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Opinion & Analysis

Should the long putter be completely banned?



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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  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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Opinion & Analysis

Brooks Koepka’s coach, Claude Harmon III, on BK’s PGA Championship victory, working with the game’s best, and more



Coming fresh of the celebration of Brooks Koepka’s fourth major win, Koepka’s long-time coach, Claude Harmon III chatted with Johnny Wunder as he was just about to hop on a plane back to The Floridian.

Here are the highlights of their conversation.

JW: Claude how you doin’?

CH3: Uh, I’m hungover!

JW: Brooks is walking off the 18th green after another major triumph. What is the first thing you guys said to each other?

CH3: Well, obviously there was a lot of emotion in that moment, but he told me it was the happiest he has ever been on the golf course, and after everything he’s done, that’s a big statement.

For him to put in all the hard work and to fight as hard as he did on a golf course that completely changed on the last day and come out on top makes me extremely grateful to be a part of the team that supports that. I believe he will find out more about himself from getting through the final nine holes than he would if he would have had a parade coming in and won by seven.

JW: That’s a great point. It seems like he is more apt to win even more majors based on that back nine than he would have otherwise.

CH3: I don’t think if you were watching it on TV you could have any appreciation for just how difficult it was. What DJ did yesterday was impossible and having that up ahead applies even more pressure to a leader. Ricky Elliott and BK are looking at the scoreboard and seeing DJ and 3 under and having no idea how that’s even possible. It was that tough.

JW: I think Brooks stubbornness is part of his true greatness. Would you agree?

CH3: His perspective constantly was “I’m still in the lead and someone is going to have to catch me and this golf course is extremely difficult.” Even after all the bogeys on the back side, he still controlled the lead and kept that mantra. The crowd yelling “DJ! DJ!” actually didn’t piss him off, it woke him up.

JW: How did yesterday compare to Shinnecock? 

CH3: At Shinnecock it was an interesting situation because Fleetwood…posted before BK was even off and in that case, Brooks said it was like playing against a ghost. No matter what he does, Tommy isn’t going to make any more mistakes or change in any way. That’s a tough scenario when you are staring at a number that won’t move for 5 1/2 hours.

JW: What do Brooks and DJ have that people can learn from.

CH3: It’s funny because we hear these cliches in sports psychology all the time, but I believe those two are the living embodiment of ONE SHOT AT A TIME. They don’t look back. Ever.

JW: Speaking on DJ. I’m watching the back nine and thinking to myself this guy is playing out of his mind, it was literally a battle of the best.

CH3: We talk about it all the time in golf, what we always want is the two best players in the world going toe to toe. We had that yesterday and I hope as time goes by we can look at this final round as a battle we will be talking about for a long time. Best players in the world on a tough but fair golf course with the ultimate prize on the line. In situations like this when there is this kind of pressure and these stakes you can look at the leaderboard and see the cream rising to the top. Rory, DJ, Jordan all with good rounds on a really tough day.

JW: You met Brooks in 2013, he showed up in his mom’s beat up Explorer and don’t know him at all. What was your first impression?

CH3: I was introduced to him by Pete Uihlein, his old roommate, and at first glance, he had raw talent and a ton of speed, but no plan. At the time he was hitting a draw and was uncomfortable with that. He told me his current coach wanted him to hit draws, and I said well that’s your fault, not your coach’s. It’s the player’s responsibility to manage himself and the information he’s comfortable with. When we worked on him getting into a fade, he started to click and he turned to me and said “it can’t be this easy.” My reply was “it has to be this easy!” At that level, under the gun, it better be easy. [Golf is] tough enough already.

JW: What were his career goals early on?

CH3: Even then, he wanted to be an elite player who won multiple majors. I was coaching Ernie Els at the time who had just won his fourth major and Brooks was on the Challenge Tour. He was committed to getting there but needed guidance, someone with a plan that wasn’t just his golf swing. Obviously, it worked out.

JW: What would you say is the Harmon secret to getting the best players in the world to peak as often as you guys do?

CH3: My dad told me: “What you don’t say is just as important as what you do say.” At the Masters this year Brooks, in practice, was really struggling. Look, it’s Masters week and I’m not going to go in there and start putting thoughts in his head. At that point, if this is a shuttle launch, we are in the cockpit and there is no turning back. My dad always had his guys have a go-to shot that they “knew” they could hit. Brooks calls it his “fairway finder” which is a squeeze off fade with a driver. I told him to hit a couple of those knowing it might spur some confidence. After a few absolute flushed misses, his confidence went up and he turned to me and said…”fairway finder all day.” The rest is history.

