Goodbye Long Putters

January 15, 2013 Jon Roy

I never liked them anyway.

I always thought that using those long putters and anchoring them into your belly, chest, or fist was contrary to the spirit of putting.  And now the USGA and all of the governing bodies for golf around the world have taken action to eliminate these putting strokes from the game.  They will be gone for good on January 1, 2016 – which gives just over three years until they will be gone.  Long putters aren’t being banned, to be clear, but rather the act of anchoring a club into your body or a fist made to anchor the club to your body.

It’s about time, in my opinion.  Over the past few years I’ve witnessed more and more young players trying out the long putters.   I’ve witnessed countless touring pros experiment with them.  I’ve seen college teams that insist on their players using them (i.e at Washington State).  And I’ve listened to hundreds of otherwise hard-working people explain why they want to look to the long putter to solve their putting woes.

The major problem that I have had with these anchored putting strokes is that they are usually picked-up in place of doing the hard work it takes to have a reliable putting stroke.  In our “Big Mac” culture, the long putter stands as yet another shortcut and substitute for hard work.  Why cut vegetables and boil water if you can get in line in the comfort of your car at a local drive-thru?  Why work on making your stroke and your mind more capable of good putting if you can just anchor the putter into your drive-thru belly?  I have always felt that the anchored stroke is a short-cut to making more putts.  So much of our culture is intent on creating quick-fixes and band-aids, and it’s refreshing that golf can take a stand and represent a more traditional value system – one based on hard work and overcoming challenges the old fashioned way (with effort).  We are so quick to solve our issues with technological innovation and/or pills, that it’s refreshing to hear the conservative voice of golf uphold the traditions I hold dear.

I don’t blame anyone for using these long-putters in recent years.  While I do hate long-putters, I don’t hate anyone who uses long putters.  Especially for professional golfers who are searching for paycheques and trying to feed their families.  The truth is, it is an easier way to putt for many people because it eliminates some of the “degrees of freedom*” in our strokes.  It is less likely for your stroke to break down if you reduce the parts of the stroke that might go awry, and so if your livelihood depends on low scores you’d be crazy not to entertain the notion.  Especially if those you’re playing against are using them…  But I was really starting to get distressed as I would watch players aged 6-10 years adopting this stroke.  It’s one thing for pros, but it just felt totally wrong to witness junior aged players using this method.

But finally, the governing bodies of the game have stepped in and banned these training aids from being used.  It will be 3 long years until they fully disappear, but at least the day is now on the horizon.  Good bye anchored stroke, and nice try to all those who advocated for it.  My only fear is now what will the technological world look to design to shave the next strokes with as little effort as possible from the consumer?  What will be the next invention that promises lower scores with little to no work?  We’ll see, but you can be certain that thinktanks are already being formed to capitalize on this opportunity.

Ultimately, the justification for this ban hinges on the definition of a stroke.  Specifically, the need for each stroke to be “a free swinging motion” – the most important thing is that the whole club swings – that you have to control the whole club with your stroke – not swing an object which is anchored to your body.

Click here for a great diagram of what is and is not allowed beginning in 2016.

From my perspective – Goodbye anchored putting stroke, and not a moment too soon…

But how do you feel about this impending ban?  Let me know your thoughts.

Degrees of Freedom in putting: For a good post explaining this concept – click here

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Comment (1)

  1. Brian Meharg

    Well put, Jon. I share your feelings regarding the long putter and the reasons many pros have gravitated towards it. I DO feel bad for pros who have used nothing BUT an anchored stroke their entire careers…it should have been nipped in the bud long ago, just as the sidesaddle stroke was. Can you imagine Sneads record if they had continued to allow it?
    I’d be curious to know how many junior elite golfers you’ve seen using the long putters in recent years.

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