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Long Putter Use Way Down Through West Coast Swing

Jason Sobel has obtained Darrell Survey results showing long putter use is way down in 2013 (they do not track whether players anchor). So far the 94 who have used the long wand made 61.7 percent of cuts and scored nine top-10s, slightly above the average.

Broken down, the data shows a decrease at each event: Hyundai Tournament of Champions (from seven to five); Sony Open (24 to 21); Humana Challenge (30 to 18); Farmers Insurance Open (31 to 13); Waste Management Phoenix Open (25 to 11); AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (25 to 10); and Northern Trust Open (33 to 16).

With most of the success coming for long putter users coming in Hawaii, Sobel says:

Yes, the game’s governing bodies still must determine whether an anchored putt should be defined as a legal stroke, but any notion that this is greatly affecting the game at its uppermost level has so far been summarily dismissed by the statistics.

Reading that, I realize the "no competitive advantage" talking point really is problematic either way it is used as an argument.

Those claiming it--while ignoring the major championship wins and improved putting by several players in majors where pressure is greatest--must have a hard time keeping a straight face.

But to also claim there is simply no advantage--that it can be "summarily dismissed"--helps the governing bodies say, okay, we do not see this as a traditional stroke, you say there is no advantage, everyone with back issues can keep using a long putter, so what's the problem again?

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Reader Comments (7)

I think it would be more interesting to look at specific players and cite the number that have switched from anchored to non-anchored based on the proposed Rule change. Numbers being down at events are interesting but could be misleading depending who was in the field. Other than Bill Haas, what players that were anchoring now are not?
03.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew
Just like us regular folks a number of PGA Tour players saw others using it with some success, gave it a whirl, and discovered not only is it not more effective, for most it is less effective.

A simple fad.

How out of touch is the USGA? They mistook a lil' ol' fad for something that would completely change the way the next generation of golfers would learn the game! #CLUELESS

PS...have a friend who owns one of the largest golf shops in the country, 2 days ago asked him specifically about this -- his long putter sales mirror the Humana stats above, down about 50-66% from the peak.
03.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
The drop in the numbers of long putters could be a combination of different things.

Three things quickly come to mind.

1. Did those using long putters change this year to belly putters?

2. The players that can putt conventional, but have tinkered with the long putter and belly putters, have gone back to conventional putting methods before they become addicted to anchoring like a meth addict.

3. The ones still anchoring, will the ones still anchoring right up to Jan 1, 2016 because face it, those are the ones that statistics will show had to switch to an illegal stroke because they have the YIPS!!

The YIPS have always been a part of the sport at the professional level. The greatest YIPPERS OPEN finish in the history of the sport happened at Pebble Beach in 1994. The entire back nine of the tournament on Sunday was a contest between Johnny Miller and Tom Watson to see who was going to YIP it the least coming down the stretch. Talk about scaring junior golfers into making a new career choice!
As far as I know in terms of the count "long putters" includes both belly putters, and long putters that are used in the method that Adam Scott and Tim Clark employ.
03.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
DTF...if the USGA is out of touch for taking a fad for a major change in methods, where does that put Finchem when he said that 20% of golfers use it and the PGA of America when they implied droves of people would quit the game of golf over a ban?
03.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
My only thought is that Finchem misspoke or was confused in the moment. Clearly everyone knows 20% is not a good number and I'm sure Finchem knows that too. Has anyone had a chance to ask him about that number yet?
03.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
The speed of the greens has more than doubled since the 1950's, and players used to be able to leave the pin in the cup while putting. So, why is it OK when golf makes it more difficult to putt, but not OK when players and equipment manufacturers fight back?
03.6.2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Blade

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