Photo courtesy of onlyagame.wbur.org
We’re nearly nine months out now from the day the ruling bodies of golf decreed the ban of the anchored putting stroke, which currently takes effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
I bring this up because I recently completed some reporting on a piece you’ll see in the coming weeks about what’s transpired in equipment and teaching since then.
Among other things, Dave Pelz has a video circulating online that proposes four or five legal uses of the long putter, including anchoring it inside your forearm and using it croquet-style, which is legal because his method doesn’t straddle the line.
If I recall correctly, Pelz claims that current long putter poster boy Adam Scott is experimenting with the forearm method to attempt to keep the long putter in his bag as long as he can. Can you blame him?
Anyway, there’s more of an equipment take in my story that I’ll leave alone for now, but when I was working on the story, I recalled me own – brief – experience using the long putter. I thought I’d share it since everyone I tell on the golf course seems curious, especially those who use the long putter and love it and will be most affected by the ban.
A couple months after starting classes at the Golf Academy, we had a putting guru from Chicago named Todd Sones in to look at our putting strokes and have us properly fitted for putters (yes, there’s a process to do that).
When my stroke was evaluated, I was identified as a long-putter candidate. My speed control was good, but my path and overall club control needed work. Thus, it was deemed that having something to stabilize my stroke, namely anchoring, would allow me to focus on path and a proper takeaway.
I tossed a long putter in my bag and practiced with it off and one for a few weeks, in particular doing drills along the edge of a mat, which would let me know if I was taking the club inside again.
While cumbersome to get used to, I wasn’t entirely dissatisfied with it and actually pretty pleased with it from close range. The shorter stroke I used did seem to be quite effective for short putts. The farther out I got, however, the worse I got, especially on long putts, where I had to pick up the putter head on the take away.
The on-course putting strategy I devised was to use my long putter on short putts – say 10 feet and in – and my standard putter on the rest.
Well, besides sacrificing a club for an extra putter in my bag, my plan proved fairly flawed, partly because the weight difference between the two clubs left me without touch in either.
I’d baby the long ones and crush the short ones. I had lip outs galore with the long putter and soon after my putting was a total shambles.
I tried a few rounds exclusively with the long putter and mostly just got to endure ribbing from my foresome and another parade of missed putts.
Mostly I dropped it because I never got used to the weight. It’s a lot of golf club; too much for my liking.
I use a conventional putter now, a used Cleveland I pulled out of a bargain bin, and I’m the best putter I’ve ever been. I wouldn’t dream of changing.
The combination of the right club and a few sound lessons that have stayed with me have made me a very competent, and sometimes streaky-good, putter.
I won’t get into my personal feelings about whether the club, or the stroke rather, should or shouldn’t be in the game, but this whole issue doesn’t bother me the way it seems to many other people.
I’m for anything that makes the game easier and more accessible for people (seriously, isn’t it hard enough for us non-pros?), and the long putter is keeping some of these people in the game.
I don’t scream “cheater!” and get up in arms over the anchored stroke because I don’t play the game competitively other than with myself and the course.
I don’t relish the little side bets or games that many seem to, nor do I currently play in a league. I’m a competitive person at many things, but not golf. I view it as more social and cheer anyone’s success, knowing, like running and many other sports, it’s all hard-earned if done by the rules.
Yet, I will still watch with interest as to how this all plays out, because I’m sensing the long-putter crowd is retrenching and not going quietly on this.
But for me, personally, my long-putter journey has long been over. I’ll be anchored to my conventional putter for many, many years to come.