Legality of the Long Putter - Part 2

By Frank ThomasMarch 6, 2008, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is the latest in a weekly Q&A feature from GOLF CHANNEL's Chief Technical Advisor Frank Thomas. To submit a question for possible use in this column, email

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Every week we will select the best question and Frank will send one lucky golfer a personally signed copy of 'Just Hit It'. Last week's lucky winner was Fred, with his question about The Legality of the Long Putter.
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More on the Legality of the Long Putter
Matt, Gish, Jim, Joe, Andy, Joe and many others,
The long and belly putter issue has stirred up a hornets nest ' again.
When I tried to explain some of the problems associated with a rule trying to control or dissuade the method of use, people weighed in to give me their suggestions and also let me know in some cases how much they disliked the long or belly putter.
The flood of emails weighing in on this subject started when I tried -- in my answer to Fred last week-- to define some of the many problems associated with trying to enforce a style or method of use rather than adopt an equipment specification which would make this style awkward and therefore dissuade golfers from using this method.
I find that those who object to the long and belly putter, do so based more on the style of the stroke than the advantages that these putters may provide.
Below are some (only some) excerpts from comments I received;
I have never really had an issue with the long putter per se because of it's benefits to the bad backs of the world like Freddy Couples. I do take issue with the belly putter because of how it makes 3 points of contact with the body. I would suggest a rule that limits the points of contact directly to the body'- Matt
Actually, the length of the club is not the objection. It is the anchoring.
No part of the club can touch or come in contact with any part of the body above the wrist or the torso or head, except for incidental, unintended brushing contact. would eliminate Bernard holding the club against his forearm'- Gish
Sorry Frank, youre just being too P.C on this subject. If kneeling on a towel (ala Craig Stadler) is building a stance, then sticking the butt end of a putter into your gut or anchoring the long putter to your chest creates a fixed artificial pivot point. If you cant putt go to one of the mini tours.'
- Jim
I think long putters and belly putters and the saw and claw grips should be illegal, left hand low like Jim Furyk is fine. No one has won a WGC or MAJOR with out using a standard putter or putting grip VIJAY SINGH IS GREAT PROOF he has won all his majors with a 'standard' putter and grip.' -Andy
Just make the rule state that the putter length must be equal or less in length than the shortest golf club in a players bag or used by a player. Joe


Bottom line:
I believe that the only practical way to deal with the objectionable manner--to some--in which these clubs are being used is to make this style of putting awkward through equipment specifications.
Joes suggestion (with some edits) The length of a putter must be equal to or less than the shortest golf club in a players bag is the most practical solution. Because monitoring any other restriction regarding how to hold the club or what it may or may not touch will be a nightmare for those who must administer and enforce this rule.
A problem with doing away with the long and belly putter is that we may lose some very valuable golfers who, without the option to use these instruments under the Rules of Golf, may find the game too frustrating to play because they are victims of an uncontrollable affliction, The yips. The conundrum is how to best help those in need while not supporting those who are just exploiting the altruistic rule.
Faster Courses
Dear Frank,
Just completed reading your book, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had some hesitation in buying as I thought it would be more technical and I would not understand all the tech jargon. I was pleasantly surprised by the book and think you put just the right amount of tech info in the book so that I understood exactly what you meant.
I take it you are a 'purist' which is a good thing!
I read the last chapter of the book 'Saving The Game'and understand what you are saying. I wanted to ask you about point #4. Build Faster Courses. Are you also saying we need time limits on a round of golf? If so, do we pay for the round by the hour or a set fee for 18 holes?

Thank you for your kind comments and I am so pleased that you enjoyed my book, Just Hit It.
I tried to minimize the technical jargon and provide only the important stuff to get a basic understanding about how equipment works. I then provide a guide of how best to select your equipment to enhance your performance.
I believe that golf is one of the most addictive sports available to us, but also a very personal activity which we enjoy in the company of others, outdoors and even to get some exercise. When we understand that our wants and our needs are sometimes at odds we are in a better position to appreciate why we play this game. The challenge is the very essence of the game. If we ever found that magic club ' which in looking for it is so much fun and part of the charm of the game ' the search would be over. Then what?

Unfortunately, commercialism has had a good and bad effect on the game. We have been picking the fruit but not fertilizing the tree. As a result, participation is decreasing and we are not attracting new golfers into the game and making it less attractive to those who are already participating.
Some of the major problems are the cost and time it takes to play as well as the difficulty of many course layouts. Course designers are starting to recognize that the average golfer does not enjoy a course longer than 6,600 yards and based on our extensive survey, most golfers would prefer a 6,200-yard course. By providing multiple sets of tees we are tempted to move to a set longer than the appropriate challenge for our game affecting our enjoyment of the round. Unfortunately we let our egos get in the way of good common sense.
If we are able to get our egos under control and play from the right set of tees as well as change some of our bad habits we would reduce the time to it takes to play. This would make the game more enjoyable and when approaching the 18th green, we would wish that there were more holes to play rather that being relieved that the -- nearly five hour round -- is over.
Dennis, I dont think that we should charge by the hour or by the hole but have an option of playing six, eighteen or even twenty-seven holes if we wanted to. And play a course which will provide an adequate challenge for our skill level. Par should be an achievable score on every hole from where we play the hole, not impossible even with our best shots. If this is not the case we are playing the wrong set of tees or the course is inappropriately set up.
We all need to get together and help resolve some of the problems the game has and certainly make the introduction to the game more user-friendly. We can all help and I hope my book will get us started on the right track.
Thank you for your support.
To those of you who have not ordered 'Just Hit It' yet, this week I will be sending signed copies to the first 50 orders recieved. Click Here to order.
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. He served as Technical Director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN System and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email
Frank Thomas

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.