Speaking at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, February 7, 2012, Tiger Woods revealed that he thinks long putters, specifically those that players can anchor into their belly or press against their chest, should be banned from the game. Woods also stated he has offered a suggestion to the Royal & Ancient (one of golf's governing bodies) about language that could be written into the official Rules of Golf.
"My idea was to have it so that the putter would be equal to or less than the shortest club in your bag," Woods said. "And I think with that, we'd be able to get away from any type of belly anchoring." So wrote Doug Ferguson, AP golf writer, in his article Woods offers solution against long putters.
Long putters are not anything new, even used on the Senior or Champions Tour for more than 25 years. What has changed is the type of players using them.
Traditionally (if 25 years can be a tradition), the long putters were seen as a final option players might turn to late in their careers when they became desperate, after all else had failed. For many, it may have been a matter of pride that kept them from trying out a longer club.
25-year-old Keegan Bradley became the first player to win a major championship using a belly putter, when he won the 2011 PGA Championship. Bill Haas won the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup, also using a long putter. Bradley and Haas are only two of many young professionals whose putters are one of the longest clubs in their bag.
Woods is also quoted, again in Doug Ferguson's article, as saying, "I believe it's the art of controlling the body and club and swinging the pendulum motion. I believe that's how it should be played."
Having never tried a long putter (too proud?) I cannot say first-hand whether they provide an advantage. No matter your equipment, you still have to read the green and execute. Modern golf equipment is vastly different from when I started playing. With large heads (some are enormous), graphite and other shaft materials, and the changes in ball technology ... nevertheless, to be successful, proper shot execution is still the key.
I am a traditionalist, as Woods claims to be on this topic, and I like what Tiger said about the "art" of putting. However, I totally disagree that long putters should be banned.
Harold Andrews has played golf, competitively and recreationally, for nearly 50 years and considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest golfer of all time.
- Tiger Woods