Belly putter, long putter, broomhandle.
Call it what you may but whatever name you use to describe it there is no denying it is the witch the USGA and the R&A are burning at the stake right now.
The ruling bodies of golf have decided the use of the long putter is something which tarnishes the integrity and purity of the game of golf by allowing a person to anchor a club against their chest or their six pack (or keg for most) and then make a stroke.
While I agree with the principal of the decision I feel this is not as simple as is it a stroke or not.
There are more red flags attached to this one than you might find around Red Square.
Topping the list is the fact this decision comes after the putter has been around longer than Rory McIlroy has been alive so what in the name of Old Tom Morris took so long for these protectors of the game to come to this conclusion?
(Oh, by the way, the new rule doesn’t come into effect until 2016 as well.)
The ruling apparently has nothing to do with the perceived advantage a golfer might get by using the anchored putter but there are differing views on this.
The top 20 putters on the PGA Tour this year used a regular-sized putter so score one for them but three of the major champions this year did use the broomhandle so you decide.
The ruling bodies are enamoured with a new word when it comes to the rule – ‘bifurcation’ which means splitting a body into two parts.
The suggestion was to apply the rule to the professionals but leave the amateurs with the option to use the putter but the suits declined.
I would suggest the high handicapper who finds more enjoyment in the game by sinking a few long putts is more of a benefit to local courses than having a person quit the game because of a piece of equipment.
There are many out there who use the long putter because of a lower back issue and now with this rule you might see them pack it in as opposed to going back to a putter which causes more pain than gain.
I would think having people stay with the game and maybe some new people picking it up would be the goal but it seems on the surface this might send a few more people to the sidelines instead.
It appears the boys have left a back door by which to escape this dilemma by setting out a 90-day feedback window so there is the slim chance the rule does not get installed but I wouldn’t bet on it.