The saying in the headline is attributed to humorist Will Rogers. He could not understand how a person could hit a ball from 150 yards and end up three feet from the hole, but then miss the ensuing putt.
He must not have been a golfer.
Putting has been the bane of golfers for centuries. Has there been any club more invented, re-invented, and discarded than the flat stick? For such a simple tool, there has also been plenty of controversy. In 1904, Walter Travis won the British Amateur using a center-shafted Schenectady putter. Shortly after, the R&A banned the putter from use, although there is no proof that the putter was responsible for his win. More likely, it was the fact that he was the first American to capture the coveted trophy. Sam Snead used a face-on croquet style putter, which was banned from competition in 1967.
Today, the rub is concerning the long putter. People want it removed from the game. The USGA is evaluating its use and just might send it to the trash heap. I say lighten up. I have seen just as many short putts missed with long putters as with standard ones. If my friends are any indication, like most people, the stick will be used until they miss a few putts, and then it’s on to the next model that feels good on the golf-conglomerate-store carpet. One of my buddies has a new putter every other week. Putting is such a mental thing that people would use a palm frond if they thought it would make a difference.
So, I say, let them be. As long as everyone has the ability to use one, it is okay by me. There is no advantage if the putter is readily available to all competitors. Besides, some people are just better putters than others, no matter what is in their hands.