Previously, I have written that although the belly or long putter was an effective training tool and short-term solution, I did not see it being a career-long alternative to the short putter. Well, on Sunday, Keegan Bradley became the first player with a long putter to win a major championship. This accomplishment comes on the heels of Adam Scott’s WGC victory in Akron, Ohio, with the broom handle. Today, my friends, I begrudgingly eat a little crow.
I remember some years ago NBC Sports commentator Johnny Miller said something to the effect that a “6-foot-4-inch tall American who was an athlete and grew up using a long putter would dominate golf someday.” Although it is too early to crown Keegan Bradley as that player, it certainly looks like Miller’s statement was a prophetic.
Just to be clear, I am not anti-long/belly putter, and one of my students, Ernie Els, has made the transition to a belly putter, at least for the short term. However, my research still shows the greatest putters are using a traditional putter. When I think of the best putters I’ve ever seen, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Ben Crenshaw come to mind immediately. We’ve never seen them use the long stick in one of their major victories.
If watching Keegan and the other guys on tour stroking the long putter makes you want to buy one, proceed with caution. No single piece of equipment will change your putting woes. Proper technique and practice is the only way to succeed on the greens.
Keegan handled the long putter as well as I have ever seen, given the speed of the greens at the Atlanta Athletic Club and the circumstances surrounding his first major appearance. Do I think this will start a migration from the short stick to the long broom? Hardly. Putting with a belly or long putter is as much an art as it is technique. One thing is for sure: The success of Adam Scott’s and Keegan Bradley will rekindle the debate over the place of the long putter in the game of golf.
Until next time…cheers! (Photo: Fred Vuich/SI)