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« State Of The Game Podcast, Episode 2 | Main | Chopra: "When the second one went in, I was like Tiger Woods on steroids." »
Tuesday
Feb072012

Roundup: "Traditionalist" Tiger Not A Fan Of Long Putter

Doug Ferguson leads with Tiger Woods' disdain for the long putter and by default, the act of bracing (sort of).

Woods said Tuesday at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am he has "never been a fan" of long putters that players either anchor into their belly or the broom-style putters that are pressed against the chest.

"I believe it's the art of controlling the body and club and swinging the pendulum motion," Woods said. "I believe that's how it should be played. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to that."

Steve Elling, on Tiger's bold pronouncement during Tuesday's pre-AT&T National Pro-Am presser and revelation that he's been talking to Peter Dawson for many years about the exact wording of a long putter ban.

"My idea was to have it so that the putter would be equal to or less than the shortest club in your bag. I think with that we'd be able to get away from any type of belly anchoring. 

"You can still anchor the putter like Bernhard Langer did, against the arm. But that's still the art of swinging the club, too, at the same time."

It might be tempting to blow off Woods' remarks, but when he speaks, things tend to happen. By way of example, when Woods said he was in favor of drug testing, the PGA Tour stopped dragging its feet and implemented a new screening system within months. He asked for a shorter season in 2005, and got it when the FedEx Cup series was adopted soon thereafter.

"I think you can get away from the belly or the long putter by that type of wording, whether or not they do it or not," Woods said. "Peter's looked into it for a number of years, trying to get it to work, and you [would] actually measure everybody's sand wedge and putter before you go out and play."

Brian Wacker has the other non-long putter highlights from Tiger's Tuesday press conference and the story is accompanied by a one-on-one with Sirius XM's Fred Albers.

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Reader Comments (34)

Ray Floyd won three of his majors with a putter of the same length as his two-iron. In other words, players with short arms and bad backs would be as hurt by this rule as long-putter users.
02.7.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Agree with @Hawkeye...if my putter isn't working, I will be required to putt with my next shortest club??
If we head back to "tradionalist", it wasn;t that long ago players basically rested their hands on their left thigh and made a stroke primarily with their wrists.
I would suggest there are more important issues to be addressed, let's kick off with pace of play
02.8.2012 | Unregistered Commenterhh morant
A Stanford guy came up with THAT answer?! Should have stayed in school a few more years, Tiger.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Smith
Modify the rule so that it says the only parts of the body that can touch the club during a stroke is your hands and possibly the arms (eg: Langer's forearm grip thing he had going on awhile back...didn't help him at Kiawah though)....nothing else.

In competitive swimming there are rules pertaining to how one can perform say the backstroke...they used to do the 1st 50meters underwater (more efficient hydrodynamics) mostly, make the turn and then sprint the last 50m...they made it so they can only "submarine start" for the 1st 15 or 20meters I believe...they also put limits on those cool shark suits. Normal swimmers can still buy and use em...just not at sanctioned meets. Golf could do something similar.

Jamming the end of a club into a body part to overcome the shakes should not be allowed to happen at the highest levels of the game IMO. Tiger had a good quote there about golf being about using your body, club, arms to work in unison like a pendulum...long putters create it automatically...or make it ALOT easier to feel...hence they are nothing more than teaching aids in my book...and there is already a rule in place for that.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
John Paramour thinks that making the putter the shortest club is a good idea-so does Tiger-and so do I !
Not sure if that equates to great minds thinking alike but it could be a start!
02.8.2012 | Unregistered Commenterbonnie banks
This should be a non-issue and never should have been allowed to go this far. All this talk about changing the rule and Grandfathering in the players who are using the broomstick, boat oar, or anything that anchors into your body is nonsense! It destroys the integrity of the game these days. I'm sure the forefather's who invented this great game would be shaking there heads that this very issue has never been properly addressed.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterVKM
- Hawkeye

