The Loop

Long putter talk: Wonder drug or cell phone?

August 09, 2011

If we're going to go forward with the idea that the long putter is chosen because of some kind of affliction, it's worth noting some comments from a couple of those who've chosen to adopt the long putter recently. Reading these makes one wonder: Is the long putter more like a wonder drug (curing an illness) or a cell phone (a smarter solution that helps all perform a task simpler, smarter and better, particularly those most adept at adopting to the new technology)?

From his press conference today, here is Adam Scott's assessment for why he switched:

"Well, it wasn't one specific tournament or anything or I reached boiling point.I came back from the Hawaiian events this year early in the year, and I lost my rhythm quickly when I was in Hawaii with the putting.  Frustrating, because one day it's there and the next day it's not, and that's kind of how the whole of 2010 went.  I think my coach, Brad, had seen enough of that, and he knew how frustrated I was, because the rest of my game was in good shape.

"While I was in Hawaii, he had gone down to a golf shop at home and bought a long putter and started messing around with it himself. When I went home, I had no idea, but he came over to my place and we started putting, and he had this long putter, and out of curiosity, he knew I was going to ask about what's going on here.

"So I started putting with it, and then he started telling me all of the good things he saw about putting with the long putter. And, you know, a week or so in, it was feeling really good. After about three weeks, we decided, this is it, I'm going to go with the long putter when I next play, because it just really gave me that awareness of how a putter should swing again. "And I was forcing it so much with a short putter, and it took a few weeks of practice at home, but I felt comfortable with it straightaway."

He continued in another response to a question about the long putter being a last resort: "I'm not too sure where I go from here if this doesn't pan out for me. Someone will have to invent something."I guess it is considered kind of a last resort.I mean, I was very frustrated and I hadn't thought about it. So yeah, I guess it's a last resort.

"Got some interesting reactions.Certainly turned a few heads when I showed up at the Match Play with a long putter. But to be honest, I think a few people have taken notice of the way I'm rolling the ball. I mean, it's a noticeable improvement from where I was.

"So you know, as they have watched me putt on the putting green and stuff, it's gotten guys' interest, that's for sure."

Also talking about it today was Charles Howell III, whose scenario seemed similar as he went from conventional to belly:

"I practiced with it at home for more than two years and I could putt well with it there, but never when I tried to put it in a 'game' situation. Then at Harbor Town this year I putted just awful and my caddie had seen enough and he said 'We're bringing it to New Orleans.' It was like a first date. I was nervous and my first putt was an eight-foot birdie try I missed by two cups. But I stuck with it and after about three weeks I felt very comfortable with it. Part of what brought me to try it is that the guys who use them tend to putt well with them, so why not?"

--Mike Stachura