JW: You coach DJ, Brooks, Jimmy Walker and Rickie. Describe each in one word

CH3: Natural

JW: Brooks
CH3: Tough MF

JW: Rickie
CH3: Genuine

JW: Jimmy
CH3: Soulful

JW: Thanks old friend
CH3: Talk soon, thanks man.

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On Spec: Swing weight is overrated



A deep dive into one of the most talked about but truly misunderstood aspects of club building: swing weight. What it really means, and why it isn’t the end all be all for a set of clubs.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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Ari’s Course Reviews: Bethpage Black



Bethpage’s Black course was designed by A.W. Tillinghast and opened for play in 1936. It was immediately considered one of the best tests of golf in the world, and it has tested golfers coming from all over the world in its 83-year history. Bethpage State Park itself has five courses. The Green was the first course built and was originally called Lennox Hills Country Club. In the early 1930s, the Bethpage Park Authority purchased Lennox Hills CC and other adjacent property and turned the whole thing into what is now known as Bethpage State Park. Course architect A.W. Tillinghast was hired to remodel what would become the Green course as well as build the Blue, Red, and finally the Black. The Yellow Course was designed by Alfred Tull and opened in 1958.

Bethpage first hosted a major championship in 2002 when it hosted the U.S, Open. What is somewhat forgotten 17 years later as it hosts its third major, is how much the course had fallen into disrepair by the mid-1990s. Luckily, the USGA could see through all of that and helped fund a complete restoration that was overseen personally by Dave Catalano, the larger than life (in both stature and personality) head of Bethpage State Park. Dave had been working at Bethpage since he was a kid in 1967, picking up papers in the picnic area. It was his baby, and with Rees Jones by his side, they painstakingly restored the Black to its former greatness and into a true championship test of golf. After the PGA Championship, the Black will be back in the spotlight 2024 as host of the Ryder Cup, joining a very short list of courses to host a U.S. Open, a PGA Championship, and a Ryder Cup.

Playing the Black is one of the most unique experiences in the game because of what it takes to get a tee time. There are a very limited number of tee times. They are easier to get if you are a NY resident, but for most of us, it’s first come, first serve. Which in practical terms means they have a parking lot with numbered spaces and people start showing up the day before to sleep in their cars to play. In fact, I can proudly say that the last three times I slept in my car it was just to play at Bethpage. One of those times I didn’t even get out on the Black and had to settle for playing the Red! Should have eaten dinner in the car I guess….

Every time I have slept in the car I have had a great time. It’s a party in the lot with a bunch of golfers hanging out all excited to play the next day. There’s usually a few beers around and one of the times, someone called a cab and went and got 50 cheeseburgers from McDonald’s at 1 a.m. to show us all some top-notch NY hospitality! That’s definitely not an experience you will have going to play any other top courses!

Once you finally do get to sleep, the staff wakes you up around 4 a.m. to go get in line and get your tee time and course assignment. Then you can go back to sleep or go eat breakfast or hit balls or whatever you want until it’s your turn to tee off. On your way to the tee, you see the famous WARNING sign telling you that the Black Course is an extremely difficult course which they recommend only for highly skilled golfers. Hopefully, you didn’t lose your tee ticket because you will need that to get onto the tee and trust me, they aren’t messing around with the rules!

The golf course itself sits on a huge, sprawling, fantastic piece of land with abundant elevation change and lots of random contours. The bunkering is big and bold and not to be messed with. There is abundant long fescue and numerous trees off to the sides of the holes which combined with the beautiful bunkering makes for a very beautiful setting.

The first hole is a downhill, almost 90-degree dogleg right. The fairway is pretty flat and so is the well-bunkered green. The key for the player is to put their drive into the right place in the fairway to get a good angle to the hole location. From here you cross Round Swamp Rd and head to the second, which is a short, uphill par 4 of 389 yards. The fairway slants a little right to left and the green is elevated and can be a challenge to hold. The third is a par 3 that plays about 160 yards normally but has been brought back to 230 the PGA. This is one of the more interesting greens on the course; it’s wide on the right and falls away as it gets to the back and tapers to a smaller, more narrow section on the left. Bunkers flank the short left and right side of the green.

