First the groove rule, now long putters are under attack? It's drivers, course setup and golf balls, silly
Little whispers began when Adam Scott started playing well at the Masters and then won at Bridgestone. They grew louder when Keegan Bradley took home the PGA Championship with a clutch long putter down the stretch.
Yep, long putters are officially under attack as “unfair.” Among the many discussions in the past week are Robert Lusetich of Fox Sports calling for long putters to be examined. Steve Elling and John Huggan at CBS also debate the new punching bag of the PGA Tour, among many other outlets.
Once again, it baffles me that of all the equipment to put under the microscope, it’s not the driver, the golf ball or defenseless golf course design to distance.
This week, the U.S. Amateur is being staged on Erin Hills and is the longest golf course in USGA history. So far, the players say the course doesn’t even play long. It’s a testament to a golf course that might work on cheap, rural land in the middle of nowhere and cost $200-plus (click here for my Golf Channel Travel Insider Blog with my full beef).
And it doesn’t help that there is an outcry whenever the rough is made penal, just look at this year’s RBC Canadian Open, staged on a tight, classic golf course that proved plenty challenging. Long-bomber John Daly still contended, proving it wasn’t anti-power, you just had to hit it straight and use your noggin.
Yet tour players called the rough excessive penalization (but it wasn’t rough that made Adam Hadwin blow his chances with a four-putt on Sunday – maybe he should have used a belly putter!).
But for classically designed, affordable courses built on limited acres (not unlike Shaughnessy C.C. in Vancouver) that were built where people live and like to play often, it’s another punch in the gut.
As long as the golf ball is allowed to go long and straight, and championship course design means wide fairways and 7,700 yards with little rough, the equipment manufacturers will continue to make better, straighter clubs and balls. It will help their business, but if we’re going to keep more of the thousands of golf courses in business and relevant, the ball and the driver have to be the target - not PGA Tour pro’s bellies.
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