The Long Putter Debate


So, after a long putter 1,2 at the Open with Ernie Els winning with his belly putter, and Adam Scott coming in second with his broom handle variety, the R&A have brought the debate on banning them back to the table.

Other than for prolonging the careers of our aging stars on the various senior tours, you don’t really hear much pro-long putter chat. All the talk is about anchoring the putter to the body, it not being in the spirit of the game, tradition, etc, blah, blah, blah! Various heavy weights have put their two cents in recently, Tiger’s suggesting that there should be a limit of the length of the putter (no longer than your shortest club).Padriag Harrington reckons it’s only a matter of time before they’re gone, with a couple of years grace, like the recent change of grooves.

So, do they make you putt any better? You could say, they would never have taken off if they didn’t. You could also look at Adam Scott’s performance on Sunday at The Open, did he putt particularly well? Okay, so the Open’s top two places used them and the US Open winner plays a belly putter, but at the Masters, and last year’s Open, the top of the leaderboard mainly consisted of those playing traditional short putters. If they were that good, wouldn’t everyone be using them?

In the beginning they were a means for the older generation of golfers to combat the dreaded yips and that doesn’t particularly bother me, but I do feel somewhat uneasy watching a 31 year old using a broom handle putter.

I hear some arguments about only banning them in the professional game, allowing amateurs to enjoy their game for as long as possible. There’s some logic in that, I suppose, you don’t want a whole raft of people just quitting golf when they reach a certain age because they can’t putt anymore. Having said that, I see plenty of people on course who can’t putt very well (myself included) and I’ve never actually seen anyone use a long putter.

Whatever happens, it’ll be 2016 before any rules are put in force and it’ll be very interesting to see what effect it has. Personally, I think that there are so many different winners these days with so much different equipment, it’ll make precious little difference to fans watching golf.

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Experience Prevails at The Open. Again.

Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf ClubSo another year, and another winner of the Open on the wrong side of 40. Kind of gives us all hope that it’s never too late, doesn’t it?!

Much will be made over the coming days how Adam Scott will handle his last four hole capitulation. All eyes will, no doubt, be on him for the last major of the year at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Much like Rory McIlroy at the Masters in 2011, Scott was expected, by most, to ease home to his first major having a fairly comfortable lead going into the final day. Couple that lead with the fact he had played so well for the first three days, what could possibly go wrong? Let’s see what happens for him in South Carolina in a couple of weeks.

At the start of play on Sunday it looked like GMac was going to be the man to challenge Scott, but he really didn’t bring his A-game to the tee. +2 for the front nine wasn’t a disaster as Scott scored the same. However, 10 and 11 where GMac’s downfall, particularly on 11 when he looked like us mere mortals for that second shot into the trees straight left.

And then there was Ernie. Like the final group he was also +2 for the front nine and looked, for all the world, an outsider at best. Then the back nine came and Ernie really turned it on! Not sure if Ernie really thought he was in the reckoning on the 18th green but in his usual unflappable manner he just brushed in what was to be the putt that won him his second Claret Jug. Very gracious in victory, I don’t think there’d be a single golf fan who would begrudge him the win.

Tiger didn’t make the charge that was expected of him by the vast majority of the media. In certain quarters, more seemed to be made of the fact that he was 5 behind before Sunday rather than Adam Scott being 5 ahead! His shenanigans in the bunker at 6 will probably get repeated a few times over the next while.

On a bit of a side-note Andres Romero finishing last (of the players making the cut) with Carlos Tevez on the bag? Not sure he was taking it totally seriously, which may be reflected in this +12 score for the day. Okay for the Wednesday pro-am, but seriously, is that not a little disrepectful both to The Open and also to the caddie profession as a whole?


The 141st Open Championship

Royal Lytham and St Annes Golf ClubI’d like to open the blog with a preview of the 141st Open Championship, to be played this coming weekend at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Course.

The talk over the last couple of days is how the rough is the toughest seen in many years, even more so than at “Car-Nasty” back in ’99, with Tiger suggesting that it’s almost unplayable in places. Darren Clarke reckons that there could be a lost ball or two, even with spotters.

I just hope that it doesn’t end the same as Carnoustie 13 years ago with the actual win being over shadowed by complaints and moaning about the conditions and difficult set up. It’s a bit clichéd to say, but it’s the same course for everyone and if you put the ball in the rough, it’s your own sweet fault! You don’t hear anyone complaining about it at the US Open, they tend to revel in the difficult courses set up by the US PGA.

So, who’s going to win then? Inevitably, Tiger’s the current favourite (at 9-1 on Paddy Power) with Lee Westwood, who many seem to think has his best chance this year, is second favourite. In a total reversal of the world top four Rory and Luke are next in the betting.

However, if avoiding the rough, and finding fairways is going to be such a huge factor, perhaps we should be looking at driving accuracy stats as a starting point. Tiger’s down in 61st on the PGA Tour, Lee is 61st on European Tour and Rory is 68th. Luke Donald is top of heap being 17th on the PGA Tour. On the other side of the pond, though, Luke is sitting pretty in 1st place.

It might also be worthwhile considering that the last 9 out of the last 10 majors were won by first time major champions so maybe we’ll be looking at a complete outsider picking up the Claret jug on Sunday evening!

Personally, I’d like to see Lee or Luke getting the job done finally and putting to bed any suggestions that they don’t deserve their lofty world rankings because they’ve never won a major. I would suspect that, if they did, it would not be their last.

With all the similarities to Carnoustie in ’99 I wouldn’t rule out Paul Lawrie. Despite a missed cut at last weeks Scottish Open, he’s had a pretty good year so far with 6 top ten finishes including one win at the Qatar Masters.

Having said all that, as a long time fan, I’ll back Darren Clarke to retain the Claret Jug in some style!

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