Long Putter’s Rise to Controversy

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Here is a look back at some significant moments in the evolution of the long putter. 1967 The USGA announced a rule (as of Jan. 1, 1968) prohibiting golfers from straddling the ball while putting, effectively banning the new croquet-style putting in use by Sam Snead (pictured). "The game of golf was becoming bizarre," USGA Executive Director Joe Dey told SI. "It was some other game, part croquet, part shuffleboard, and part the posture of Mohammedan prayer."
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1983 Charlie Owens, a former army paratrooper and a pioneer of minority golf, solved his putting yips by welding two shafts together and having a machinist cut a brass bar into a flying saucer-like shape with a squared face. Thus was born the Slim Jim Putter, weighing 3.5 pounds, the original long putter. Owens had a successful Senior Tour career with the Slim Jim, winning twice in 1986, but he never patented the invention. "That thing was so ugly," he said years later. "I didn't think it was going to be a hit."
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1988 Orville Moody, a notoriously poor putter, wielded a long-shafted putter and improved so much on the greens that he led the Senior Tour's putting statistics. He went on to win the U.S. Senior Open in 1989.
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1991 Rocco Mediate logged the first PGA Tour victory by a player using an anchored, long-shafted putter when he beat Curtis Strange at Doral in a playoff. "I was the anti-Christ of putting then," Mediate said last year. "Trust me, I got some interesting comments on that putter."
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2000 The belly putter made a wildly successful debut as Paul Azinger, its creator, wielded a hot putter en route to a seven-shot victory in the Hawaiian Open. "I was thinking, this is just magic," Azinger recalled.
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2003 Vijay Singh won four times in a single season using a belly putter.
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2009 Few took notice that Argentina's Angel Cabrera won the Masters with a belly-length putter because he gripped it normally and didn't anchor the club against his stomach.
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2011 Keegan Bradley captured the PGA Championship using a belly putter, the first major championship won by a player using a putter anchored to his stomach. CBS golf analyst Peter Kostis predicted during the telecast, "You're going to see a change in putting."
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2011 Bill Haas won the FedEx Cup -- and $11.4 million -- with a belly putter.
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2012 Webb Simpson became the second belly-putting player to win a major at the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club.
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2012 Ernie Els, who once famously said he'd keep "cheating like the rest of them" while anchored putting was legal, won the 2012 British Open with a belly putter. He took the claret jug after Adam Scott, who anchors his long putter to his sternum, bogeyed the last four holes. Correction: An earlier version of this gallery said that Sam Torrance used a broomstick-style long putter to help Europe win the 1985 Ryder Cup. He used a standard-length putter.
12 of 12 Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
2012 On Nov. 28, the USGA and R&A announced proposed Rule 14-1b that would ban the anchored putting stroke. Belly putters and other long putters are not banned under the proposed rule, but the club cannot be fixed against the body. If approved, anchored putting would be banned starting on Jan. 1, 2016.