April 09, 2011
When he arrived on the golf scene in 2004, Adam Scott appeared to be the epitome of the 21st-century golfer: insanely talented, surfer-dude casual and smooth enough to snag a Hollywood girlfriend or two. But in the ensuing seven years, he's never quite capitalized on his potential, and remains one of the most talented players never to win a major.
He's also still only 30 years old, which makes the sight of him wielding one of those ultralong broomstick putters such a shock. If you're a casual viewer of golf, chances are you've rarely seen these big sticks in play, and with good reason: they're the reputational equivalent of Mom Jeans or black socks with shorts. They're what you bring out when you don't care what anybody thinks anymore. Naturally, they're big business on the Champions Tour, where the senior golfers are long past worrying about how they look on the green.
The putter dates back to the mid-1980s, when Charlie Owens began using a 52-inch-long putter on what was then the Senior Tour. Rocco Mediate became the first PGA Tour player to win with one in 1991 at Doral.
As Golf Digest's Jaime Diaz noted earlier this year, Tom Watson has little patience for long putters, saying that the broom-sweep "isn't a golf stroke." But the USGA, which regulates which clubs can be used on the course, counters that long putters "are not detrimental to the game. In fact, they may enable some people to play who may not otherwise be able to do so."
Long putters are the equivalent of the underhanded granny free throw in basketball: you look ridiculous, but you actually can gain some accuracy. If you can get over the fact that the long putter is the last refuge of the golfer who can't find the bottom of the cup with a map, you might just see a bit of improvement.
And heaven knows Scott could use a little help on the greens. He ranks 175th in putting average and 183rd in putts per round, which is only slightly better than you could do putting blindfolded. So, hey, whatever works.
For Saturday, at least, it worked just fine. Scott's 67 was one of the lowest of the day, and put him into the conversation for the Masters championship. One more round of good putting, and Scott will have a green jacket. We're pretty sure he wouldn't mind looking goofy to earn one of those.