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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