It could be D-day for long putters. Are they legal or illegal? A weapon or crutch? A trend or fad?
The United States Golf Association could be ready to speak out on the matter. The USGA and the R&A — golf’s two governing bodies — met at the U.S. Open to talk about the long and belly putters anchored into the body. Results of those discussions will be addressed publicly at the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
The putters continue to stir up plenty of debate in golf circles. Either you're for them, or against them, with little area for compromise.
Purists believe they should be banned. Players using long and belly putters just a few years ago were labeled as bad putters who had gotten desperate, but it's hard to argue against the bulging bank accounts of the players using them today. The stereotype that long putters are just for old guys with frayed nerves on The Champions Tour no longer applies.
Long and belly putters dominated the PGA Tour last season, winning nine times. Keegan Bradley became the first player to win a major with one "anchored" to his body. He used the Odyssey White Hot XG Sabertooth Belly Putter at the PGA Championship last August. This season, Webb Simpson won the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club with a long putter, joining Bradley in the major winner’s circle on the strength of the elongated flatstick.
Bill Haas captured the 2011 Tour Championship and the $10 million Fed-Ex Cup with his. Adam Scott's major resurgence was sparked by a long putter. He plowed through the field at the Bridgestone Invitational, a World Golf Championship. Even Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Jim Furyk tinkered with them in competition.
Equipment manufacturers are eager to cash in on the craze. They're releasing more styles and retail stores are devoting more space to them. TaylorMade Golf boldly predicted a 400 percent sales increase for its Corza Ghost Putter and the Ghost Spider Putter brands this season.
There are many points of view on the subject, but ultimately, the USGA and R&A will have the final say. Mike Davis, the USGA’s executive director, believes a decision is forthcoming by the end of the year.