I'm not sure about the "shortest club" rule either. For me, and many others, the argument is not about the length it is about anchoring the putter which should be banned.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatt
Nice to see Tiger actually answer questions-that is what golf fans want. As for his long putter response: it's a start and somewhere to start from.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin
I think the shortest club suggestion was Tiger's solution to how to make anchoring on the chest impossible. Nice to hear Tiger asked some different questions, and give some different answers
02.8.2012 | Unregistered Commenterelf
agreed - - kudos to stephanie wie for not asking the same stupid questions we get every TW press conference
02.8.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjmr
The effect of Tiger's suggestion may have a bit of merit to it, but what he's saying is that a player who's 4-foot-6 and a player who's 6-foot-6 have to use a putter that's essentially the same length. That is beyond ridiculous.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Smith
elf and jmr are on the money. If you ask Tiger a touchy feely question about the state of his game, you will get a BS answer. Ask him about rules, slow play, course set-up, course design, UNC-Duke game you may get a real answer.
Only one grip. No more than 12" in length.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom T.
Tom T.

Guys would just get used to holding the shaft so that wouldn't solve the problem, just adds a bit of inconvenience.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered Commentermatt
No part of the body except the hands, including forearms, shall touch the putter when stroking the ball.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterFan
Just to the opposite to what soccer does - allow the putter, or any club, to touch any part of the body that you can't use while playing soccer.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob
The belly putter will be banned on tour within two years. In this regard, Tiger's a bit behind the momentum curve, but his voice might help accelerate things a bit.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
It really is great to hear Tiger be asked some good questions and supply some good answers.

You wonder why this didn't occur to Tiger and Steiney and the rest of Team Tiger a long time ago. Talk about something else besides porn stars, no matter what people want to hear. This is good. The best golfer in a generation, talking intelligently about golf.

Of course, the first post in this thread points out why "equal to or less than the shortest club in the bag" might be an unworkable standard. Still, I give Tiger high marks for thinking about the subject, and for giving a decent answer. Can it be an equipment rule (easily done, but hard in application) or a technique rule (hard to write, but more effective to the intended result)?

Actually, if it were easy to write a corrective ban on belly putters, I think the USGA would have written one 10 or 15 years ago. I think it is hard to do.

Look at the Sam Snead croquet putting; the USGA banned it almost overnight because it was easy to write a rule; both feet on one side of the extended line of the putt. That took care of it. If it were easy to write a no-anchoring rule, I think the USGA would have done so just as fast as with Snead's croquet putter.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
Tiger's idea is good. Simple. Easy to interpret.

Ol' Ray would just have to have used a shorter putter. He'd have managed.

Jeff - a six foot six guy uses proportionally longer shafts in all of his clubs than a four foot six guy, so if they're using the right equipment, their putters shouldn't be 'essentially the same length'.

To the 'only hands can touch the putter' guys, that won't stop the broomstick, as the top hand itself can be jammed against the body to brace the club.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavie Strath
"When using a putter no part of the club shall be anchored to any part of the body other than the hand or arm, whether such anchoring is passive (as when the end of the putter pivots from a point on the torso) or active (as when the top hand anchors the putter to the torso at the pivot point)."
Of course "club" could be substituted for "putter" in my rule. Problem solved. ;-)
"No club may be shorter than a player's putter or putters".

KLG - nice one, but might still be open to interpretation. Lots of players 'anchor' the elbows to the side of the body. Now, you can pull the elbows backwards and bring the hands towards the torso until the wrists, and even the heels of the palms, are touching the torso. At what point are you anchoring?
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavie Strath
Tiger's idea (and others who have said the same thing before) doesn't work.

You can't make the "putter" shortest, or equal to the shortest, club in the bag.

The word "putter" is nowhere to be found in the rules of golf. It is merely a club. Golfers call it a putter because of what it is generally used for. If this rule came into effect, then golfers would start putting with their "drivers." They will just call their long putters "drivers."

The rules of golf limit certain dimensions for a club and the club that golfers use for putting typically pushes the limits in a few areas (ie can't be deeper that the width of the face). But there is no definition in the rules for a "putter."
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob
Bob, let 'em putt with their drivers, and see how they go.

How about "a club designed primarily for use on the putting green must be the shortest of all a player's clubs " etc etc
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavie Strath
Sorry, Rob.
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavie Strath
@Davie: Anchor your elbows, knees, ankles, wrists to each other or to the body all you want, as long as no part of the *club* is anchored to the body (except for the hands and arms).

