R & A drops anchor on the long putter

The Dr hit a screamer into the 1st last week. Unfortunately, it rolled far enough into the zone of discomfort to almost guarantee a par putt of 3-4 feet.

Now, most pros nail these, which is one very important reason why they are good enough to mix it with the best. For the amateurs like myself who abhor practice the way nature abhors a vacuum, there are approximately 450 thoughts going through my head at this point.

Do I have my hands closer to my body? Or a little further away with the putter completely flat on the ground? Where’s my right elbow? Should I press forward with my hands Mickelson-style before moving the putter back? How’s my grip pressure? Gee, isn’t the view great … And so on …

But as I tapped in for a 5, I never once regretted having a traditional putter. It didn’t cross my mind.

But would using a belly or long putter have made a difference?

I don’t know, and Golf’s R & A Rules Committee admits it doesn’t know either, despite deciding to implement a ban on the practice beginning in January 2016 (Rule 14-1b).

 

Man, imagine if I could use a REAL anchor!

Man, imagine if I could use a REAL anchor!

Prior to players having the audacity to win major tournaments with the ‘long stick’ (four of the last six), it was never really an issue. It was merely tolerated as a crutch for some of the older players to cure their yips, and it would never really catch on.

But if it actually kept players competitive, whether by being technically superior, or by merely providing confidence, then why wouldn’t it catch on? If they didn’t like it, then ban it early in the same way the PGA Tour banned Sam Snead’s front-on putting.

The R & A’s lack of foresight on this matter, even as they watched children learn the game for years with no knowledge of a traditional putter, parallels other major sporting bodies’ shortcomings. So it’s a small comfort to see that the NRL is not the only organisation that cannot see the woods from the tees!

They have completely missed the boat on this. By watching players develop into touring pros who use the long putter, and who had no reason to expect they would not be allowed to use it, they have implicitly sanctioned its use amongst a generation of professionals. It’s little wonder now that Ernie Els brings up the question of law suits for threatening livelihoods.

As Carol King said, “it’s too late, baby”. We now face the prospect of two tours either side of the Atlantic playing by different rules.

If the R & A cannot, and will not, provide evidence that the putter makes a golfer any more or less successful on the greens, then the basis of their ban doesn’t stand scrutiny, even if, like me, you prefer the traditional stroke because it requires a free stroke.

Even Sam Snead’s front-on version used both hands on the club!

At this point, they may as well ban the high fade, or the low draw.

As Adam Scott says, they have zero evidence.

But they do have an awful amount of evidence about what ball and club technology are doing. Why don’t they do something about that? Or is it really ok to swing a 9.5 degree Volkswagen Golf off the tee?

I’ve learned to accept long putters and, implicitly, so had the R & A, so they will have a fight on their hands.  Even the US PGA Tour has lined up against it.

I like to putt with my right elbow tucked into my side. Is that anchoring? Do I need to change my stroke?

I know I need to practice, but that’s another story.

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