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Should the long putter be completely banned?

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The anchoring of the long putter was banned completely on Jan. 1, 2016. You would think that would spell the end of the subject, yet here we are approaching the end of 2018, and the long putter is still a hot topic in the game of golf.

At the John Deere Classic earlier this year, David Hearn was called out by the rules officials because of concerns over how well he was putting, and whether or not he was anchoring the putter.

He spent some time having his putting stroke analyzed, and the officials deemed that he was in fact not anchoring the putter and was allowed to continue with the stroke.

With golf being a gentleman’s game, we are all compelled to believe that those professionals who still use the long putter, are in fact abiding by the rules and no longer anchor the putter. However, when you see some putting strokes, you can’t help but think the putter is resting against the golfer’s chest, and it does make you question whether or not the putters themselves should be banned completely.

It does raise the question whether or not certain professionals are able to simply hold the putter away from their chests when showing the rules officials, and then revert back to anchoring the putter when actually in play. Does the game need that sort of controversy?

If there is that much doubt and controversy surrounding the subject, why are the putters not banned themselves? It seems to be a hotly debated topic among tour professionals with many still supporting a ban of the long putter completely, and many others adamant that they should be still allowed in the game.

Keegan Bradley, Ernie Els, Webb Simpson, and Adam Scott, all major winners with the long putter have all seen their putting stats drop dramatically since the ban even though, as Webb Simpson pointed out in 2012, “If you look at the facts, last year there was no one in the top 20 of strokes gained category that anchored a putter”

Bernhard Langer’s continued use of the long putter has caused more discussion and debate than anyone else still choosing to use the club, with the former golf pro, Mark Allen calling Bernhard’s stroke “illegal.”

One argument for the continued use of the long putter when the ruling against the anchoring came in, was the fact that none of the top 20 players in the PGA Tour’s stats for the most reliable putting used a long putter, and that if they were that good, more golfers would be using them.

Putting is probably the most important part of the game of golf, and when you have to hold your nerve and swing every other club from your driver down to your wedge with both feel and control, surely those conditions should be the same when putting?

Whatever side of the fence you sit, if the USGA and R&A wanted to eradicate the issues surrounding the anchoring of the putter completely, and any advantage that it may or may not give a player, then surely the only decision would have been to ban the putters themselves? As it currently stands, the air of doubt surrounding the use of the long putter is going to be with us for some time yet.

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51 Comments

51 Comments

  1. Rod Clarke

    Oct 9, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    I understood the intent was for the R&A and USGA to get rid of the long putter from the game but the anchoring rule they introduced left a big loophole.
    Going back to the foundations and ethos of the game, players hand or hands were below the elbows when holding and executing a shot. Adopting that proviso for all clubs should send the long putters into retirement. Midsize length putters (like Kouchar and DeChambeau use) would still be used I guess. In fact, doesn’t DeChambeau anchor his putter against his arm? Now that’s another question.

  2. Radim Pavlicek

    Oct 9, 2018 at 2:19 am

    Your hands has to be below your waist and the putter has to be the shorstes club in the bag. Two simple rules and problem is solved.

    • Kelly Roberts

      Oct 9, 2018 at 10:15 am

      Who the heck is Mark Allen?

      • Pete

        Oct 10, 2018 at 10:18 pm

        Mark Allen? Aussie golf pro and a very entertaining radio host on Melbourne radio.

  3. ralph

    Oct 8, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    No…. just ban the tour pro golfers who use the long putter… 😛

  4. JP

    Oct 8, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    I bet if Tiger started using a long putter, the USGA would completely allow it, and allow it to be used in any style Tiger wanted to use it. He could sell a ton of them and the USGA and manufacturers would get into bed together faster than you could blink.

  5. paul schofield

    Oct 8, 2018 at 6:56 pm

    Never mind banning the long putter. It’s a bad rule just reverse it.

  6. Phil Shockley

    Oct 8, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    The ONLY way you will end this debate if for the USGA and R&A to get some balls and eliminate the Long Putter, that will end the debate. I watch the Champions Tour and Langer says he does not anchor it but it appears that he does. Unless and Until they invalidate the use of the long putter, these discussions will continue.
    Another thought that an attorney friend stated to me is until both sides of the ocean elect NON-LAWYERS to positions of power they will never get anything done, they are the ONLY people to debate what the word IS means.

  7. C

    Oct 8, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Yes… ban them…. anything past 36 inches should be like hockey allowing extra length for only tall players. Should get rid of mallets too. Way past time for pro equipment rules.

    • Wilfred Lowe

      Oct 8, 2018 at 6:58 pm

      If it was that much better wouldn’t all pros being doing it? Use your head if you spent the time to perfect your stroke you would do what is BEST for YOU, right. Just because you are not good at it don’t put it down. The way you talk every buddy should put the same way. Well real golfers know that Everyone is different,thus you see many different styles and Strokes whatever works within the rules. Sounds to me like you are jealous of good putters. You should try it maybe you will learn something that would help your game.

