How it all began: A history of the long putter

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 1, 2013, 7:40 pm

While the debate over anchoring putters may appear relatively new, the history of the long putter dates back several decades. Here are some highlights and notable moments in the history of one of golf's most interesting pieces of equipment.

1924: Leo Diegel develops a putting stance which involves a bent-over, elbows-out position with the butt of the putter at his belly button. Competitors called the move 'Diegeling.'

1961: The first patent for a belly putter is submitted by Richard Parmley. It was approved in 1965.

1966: Phil Rodgers wins twice on the PGA Tour with a 39.5-inch belly putter, using a technique suggested to him by Paul Runyan. According to the Associated Press, 'Rodgers shoves the handle of his putter against his stomach and spreads his hands apart before taking his stroke.'

1968: The U.S. Golf Association bans croquet-style putting, utilized notably at the time by Sam Snead. USGA executive Joe Dey told Sports Illustrated, 'We made the decision with great reluctance ... but we felt it was the only way to eliminate the unconventional styles that have developed in putting. The game of golf was becoming bizarre. It was some other game, part croquet, part shuffleboard.'

1983: Battling the yips and bad knees, Champions Tour player Charlie Owens begins using a 51-inch putter that he anchored to his sternum. He went on to win twice in 1986 using the putter, which he nicknamed 'Slim Jim.'

1987: Johnny Miller wins the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am using a 46-inch long putter, which he gripped normally but braced against his left arm.

July 1989: Orville Moody wins the U.S. Senior Open using a long putter. Previously one of the worst putters on the Champions Tour, Moody became one of the best almost immediately after switching to the long putter, sparking rumors the club may be banned.

August 1989: After nearly two months of debate, the USGA and R&A announce that long putters will continue to be permitted under the Rules of Golf. At the time, USGA executive director David Fay explained, 'Putting is a very individualized art form. To inhibit a golfer's individual style would take some of the fun out of the game.'

1991: Rocco Mediate wins the Doral Open, becoming the first player to win a PGA Tour event using a putter anchored to his sternum.

2000: Paul Azinger earns his first PGA Tour win in over six years, using a belly putter to capture the Sony Open in Hawaii. 'I was instantly better,' said Azinger, who used the club to make the next U.S. Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams.

2003: Eight PGA Tour events are won by players using long putters, including four by Vijay Singh. 'This is like cheating,' said Steve Flesch after winning the Zurich Classic with an anchored putter. Later in the year, the USGA and R&A announce a maximum length of 48 inches on all clubs – except the putter.

2004: Vijay Singh wins nine times on the PGA Tour while switching between putters – six times with a standard putter, three times with a belly putter. Inspired by Singh, 24-year-old Trevor Immelman wins on the European Tour with a belly putter, which he had been using for only two weeks.

2007: After putting a belly putter in his bag just one week earlier, Sergio Garcia misses a 6-foot putt on the 72nd hole to win the British Open at Carnoustie. He would lose in a playoff to Padraig Harrington.

2009: Angel Cabrera wins The Masters with a 39-inch putter. Although longer than the standard putter, Cabrera uses it conventionally and does not anchor the putter to his body.

April 2011: USGA executive director Mike Davis appears on 'Morning Drive' to discuss a possible ban of the anchored putter: 'We don't see this as a big trend. It's not as if all the junior golfers out there are doing this. No one's even won a major using one of these things anchored to themselves. So we don't see this as something that is really detrimental to the game.'

August 2011: Keegan Bradley wins the PGA Championship, becoming the first player to win a major while anchoring a putter to his body. Later that month, Davis expands on his earlier comments: 'To date there's no evidence they are giving anybody an undue advantage. But could we become concerned some day? The answer is, yes.'

September 2011: Bill Haas uses a belly putter to win the Tour Championship – the fifth win by an anchored putter in seven weeks on the PGA Tour. In total, seven different players win on Tour using an anchored putter in 2011.

February 2012: At the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Tiger Woods states that he is against the idea of anchoring a putter to one's body, adding that he feels the putter should be equal to or shorter than the shortest club in the golf bag.

May 2012: Matt Kuchar wins The Players with a long putter braced against his forearm.

June 2012: Webb Simpson becomes the second player to win a major using a belly putter, capturing the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club.

July 2012: Ernie Els wins the British Open using a belly putter, holing a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. Runner-up Adam Scott, using a long putter anchored to his sternum, misses a 6-foot putt to tie Els on the final hole. More than 27% of the field (43 of 156 players) use a long or belly putter.

November 2012: At age 14, Tianlang Guan wins the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship with a belly putter, earning an invitation to the Masters in 2013, when he will become the youngest-ever competitor in the event's history.

Nov. 28, 2012: The USGA and R&A announce a proposal to ban anchored strokes, beginning Jan. 1, 2016.

Feb. 24, 2013: Commissioner Tim Finchem announces the PGA Tour's opposition to the proposed anchoring ban, saying that it is 'not in the best interest of golf or the PGA Tour.'

April 14, 2013: Using a broom-handle putter, Adam Scott prevailed in a playoff at the Masters to become the fourth player in the last six majors to win while using an anchored stroke.

May 21, 2013: After a 90-day comment period, the governing bodies announce that Rule 14-1b will be enacted on Jan. 1, 2016, when the next edition of the Rules of Golf is published.

June 29, 2013: PGA of America, which had staunchly opposed Rule 14-1b, announced that it would follow the PGA Tour’s lead on the anchoring ban. 

July 1, 2013: The PGA Tour reverses course and announces that it will adopt Rule 14-1b and ban anchoring at its events, beginning on Jan. 1, 2016.

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.