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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By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”