Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Shane Bacon take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing email@example.com, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @shanebacon. Today we kick around the long-putter debate, after Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship with a similar device.
Bacon: For the first time ever, a golfer won a major championship with a long putter. Keegan Bradley's win marked not only a big move for young Americans, but also for those old, cranky folks that live and die by the pool cue. But I ask you, is this that big of a deal? There are a ton of good players on tour that use a lengthy putter these days, and I'm sure we will only see more and more win the big events?
Busbee: It's a quiet but definitive change, now that people who eat dinner after 4:30 have switched to the long putter. We're such an elitist bunch in golf, looking down on any deviation from the accepted norm ("Metal clubs? Not for me! It's hickory and persimmon till the day I die!") until someone actually has success with that deviation, and then we're all over it. I'll be honest, outside of a few strokes at the local golf shop, I've got zero experience with the broomstick. You ever tried one?
Bacon: Being a lefty, it's tough to find anyone that is both wrong-handed and wrong-puttered, but I have fooled around with one, and just couldn't get that comfortable with it, but obviously it's one of those things that takes some time getting used to, and when you do, the flood gates open. Just think, the last two weeks we've had champions using some variation of a long putter, and had a packed leaderboard full of them in Atlanta.
I think more than anything, this goes back to the fact that with this much money on the line, you'll try anything that helps shave some strokes.
Busbee: That, and anything that'll give you some kind of mental comfort, even if it's cheaply acquired. ("Your old putting stroke sucks! Try this!") Good to see that the pros are as susceptible to that kind of quick-fix thinking as all of us who buy into those golf magazine articles, year after year, that promise to take your game below the next ten-digit marker, really for real this time, we promise.
The USGA, in the past, has questioned whether the long putter is even a legit club, and while that debate seems over, it's still a legitimate question, since the body parts involved are so different between a long putter and, say, Robert Garrigus's kiddie model. Do you see the long putter as giving an unequal advantage?
Bacon: Honestly, putting is so mental I think they could come up with something that literally putts it for you and it wouldn't necessarily give you that much of an advantage. Like you said, if it gives you peace of mind, go for it, even if some say it's an unfair anchor system with the long and belly putters.
I have seem just as many people that suck at putting with the long putter than I have those that do with the short version, and I feel like anytime someone is using the long putter, they've exhausted just about every other idea in the short game handbook and finally settled on this one. Also, it says a lot about them that this was the first time a major winner actually used it. I feel like it if was THAT much of an advantage, they would have won majors years ago.
Busbee: That does it. I'm switching to a pool cue. Seriously. A literal pool cue. I'll Tin Cup it from here on out.
Now your turn. What are your thoughts on the long and belly putters?