    • Bruce

      Oct 15, 2018 at 9:47 am

      Let’s go back to wood woods, hickory shafts, and feather stuffed balls – that’s how real men play.

  8. art Williams

    Oct 8, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    I tried it years ago and could not master it. It is not easy. In the beginning I felt it was not a true stroke and should have been deemed illegal. However, the USGA & the R & A took forever to move on this style of putting that it seemed unfair to then come up with the “anchor ban”. If they want to revisit it go ahead with a ban on major pro tours and elite amateur tournaments like the US Am. Let regular hackers use it if it keeps them coming out to the course each week. Golf is a game right? I’d bet half of those yelling about this putting style roll the ball in the fairway and take their share of mulligans. Play on!

  9. Bradley Smith

    Oct 8, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    1s the only player to win a major using a long putter is Adam Scott the others used belly putters !
    2nd the R&A alongwith the USGA brought the anchor ban into stopping the use of thè belly putter which they have achieved !

    the long putter was never an issue with them

  10. joro

    Oct 8, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    It should either be banned or OK’d, but not this BS. So many times it looks like they anchor it but the Cameras move behind them and you can’t see what is going on. But I do believe both MeCarron and Longer have been connected many times. There really was no reason to ban it in the first place other than the usual, Gary, jack, and Arnie didn’t like it and the Bluenoses had obey. They didn’t like the Grooves, the Bluenoses changed it, as well as the length of a Driver. It is stupid and like every other rule, not enforced. So there!!!

  11. Bob Jones

    Oct 8, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    The anchor ban was a misguided rule designed only to get back at anchoring pros winning major championships. Unfortunately, millions of recreational golfers got caught up in the hysteria.

  12. Doug

    Oct 8, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Rules change when a person wins and someone in power doesn’t like the winner’s style of play.

  13. Cody

    Oct 8, 2018 at 7:53 am

    the short and long of it is no, they do not need to ban them completely. it was a stupid rule to begin with.

  14. DJ Morris

    Oct 8, 2018 at 7:09 am

    Make the rules say that the putter MUST be the shortest club in your bag…. End of discussion and problem solved!

    • scott

      Oct 10, 2018 at 11:38 am

      No. Who is to say what length a wedge should be?

  15. andrew

    Oct 7, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    They should keep long putters and remove the anchor ban. What did really change?

  16. ChipNRun

    Oct 7, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    Have you seen the old photo in the Royal & Ancient clubhours at St. Andrews of the man being locked in the stocks for using a “longe putter”?

    The answer is no, the photo doesn’t exist. As BD57 notes, the ban was a “get off my lawn” moment for the USGA.

    And SHAWN nails it too – the longer putter relieves stress on those with bad backs.

  17. 4RiGHT

    Oct 7, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    I’ll make this long story short! Yes!!!

  18. BD57

    Oct 7, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Banning the long / belly putter was the USGA’s “get off my lawn” moment.

    If they were going to do it, the time was back when Orville Moody started using it. But they didn’t, because Orville was a horrifically bad putter “conventionally,” and they knew it, and they chose not to drive him out of the game.

    The situation was similar with the other seniors who started using them – they were older guys, past their prime, and so what?

    The USGA lost it’s mind when they saw younger guys using the belly putter. But they had both hands together on the thing – they just had the club tucked into their stomach. Still had to stroke it; you can still pull or push the heck out of a putt with your hands using a belly putter. But it “didn’t look right,” so – 20+ years after the fact, the USGA told the kids to “get off their lawn.”

    Meanwhile, for those 20+ years, people who don’t play for a living, who want to play by the rules, had been using one form or another of a “long putter” so they could at least NOT DREAD walking on a green – and they get told “you’re illegal, you have to go back to feeling like you have a snake in your hands.”

    Stupid, counterproductive, rule.

    P.S. – don’t use a belly or long putter. Tried the belly putter for a good stretch …. wound up going back to conventional, because it just. wasn’t. better. for. me.

  19. Mit

    Oct 7, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Using stats don’t justify a long putter. Who cares if the stats don’t say it makes you better, the action is not a stroke,

    Using a bad back is not justification. If you can swing a wedge you can swing a putter. And if it hurts to pick a ball, get a suction cup put on the end of your putter grip. It’s not a stroke.

    The entire action of a broom handled/arm locked putter flies in the face of a golf “swing”. It’s accepted cheating in my book.

    No broom handles,
    No arm locks,
    A putter in your hands….learn to deal with it like all the other things we have to deal with in golf.

