Belly up … to the putter, that is

By John Phipps, Worldwide Golf Shops

Big-name club designers and garage tinkerers alike have messed around with putter lengths and head styles for years. I have seen putters that caught my eye and putters that outright made me laugh. My dad was always one to seek a better mousetrap on the greens and came up with some very interesting homemade-looking clubs.

Until now, the various tours only saw the longer putters used by players hoping to save what was left of their careers. Now these same putters are contending – and winning – not only at regular Tour events, but majors as well. Case in point being Ernie Els at the Open Championship and Webb Simpson at the U.S. Open. Let the quandary begin.

The hoopla surrounds the USGA rule of golf against anchoring a club to your body when contacting the ball (or something along those lines). While the USGA and R&A governing bodies will not rule on this until the end of the year, here’s my two cents: putting greens are not exactly consistent and smooth; they’re subject to ball marks, spike marks and the like. Just because you putt it where you want does not mean it will go where you want. Hops, bumps and skips are all part of putting. I say putting is difficult enough as it is. If you feel more comfortable with a long putter, have at it. It doesn’t make up for a putt knocked offline by a spike mark.

That’s the way I see it, I welcome the way you see it. Should these putters be illegal?

John Phipps is the director of marketing for Worldwide Golf Shops.

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