Larry Canning: In defence of long putters

Tim Clark has used a long putter since his teens “out of necessity”.
Tim Clark has used a long putter since his teens “out of necessity”.

By Larry Canning

WATCHING Tim Clark make the winning putt in the Canadian Open, with his Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball Broom Stick Putter, has prompted not only me, but a bunch of other disillusioned golfers to throw more verbal darts in the general direction of the Clubhouse at St Andrews.

Clark, who happens to be one of the nicest blokes playing the game, was one of the more vocal players arguing to prevent the R&A and its trans-Atlantic doyen’s of wisdom, the USGA from outlawing the anchored stroke back in 2012. The rule change will come into effect on January 1st 2016.

The 38-year-old South African has used a long putter since he was in his teens because as he describes It, “It’s out of necessity”. This bloke simply has no other choice due to a congenital problem with his arms which prevents him from supinating his wrists and causes discomfort when he tries to use a short putter. [See: Tim Clark struggles back into the winners circle]

Coincidentally, on the same day, another long term broom stick wielder Bernard Langer made absolute mincemeat of the field during the Senior British Open when he took the title by a record 13 strokes. Bernie may not have a congenital issue with his arms but his famous battle with the dreaded yips, which nearly forced him off the tour, is clearly a medical issue as well.

For those of you who think “it’s all in the head”, just ask any chronic sufferer, but for your own safety, make sure your standing outside a broom-putter length away from that person.

I have a friend at Mount Broughton Golf Club who plays golf because he loves it. He also has a medical problem preventing him for using the normal length putter. With the date of this destructive new rule looming, my mate is trying everything from head weighted, shaft weighted, butt weighted, to buying a heavier golf bag and putting on weight himself….but sadly with no result.

He is now wondering how he will be able to continue playing the game he loves and constantly asks me if there’s is any good news coming down from the R&A regarding Amateurs having to change.

Adam Scott is another pro who will no doubt be affected by the new no anchoring rule
Adam Scott is another pro who will no doubt be affected by the new no anchoring rule

The only chance we had of being heard by the R&A and the USGA, was a submission by the President of the US Professional Golf Association, Ted Bishop to the Amateur governing body asking for an extension on the date for amateur golfers. Bishop, who has been against the ban since it was first mooted, referred to his proposal as a “Grand Father Period” to allow amateurs some more time to find another way to overcome their issues and teaching professionals a longer period to find ways to help prevent their pupils from taking up tennis.

Bishop said during the Masters in April, when he told R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson, that the PGA of America was looking after the best interests of the amateur golfer, Dawson pointed a finger at him and said, “That’s not your role.” Incidentally, Dawson has announced his retirement on September 2015… three months before the carnage begins.

Needless to say The US PGA’s submission was refused and the date for all long putter golfers to find another sport remains 1st Jan 2016.

Who do the R&A talk to when a decision like this are made? Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer? Or the people who work bloody hard all week so they can afford to have a hit on the weekend with their mates without humiliating themselves?

Then you read where the R&A proclaim to being committed to promoting and sustaining golf all over the world. What about this mission statement from the USGA on their website?- “The United States Golf Association promotes and conserves the true spirit of the game of golf as embodied in its ancient and honorable traditions. It acts in the best interests of the game for the continued enjoyment of those who love and play it.”

Maybe they need to listen to “those who love and play the game”!

Clearly they haven’t spoken to my mate at Mount Broughton Golf Club.

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