as a challenge and look forward to testing my theories about golf improvement/learning. The biggest issue I’ve now got is what bloody putter I should buy?

What are your thoughts? (not about my putter 🙂 but the rule change)

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  • John

    Reply Reply November 29, 2012

    First read on your site. Like the format. I have never used a long putter so I am not effected. However, I am a pure golf grower and I have never seen the harm in the long putter. Why should you give up something that you admit you will miss. I would be using if I liked the feel and it helped my score…it doesn’t. My 80 year old father will now stop playing as he can’t stop shaking and the anchor kept him playing ten more years. As a believer in the rules, he will stop tomorrow, not in 2016, just in principal. Golf, just keeps shooting itself in the foot. The unusual look of the long putter is a function of the novelty, it speaks to how few people use it. By the way I agree with you about the ball… I am a BirdieBall guy after all.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply November 29, 2012

      Hi John: Thanks for stopping by.

      I feel sorry for your Dad and you make a great point – I completely forgot about that part of the market. If you absolutely need a long putter then maybe there needs to be some consideration. Sometimes rules can’t be that flexible however.

      I use the long putter because it assisted me in changing my attitude (second time around). I don’t feel any real love for it and am actually looking forward to the challenge of using something shorter.

      After a lot of thought, I think it’s a good decision – it’s late and hopefully it prompts faster decisions in the future.

      I also wouldn’t be surprised if there was some legal action. If I was a tour player who grew up with a long putter and was reliant on it to produce an income, then I wouldn’t be too happy. I can definitely see some sort of resent towards the decision.

  • Cam280

    Reply Reply November 29, 2012

    Looking at the stats, you would have to say long putters have an advantage. I don’t know the advantage because I look up to Jack, Palmer and Tiger as the best putters and they use the short stick!. Forget what putter you use!, the fact remains, the read is more important!. Unless you can see the ball going in the hole…. I was practicing the other day , came across this guy who was complaining about how he was leaving his putts short. So he started to ram them past the hole by 4 feet with a little reminder that he got it past the hole. I said to him your missing the point!.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply November 29, 2012

      Cam280: I haven’t looked at the stats but I’m not sure they offer a huge advantage – if they did I reckon every pro would use them. Happy to be corrected on this however.

      Re the guy: There is no helping some people. Plenty of DHs out there who have no idea.

  • James Smith

    Reply Reply November 29, 2012

    I would like to see the use of the long putter governed by a local rule rather than a universal ban.

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply December 1, 2012

    When you look at some of the things that HAVE been banned over the years in golf I’m surprised that anchoring has been allowed to continue this long. They banned Sam Snead from standing astride the line yet that would seem to be much less an advantage to me than anchoring a club to your body (?) Anyway, better to deal with the real problem (fear of one sort or another) than run to long putters. As Cam says they don’t cure the yips anyway. Crikey, you can yip a driver if you want to 🙂

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply December 2, 2012

      GP: They have been quite slow with this one. It’s probably due to the fact that so few people used it back in the day. With more players adopting this technique from day one, now is the time to nip it in the bud.

  • 3 Putt

    Reply Reply December 2, 2012

    From memory on a article I read the other week – there is only one or two users of the long putter in the Top 30 for putting on the PGA Tour this year. All the best putters use the short stick. Rory, Donald, Tiger etc. As you say Cameron it seems to be more of a placebo – it makes the users feel more confident but it is not as if they are all dominating the stats. Their wins have come about more form their tee to green effort. Another side question, why do hardly any female pros use them?

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply December 2, 2012

      Yep. I think after a year or so most would have forgotten about these longer putters and moved on. But who knows what sort of technique will be dreamed up next.

  • Troy Vayanos

    Reply Reply December 2, 2012

    I think it’s the right decision but about 30 years too late. It’s almost like they waited until guys started winning major championships before they took action.

    I’ve never been a big fan of the longer putters and believe everyone should be putting with a similar length putter.

    You’re right, the golf ball technology needs to be reigned in. You can’t have guys consistently hitting it out there over 315 yards plus which forces clubs to redesigned their golf courses.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply December 3, 2012

      Troy: Yep, I hope this decision will inspire some more action. The ball is getting out of control – earlier this year I played against a young gun who made golf a joke. He was regularly hitting the ball well over 300 metres (not yards) and on one hole (which is a classic on the Melbourne Sandbelt) he had only 45 metres to the front of the green. When I told Mike Clayton about this kid he didn’t believe me, saying, “nobody can hit the ball that far!”. I arranged a game and the young gun didn’t disappoint.

      Playing off of the Tiger tees (and some improvised ones to make the course as long as the boundaries would allow) the champ had little more than a sand iron into any par 4. On the par five 6th he hit a wedge onto the green for two – Clayton couldn’t believe it! On the 12th we played from the middle of the 11th green, making the hole around 435 metres and a carry of close to 300m to clear the fairway traps. He hit lob wedge into the green and the traps weren’t even a consideration. The course was once considered a monster, but not anymore.

      On our final hole we all hit good drives. Mike was around 40 metres behind me and I was close to 50 metres behind the youngster. The worry is there are plenty of these young guys that hit the ball just as far – another local lad said there’s a kid at the course next door who regularly drives the ball 350+ metres. It’s just not good for the game. It seems the ball and clubface technology have been perfectly matched to allow for these ridiculous distances. To me, this is making some of the great courses obsolete and changing the game – shotmaking is being left behind for a long drive and putting competition.

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply December 3, 2012

    The irony is that these blokes (the super hitters) are actually missing out.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply December 3, 2012

      GP: you make a great point and highlights a huge issue with the game. There’s more to golf than long drives. It sorta becomes boring to jump on the tee and wail away – takes little skill and decision making. The best courses (which are becoming obsolete) require you to make a decision each time you stand on the tee. Kingston Heath is a pretty good case in point.

      Long drives are ego based. Many think a longer drive will improve score but it doesn’t.

  • Troy Vayanos

    Reply Reply December 3, 2012

    Yes Cameron 350 metres is just way too far.

    I think you hit the nail on the head perfectly. Shot making is what golf should be mostly about. The ability to play a well executed shot to your target within a level playing field.

    Not bombing it 350 metres down the fairway and having a short 50 metre pitch to the green.

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