Revision
"When making a stroke no part of the club shall be anchored to any part of the body other than the hand(s) or arm(s), whether such anchoring is passive (as when the end of the club pivots from a point on the body other than a hand/arm) or active (as when the top hand anchors the club to the body at a pivot point other than a hand/arm)."

If someone wants to use a long putter as Langer did or as Cabrera does, that's fine. Club length is not the problem. The problem is the relatively static pivot point, which removes at least one degree of freedom from the swing and thus constrains the stroke by making it more stable and reproducible. Better even than a beta-blocker, probably.

This shouldn't be that hard. ;-)
Most wedges of 58 degrees and higher are 35 inches (or sometimes even shorter) in length.

If you required the putter to be the shortest club in the bag, I bet you'd hear a lot of tall tour players balk, because their standard length putter may currently not even be the shortest club in the bag. I'm pretty sure my LW is 34.75 - my putter is 35 inches. Even though I'm not anchoring the shorter putter, I'd still be screwed by that rule.

Besides that, there is no definition for putter in the rules of golf, as other people had mentioned. There would have to be a lot of re-writing, not exactly making the rules simpler.

As for anchoring, this may be a moot point, but the club's not really anchored against the *body* - it's only touching your clothing, right? How would you confirm that you're actually anchoring it, i.e. that it's pressed against your body?
02.8.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex H
@ Alex H . . . you would be "screwed" by a quarter of an inch? Send me your paypal and I will be happy to pay the $2 to have it shortened by an irrelevant amount. :)
02.8.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjmr
I went to Golfsmith the other day to pick up some balls, and the practice putting area was surrounded by belly putters!!! Oh, and if I can't putt with anything longer than my sand wedge, how am I supposed to put with my driver after I break my putter in half???
02.8.2012 | Unregistered Commenterg_r_c
'The club used for strokes on the putting green' would be an acceptable wording.
There would need to be an exemption for a 'putter broken during the normal course of play' during that round-also easy to write.
The players physical stature would not be an issue either-as a previous poster says taller people use longer clubs etc..
02.9.2012 | Unregistered Commenterbonnie banks
Have you all forgotten that it wasn't so long ago that Tiger admitted he'd tried out the belly putter but couldn't take to it because of 'lack of feel' issues?

Methinks Tiger is being a tad disingenuous in promoting his solution particularly given he's not as strong as he used to be in knocking in those knee-tremblers.
@j jmr - I admit that I'm guilty of having been overly dramatic :-)

In any case, I bet quite a few tour pros wouldn't bee too happy...
02.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex H
Broomstick putter style (What Adam Scott is doing now) is still OK imo...at least he's got his hands on the club and nothing else. With the belly putter, there are technically 3 points of contact on the club (belly, and your two hands). In terms of simple mechanics/physics...more contact points equals more stability/consistency. Broomstick putters still have 2 points of contact.

After thinking about this...there are 2 ways to solve this dilemma:

1) Mandate that there can only be a MAX of 2 body contact points on the club. Each arm counts as one "contact point". One handed belly putting would now be OK as would anchoring to forearms, armpits, navels, sternums, chins, sphincters, etc...get creative folks!

2) Re-classify the belly putter as a teaching aid thus prohibiting it through the back door...grandfather the guys currently using it for 12 months and then take all the left over long shafted sticks behind the barn and shoot em!
02.10.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
A "putter" is defined in the Rules. It's right there in Appendix II. Those are Rules too.

1. Clubs
a. General
A club is an implement designed to be used for striking the ball and generally comes in three forms: woods, irons and putters distinguished by shape and intended use. A putter is a club with a loft not exceeding ten degrees designed primarily for use on the putting green.

Putter grips can be different (separated by 1.5 inches minimum), putters can have two striking faces unlike any other clubs (this is what did in those two-faced chippers), etc. There are already PLENTY of separate "rules" regarding putters. They're just in Appendix II - right where the new "rule" banning belly putters would go.

FWIW I'm in favor of the "single grip that can't be more than 11 inches long from the butt of the club" rule (along with a rule perhaps on the maximum diameter of the shaft). If people want to putt by jamming the putter in their belly and gripping the steel shaft, by all means, let 'em. I don't think many people will go that route.
02.10.2012 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski

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