    Glad I got that off my chest 🙂

  20. Douglas Moore

    Oct 6, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    If the long putter is such an advantage, and putting is arguably the most important part of the game EVERY tour Pro would put it into play.
    If the long putter could cut 1/2 stroke per round, that’s 2 strokes per tournament.
    As far as the guy up top saying he’s personally seen Langer on tv anchoring his putter, you are wrong. When I hold my putter 1/8″.to 1/16″ away, it’s brushing my shirt and you would be mistaken when you accuse me of cheating.
    Put a sensor on all long putters and players. If anchoring is taking place a buzzer or light goes off. Simple and effective.
    Go try a long putter for yourself. Absolutely difficult to master.

  21. Tyler

    Oct 6, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    I have seen Langer on TV anchor his putter. It was obvious and Langer says there is no intent. I can’t believe more players on the Senior Tour don’t speak out on it.

  22. shawn

    Oct 6, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    How did this all happen? Most on this forum don’t know. Here’s the story.
    The long putter originated in the early 1980s. Older golfers with bad backs seized on it as did some pros. The USGA and R&A had to make a decision. They allowed it. Why?
    Because then U.S. President Bush Sr. used it and promoted it. The USGA couldn’t go against the POTUS. Believe it or not…

  23. Eric

    Oct 6, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Rules of golf should establish a maximum shaft length for a putter, this would put a end to the anchoring issues.

    • shawn

      Oct 6, 2018 at 4:59 pm

      In badminton the serve must be hit below waist height and with the racquet shaft pointing downwards. Similarly in golf, both hands must be below waist height at Address.

      • Greg V

        Oct 6, 2018 at 5:17 pm

        I think that this would be a great rule. IT would eliminate the broom stick – which is really not a golf swing (it is a lever action). But it would allow the belly putter – which to me looks like a golf swing.

      • Scott

        Oct 10, 2018 at 11:42 am

        Then how do you hit a side hill shot when the ball is above waist high? It does not happen often, but it can happen.

  24. Brandon

    Oct 6, 2018 at 11:21 am

    Golf is hard. Most people can’t break 90. Nothing should be banned. Why are the governing bodies so intent on driving people away from the game?

    • shawn

      Oct 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      Okay… but should tour pros be allowed to use it? Or only if they can’t break 90?

  25. Kim Hay

    Oct 6, 2018 at 10:49 am

    There is one way to fix all of this. Add to the rules of golf that all strokes must executed with the hands in contact with each other. The long putter action is not a stoke, it is a push. Would you ever hit a drive with the hands separated by 18″? Use any length putter you want as long as the your hands are in some way in contact.

    • Henry

      Oct 6, 2018 at 10:56 am

      I agree they need to tidy things up, but what you’re discussing would lead to many claw style grips being banned as well – that’s a tonne of players.

      • America

        Oct 6, 2018 at 12:23 pm

        Or ton, if spelled correctly.

      • Kim Hay

        Oct 7, 2018 at 11:25 am

        Claw style grips could still be used if there is contact between the hands otherwise it is a push or scoop, not a stroke. New rule description: “A stroke is the action of propelling a ball by striking it with a club held in both hands contacting each other.” Controversy over.

    • TJH

      Oct 6, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      That would then eliminate the claw grip as well

      • Greg V

        Oct 6, 2018 at 5:15 pm

        Why would it eliminate the claw? I use the claw, and my hands are touching. Every pro that uses the claw has his hands touching – not on top of the shaft, but underneath the shaft.

        • JC

          Oct 6, 2018 at 7:06 pm

          Try using a Bear Claw to putt. That’s one sweet way to putt.

  26. Ken

    Oct 6, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Anchoring should never have been banned. They have hurt the average golfer trying to simply enjoy a difficult game. At the height of the controversy with some major winners using anchoring the majority of wins occurred with conventional style putting so shouldn’t that be banned? Need bifurcation of the rules if these are the kind of short sited decisions and can hardly wait until a roll back of distance measures. This could continue the decline of the game

    • shawn

      Oct 6, 2018 at 4:51 pm

      The long putter doesn’t ‘help’ the good average golfer… it helps the decrepit golfer with a bad back and can’t bend over to putt… and get the ball out of the hole either.

    • Myron miller

      Oct 8, 2018 at 12:55 pm

      fully agree. Although I did try the long putter about 30+ years ago. had one specially built for me and tried it for a few weeks. i found that with short putts it was excellent but really really struggled getting the distance right on 20-40 foot putts. Much easier to control regular putter ( but i use a 37″ putter rather than the standard 35″ that is pretty standard. I can’t bend over that well. use tool for getting ball out of hole. easy to use and fully legal.

      same rules for pros and regular amateurs has never made any sense to me. Baseball has long had different rules as does football. College basketball is different from pro’s to college to high school, etc. Don’t know about tennis.

      But image is everything to USGA and R&A. Practicality isn’t meaningful.

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