Okay, let’s get straight to the meat and bones of the issue about whether long putters offer unfair advantage over standard size putters. Of course they do, and that’s the reason I converted to the long putter exactly 12 years ago this month!
Truth be told, after a dozen dirty years with the long stick, nothing special happened to my putting game, and there’s no reason to celebrate. Bottom line – the long putter results in less three putts than the standard size putter that I used for 25 years.
So, what’s the beef? Tim Geary and hackers like him start whining and bellyaching loudly that long putters should be outlawed, only when they reach into their wallets and pay off yet another lost $5 nassau.
The switch to the long putter was an easy decision. The short-stick to long-stick transition or my putting intervention began on a spring golf junket to Myrtle Beach in 1998, where I was hitting the driver and mid-irons well. One glorious round at Wicked Stick that week included hitting 12 greens in regulation on the par-72 layout. The problem that day is not that I lost a small fortune, but that I shot 92, taking a mind-blowing 46 putts on the fast, undulating greens. Ouch!
Painful to recall, even more disastrous to describe missing short putt after short putt, green after green. Did I have flu-like symptoms to blame? No, I had a case of the “yips.” Yes, the dreaded “yips” is one of golf’s unspoken dirty words, second only to “shank.”
Lousy stuff happens on a golf course, but nothing compares with a round that takes 46 putts, which was more than half my total score. Next day at True Blue, I tap 42 putts. Another day at Pawley’s Plantation, the ugly putting index meter shows 41. Notice a nasty trend here?
My putting is questionable but averaging 40 per round had me thinking about quitting in frustration. My options were to take up tennis or boating, or even the dumbest of all sports – NASCAR! I could’ve gone to a phychiatrist for weekly anger management classes, or pay a pro for putting lessons.
This player hit putting hell in 1998. There are no twelve-step programs on putting where “I could admit that I was powerless over putting and that my putting had become unmanageable.”
Instead, that April, I “invested” the best $100 ever in my game and bought a 46-inch Zebra model long putter. The rest of my putting story is history. Today, I am a healthy, recovering “yipper.” I dream of getting around 18 holes with 27 putts, but will settle for 36!
Step two in my putting recovery program involves thanking the golfing Gods a/k/a the USGA for allowing the long putter to be used by players like me to restore me to golf sanity, if there is such a place.
Traditional long putter users believe that our common putting welfare should come first, and that putting recovery depends upon long putter unity. The only requirement for long putter use is the desire to putt less. The primary purpose of the long putter is to carry its message to opponents (Geary and hackers) that it is the weapon of choice when the going gets tough over those knee-knocking 3-foot putts.
The long putter has become my new best friend. And like a loveable little puppy it does not talk back, although I talk to it quite a bit with a host of four-letter words! I wish I were a better listener in the early years of my undistinguished competitive golf career, because I now know you “drive for show, and putt for dough.”
One final long putter confession – the last standard size 28-inch putter I owned was last seen splashing in the middle of the pondside 18th green at TPC Myrtle Beach in April 1998!
(Tom Gorman, a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, International Network of Golf and Golf Travel Writers of America, is a Boston-based freelance golf writer.)
WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?