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LONG PUTTERS


different putting methods and longer putters was considered an embarrassingly drastic, last-gasp effort by PGA TOUR pros to save their careers. Success was a rarity, reserved for players such as Hall of Famer Bernhard Langer, who used different grips and putter lengths for most of his career to overcome the yips. “The main thing stopping me has been


a pride thing because a long putter says, ‘Hey, I’ve got a weakness,’ ” Ernie Els said midway through 2011 as he joined the belly putter throng. But today’s golfers don’t think twice


about using the longer putters—straying from the conventional (33 to 36 inches) to belly length (40-plus inches) and broomstick style (approximately 50 inches). Paul Azinger was one of the first to use a belly putter in action in 2000 after studying the concept. A decade later, older players such as Fred Couples and Vijay Singh led the belly putter transformation and now younger players are at the forefront as others also want a sip of the magic potion.


Consider that in 2011, the trend was to go long (putter) and win:


■ Keegan Bradley, a 25-year-old PGA TOUR rookie, used a belly putter to win twice, including becoming the first player to wield a longer putter to win a major championship. He won the HP Byron Nelson Championship and the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club in a playoff with Jason Dufner. He started using the belly putter more than two years ago. “At the course I played at, some of the old timers would go, ‘You’re too young to be using a long putter,’ ” Bradley said. “But now it’s very acceptable. I can’t tell you how many times I’m in a group where every single guy has got an unconventional putter, especially young guys.” As a result, two veteran players asked


the rookie for advice on how to use the club. Jim Furyk tried out the club in the middle of 2011 and Phil Mickelson began experimenting with a model exactly like Bradley’s during the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. Both eventually switched back to conventional but lent


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more credibility to the trend. “I’ve hit two drivers and no drivers in


Opens, and I don’t mind trying something different,” Mickelson said at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.


■ Bill Haas, the 29-year-old FedExCup champion, changed to the belly putter late in the season and converted three up and downs for pars in a playoff with Hunter Mahan to capture the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club. That included two difficult par putts on the 18th hole on the way to winning the final tournament and the FedExCup. Haas tried out a belly putter early in the season, then went back to a conventional putter, before bringing the belly putter back out in the PGA TOUR Playoffs.


■ Webb Simpson, who placed second in the FedExCup, began using a belly putter in 2004 while in college at Wake Forest as “sort of a joke” while on a family vacation to Pinehurst, NC. He was sold on it after holing nearly every putt during a round with his father. ➤


PGA TOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE 2012 101


Adam Scott uses a broom-handle length long putter.


Webb Simpson began using a belly putter while in college.


© PGA TOUR IMAGES/ CHRIS CONDON/ STAN BADZ ; GETTY IMAGES/ STREETER LECKA/ DARREN CARROLL


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