The Long Putter is Cheating
The first time I ever saw the long putter it was in the hands, and resting on the chin, of Orville Moody.
For those old enough to remember Moody was one of the first players to really cash in on the Senior Tour and if hadn’t been for the elongated putter he likely never would have earned a cent.
Moody was a great ball striker but a horrendous putter. Still he was so good at getting from tee to green that he managed to win the U.S. Open in 1969. It was his only PGA Tour victory.
He won 11 times on the Senior Tour, all with the long putter. It saved his career, as it did for many others who did not have the right stuff to hole putts with a traditionally shafted blade.
The long putter is cheating, regardless of whether or not the rules of golf allow them, and this extends to the more recently developed belly putter.
In both cases the player is able to anchor the club to his or her (although I have never seen a woman using them) body, which creates an artificial stability with which to execute a pendulum swing.
Arnold Palmer, who had an awful time with his putting as the years proceeded (they call it the yips) refused to ever use the longy.
Sam Snead putted croquette style for awhile later in his career. When that was quickly outlawed by the USGA, Snead was forced to putt from the side of the ball. He once told me that if croquette-styled putting was illegal than the long putter certainly should be as well.
I was amused when Scott McCarron criticizing Phil Mickelson early in the season because “Lefty” was using an old Ping Eye 2 wedge in tournaments, taking advantage of a loophole in the rules that forbid the utilization of square-grooved clubs staring this year
McCarron said that while technically the club was still legal (it since has been deemed to be illegal) using it was a violation of the spirit of the game.
McCarron has made a lot of money using the long putter, which many of his fellow pros feel violates the ‘spirit’ that he seems to hold so dear.
One of those is Rhode Islander Brett Quigley.
A couple of years ago, while chatting at the RIGA’s annual awards dinner, Quigley said that he felt the long putter should be against the rules because the player was able to anchor the club to their body.
Brett is not the only one who feels that way.
Former tour player and current Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee who said, “There are a few people, some within the USGA, who will say allowing the belly putter and the long putter is the most egregious oversight the USGA has allowed.”
Another player who has problems with the long putter is Scotland’s Colin Montgomery, who has long chastised both the USGA and the Royal & Ancient for ignoring what he believes is an illegal piece of equipment.
“Long putters — be they anchored to the chin, the chest or belly — all give the player the three pivotal points of two hands and the body rather than just the two hands,” said Montgomery. “You would never be allowed to have a brace that helped to keep your right arm on target when throwing a dart. Nor would you be allowed anything to steady the moving arm in snooker. It is extraordinary, to me, that golf officialdom has not acted on this score.”
Then there is the belly putter, the very close cousin of the long putter.
“I’m not interested in the belly-putter. It should be banned,” said South Africa’s Ernie Els. “I think nerves and skill in putting are part of the game and you should take a tablet if you can’t handle it. It’s become such an easy way to putt. You push the putter into your body and then you can make a perfect stroke.”
In my mind the only reason why the long and belly putters have not been banned is the reason why so many wrong things are allowed in this world – money.
It’s the real reason we have gas or electrical carts (many clubs make them mandatory), why we have a handicap system (without one many would quit the game) and why there are so many training aids and different style clubs. Everyone is trying to buy a good game. Nice but it’s all phony.
I do think there’s a place in the game for the long putter; For people with bad backs, just the way carts are a great thing to have for those who are physically unable to walk the golf course.
Oh, there’s one more place where the long putter would fit in nicely. At a roundup. It looks, for all the world, like a branding iron.
(Tim Geary is a Rhode Island based freelance writer with over 35 years of experience. He once used a long putter — to get his club out of a tree).