The day or reckoning with the long putter approaches. I told you so.
Karen Crouse wrote an terrific story on the long putter which was the lead story in the Sunday Sports section of the New York Times this weekend. Ms. Crouse provides a fairly agnostic look at the long putter but the article summarizes some great quotes from the past.
There's also an excellent accompanying timeline on the history of the long putter. It is fascinating int he timeline to see Johnny Miller walk the line on the topic whenever you read his quotes. He used one after getting the yips yet you can almost feel his discomfort. I suspect he deep down knows it is not good for the game. Miller is the best announcer in golf (and maybe all sport) because he is the rare broadcaster to straight out say that nerves got to a player. He is often criticized for using the word "choke" on air but that's why he's great. Miller recognizes that it is the potential of the miraculous shot and the tension of craching under the pressure which makes golf so much fun to watch - to both players and spectators. The long putter removes a significant aspect of that tension.
It seems the golfing governing bodies simply dropped the ball on this one. They had many chances to fix this rule and now that they let it get established, there are menacing words that a lawsuit could be forthcoming if they try to ban it (see Keegan Bradley's quote!).
Now, there was always the possibility that the governing bodies feared making the rule in the past for fear that if they lost a challenge in court, the long putter would be here forever. That may not have been the best strategy because they seem to be facing the same problem now and with more money at stake for the professionals who use it and the club manufacturers who sell them (and presumably US Steel considering how long they are). Anyway, this is not just a topic of theTimes because the Chief sports writer Richard Williams of The Guardian in the UK also has this top of mind.
Now, I have always been against the ridiculous long putter and here is hoping the governing bodies go ahead and ban it. Let's say it wasn't an advantage - it still looks unathletic and sad when a player resorts to it -- especially a young player. This cannot be the future any more than shuffleboard or bowling are (no matter what level of althete you are). It appears shame has not been enough of a deterrant. It's time to act.