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Masters 2013: Why Adam Scott's Putter Won It All and Should Be Banned

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Masters 2013: Why Adam Scott's Putter Won It All and Should Be Banned
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The length of time Adam Scott has with his putter might be shorter than the length of the club itself.

The anchored putter is one of the biggest controversies in golf today. After Adam Scott sank both his birdie putt on the 18th hole on Sunday to force a playoff and his birdie putt in the playoff itself to win the 2013 Masters, the debate whether or not the extended putter should be allowed on the tour started up again.

The controversy began to pick up some steam only a couple short years ago. When Keegan Bradley won the 2011 PGA Championship with a belly putter, it started a fad that only grew in popularity.

Mike Davis, executive director for the USGA, showed golfchannel.com that the usage of an anchored putter among professional golfers has increased from 2 to 4 percent in the 1980s up to 15 percent in 2012.

The belly putter was made famous in 1999 when Paul Azinger won the Sony Open by seven shots.

Azinger originally first used the club in a mixed-team event in Florida before the Sony Open. In two days he made 13 birdies and an eagle before losing the event in a playoff.

Since then, the belly putter has become more and more of a staple in golfing today.

Big-time names in the golf world have begun using the controversial club. Some of the tour's best, including Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar, and Keegan Bradley have all recently started using it and have found success while doing so.

Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Keegan Bradley eyes up a putt at the Masters last Saturday.

Bradley became the first golfer to win a major while anchoring. Webb Simpson became the second to do so after anchoring during the 2012 U.S. Open. Both golfers earned all their wins on tour while using a belly putter.

After Els won the 2012 British Open and Scott won the Masters on Sunday, four of the last six major winners have won using an anchored putter. Four anchormen, Scott, Kuchar, Els, and Tim Clark all finished in the top 13 at the Masters last weekend.

With all of the newfound winning on the biggest stage, the debate continues among golf critics: is the anchor putter legal and should it be outlawed?

The problem with belly or long putters is that it gives a distinct advantage to the player using it.

When I golf, I use a traditional putter, one that’s length equals that of my wedges. I rely on my footwork, striking ability and being able to keep my wrists in place. If my wrists become loose when in midst of my swing, I have the chance of changing the direction of my putt.

When using an anchoring putter, I am suddenly able to place the grip of my club in my stomach or near my chin, taking away the problems with your wrist movements. The movement becomes more of a pendulum motion, eliminating the problems that can come with your nerves in your hands.

The argument that Azinger makes for the anchoring mechanism is that there have been other advancements in the game that are more obvious than the ones these putters bring.

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''It's okay for manufacturers to figure out game improvement, but if a player figures it out, we're going to ban it,” Azinger told golfchannel.com.

Over the years producers of golf equipment such as TaylorMade-Addidas, Titleist, Cleveland, and Calloway have advanced the game of golf dramatically, whether introducing titanium clubs or increasing the “sweet spot” on a driver to increase maximum accuracy.

But these advancements have helped the gentleman’s game while these putters take something away from it. While I agree that the “sweet spot” size should be taken down a couple sizes, having the ability to anchor a putt allows for a more perfect putting stroke.

All in all, it eliminates having to concentrate more when you putt and to control your club.

You don’t see that in any other part of the game. The player has to control his club when driving or when hitting any woods, irons or wedges. But when anchoring, more control is given to you, lessening your chances to make a mistake.

USGA director Mike Davis said it best.

"Throughout the 600-year history of golf, the essence of playing the game has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball. The player's challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge."

The USGA has already announced that they have proposed a ban on anchored putters, but it wouldn’t come into effect until 2016, when the new rules of golf are published.

But that isn’t enough.

I agree that they should be banned, but after Scott beat Angel Cabrera on the second playoff hole at Augusta, the USGA needs to find a way to outlaw the club sooner rather than wait another two-and-a-half years for the rule to be changed.

Say Scott and/or Bradley wins another major (and seeing how they have tremendous upside, they probably will) in the next two years before the proposed ban. That would be at least one major decided by a contraption that will be outlawed in the near future.

 

Even though Scott didn’t cheat at the time, will golf historians look down upon his Masters win because he used a now illegal club?

The common thought is that players who use long putters use them because they are desperate to improve their control while on the green.

World No.1 Tiger Woods said in a report in 2012 that the putter should traditionally be equal to the other clubs.

"I just believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling nerves. Having it as a fixed point, as I was saying all year, is something that's not in the traditions of the game. We swing all other 13 clubs. I think the putter should be the same.”

Golfers shouldn’t be robotic. For centuries the great players have gotten by with a free swing, not a central point on the body to control their club.

So toss the anchor, learn how to putt properly and start to separate the weak from the strong minded from golf again.

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