The fourth hole is vintage Bethpage Black and probably the most photographed on the course. A huge bunker flanks the left side of the fairway off the tee of the 517-yard par-5. Another, even more huge bunker looms at the end of the fairway cut into the from right to left. The tee shot is downhill but the rest of the hole is uphill. There is a second fairway to layup over the big bunker where you will have a partial view of the small, flattish green that falls away slightly and is protected by two more deep bunkers to the front and left. The fifth is a monster par 4 of almost 480 yards. A massive fairway bunker guards the right side of the fairway which is also the best angle to come into the small, elevated green guarded by two deep bunkers short and one over the green.

FARMINGDALE, NEW YORK – MAY 15: A general view of the fifth green is seen during a practice round prior to the 2019 PGA Championship at the Bethpage Black course on May 15, 2019 in Farmingdale, New York. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

No. 6 gets back into the more open and less tree-lined part of the property. The tee shot is semi-blind and over a hill. The landing area is pinched by bunkers on both sides. The long hitter who can carry the hill should have a very short shot into the flattish, oval shaped green that’s open in front and protected by bunkers on both sides. No. 7 is a converted par 5 that plays as a par 4 for the PGA. At 524 yards, it’s very long and the tee shot requires a long poke over another large fairway bunker. The green is again pretty flat and protected by deep bunkers in front.

The eighth hole is unique for the Black as it’s the only hole with water in play. A 210-yard drop shot to a green with some slope from right to left and front to back and a ridge running on a diagonal angle through the middle of the green. The shot must carry the pond short of the green and there is a deep bunker left and a hillside right. Nine is a 460-yard hard dogleg left that drops down off the tee and back up to the green. Another very deep bunker guards the left side and can be carried by the longer hitter. The right side of the fairway is the safe play off the tee but leaves an awkward shot out of a gully up to the green. The green is heavily guarded in front again by deep bunkers.

As the players make the turn, they are confronted with another long, tight par 4 of just over 500 yards. Hitting the fairway is key here as the fairway is heavily guarded by bunkers and fescue. The green sits on the other side of a little gully and is guarded once again by a set of deep bunkers. The 11th hole is 435 yards and has probably the most interesting green on the course. It has a little false front and two distinct tiers with some nice internal movement. A really good green on any course it stands out on the Black amongst what is mostly a flatter set of greens. 12 forces the players to carry it 285 over a massive cross bunker on the 515-yard par 4. The green is back to the more typical flattish oval, and characteristically is guarded in the front on both sides by deep bunkers. 13 is a par 5 of over 600 yards. One of the least bunkered holes on the course, there are a few bunkers on the left and a great little cross bunker about 60 yards short of the green that obscures the view of the green and will make the players think twice about going for the green in two. 14 is the best chance for birdie on the course. A par 3 that plays only 160 yards over a valley to a narrow, long green.

After walking off the 14th green the players cross back over Round Swamp Road to the home stretch of the course. 15 is always the hardest hole on the course for me when I play the Black. The hole plays 460 yards. The tee shot is flat to a fairway that bends slightly right to left and has no bunkers. The second shot is massively uphill. Over a hillside set with bunkers and a small section of fairway to a green set into the top of the hill and guarded by the deepest bunkers on the course. A very hard hole to make par if you miss the fairway or miss the green. The 16th has a downhill tee shot that will test the player’s judgement of the wind if there is any present. The green is well guarded especially to the right and is small with a little slant to it. The 17th is an uphill brute of a 210-yard par 3. The green is 45 yards wide and is huge. However, it does not look big from the tee as it is set amongst a veritable minefield of bunkers waiting to swallow up any wayward shots. The players walk up a hill to the 18th tee and stare down at a fairway that gets severely pinched in the middle by the huge bunkers on both sides. The green is then back uphill, it’s medium sized with a slight kidney shape and two deep, artistically shaped bunkers set into the hillside short.

All of this adds up to a great test of championship golf.  The course is pretty straightforward. There is not a ton of strategy other than hit it long and straight and make as many putts as you can. The greens are mostly pretty flat so there should be a lot of chances for birdie for those that can reach the greens in regulation. That said, the course has a ton of character when it comes to the land movement and elevation changes as well as the massive, artistic bunkers. New Yorkers are VERY proud of the Black and for a very good reason. It’s a fantastic golf course. Golf needs more top courses like the Black that are accessible to everyone and challenging to even the best players in the world.


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