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Sunday, June 17, 2012

PERFORMANCE ENHANCING PUTTER CHEAPENS US OPEN 

Webb Simpson carded a two-under par 68, saving pars and recording birdies down the stretch while others yielded to intense pressure, executing a brilliant save from a hole in the fringe of the 72nd hole, to win the 112th United States Open.

Simpson seems a nice enough guy and on this Fathers Day Sunday he played well enough to claim one of golf’s most cherished titles. Unfortunately, he became the second player in two years to win a major golf championship with a long grounded putter. Keegan Bradley (also a talented golfer and a very nice man) won the Professional Golf Association Championship in 2011 using the same kind of putter. In my mind and in the minds of many who love the game, the putter should be deemed illegal because it gives the player an unfair advantage.

Let me explain the physics of the putting stroke. A normal putting stroke with a normal putter must be controlled with the swinging action of the arms and wrists. Any slight rotation or deviation from center will cause the ball to run askew of its target. That is why so many players have a tendency to push or pull a three-foot putt under intense pressure.

The long putter of the type that Simpson and Bradley used to win major championships is planted on the chest. That grounds the club to the core of the body, which is fundamentally still during the putting stroke. The long grounded putter thus eliminates what all golfers know as “the yips.”

The question is: Why don’t all professional golfers use the grounded putter? I believe that most professional golfers feel as I do and do not wish to yield to the temptation. However, if this trend continues more and more golfers will do just that and the game on the greens will be fundamentally changed.

The PGA along with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club have outlawed putters before, most notably the long putter used between the legs pioneered by the immortal Sam Snead. They recognized that it gave him a great advantage and understood that other players would have to follow just to keep pace. After two major championships it is time they did the same for the grounded putter.

It cheapens the win and the game itself.

Jazz.

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