Since February 2011, the point in time in which Adam Scott made the decision to go over to the dark side where long putters are used, he’s won two golf tournaments: the 2011 World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational and the 2013 Masters.
Prior to February 2011, Scott won seven PGA Tour events. So does that say when 2016 comes and the anchored putting stroke becomes verboten by the rules of golf Scott will start winning more again?
No, and it doesn’t say he’s automatically going to win any less, either.
There are three somewhat shocking statistics provided by the PGA Tour on this subject. In 2011, Scott ranked 143rd in the strokes gained putting category at -.172; in 2012 he was 148th at -.204, and in 2013, he’s ranked 102nd at -.032. Those are WITH the anchored putting stroke.
He was even worse without it. Prior to 2011 he had finished in the top 10 only twice in that category: in 2007 he was 74th and in 2004, when he won the Players Championship, he finished first.
Having said all that, the conclusion to be drawn is Scott hasn’t been, isn’t and probably never will be a great putter. He is, however, the possessor of one of professional golf’s best swings. And it’s that swing that has been the rock of those nine victories and will continue to be so as he works his way through the prime of his career.
Will Scott be affected in 2016 by the anchored putting ban? Sure he will. Will it be devastating for he and his career?
No, it will not.
The man who won seven times while never being close to a great putter will hopefully take some of the experience he gained during his long putter days with him when he comes back to normal. He learned to get more rhythm into his putting stroke and became a bit more calm in that part of the game.
Scott originally went to the long putter at the suggestion of his instructor, Brad Malone, after a session in Australia in February 2011. "I hadn't really thought about it at all," said Scott at that year's Masters, where he finished in a tie for second. "I got home from Hawaii and my coach had a long putter and he had been practicing with it to see and he said, 'You should have a go' because he thought it would do good things for my rhythm and short stroke. The rhythm with the long putter is very nice, and that's something I was fighting in my putting with the short putter."
And when he won the Masters in April, he completed the unofficial Grand Slam for majors won by anchored putters: Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els having done so with belly putters and Scott with his long putter.
Whether the United States Golf Association or Royal & Ancient will admit it, that Grand Slam did not sit well in the discussions of whether to ban the stroke or not.
And while Scott was definitely more comfortable with the long stick, it certainly wasn’t infallible. He had birdie chances on the 10th, 11th and 12th holes at Augusta National that, had he converted on even a couple of those, the rest of his afternoon might have been a lot less stressful.
Scott is no different than any of the other broomstick-wielding putters in that he knows he needs to get ready for 2016 and the switch back to regular-length putters is not optional. They may grumble and mumble but if they want to continue competing as a professional, they need to get comfy with the short sticks.
The 32-year-old Australian got a jump on that process, starting to practice with a shorter putter a week after the ban was announced. He used it on the practice green and played a practice round with it, but the shorter one didn’t make it into official play.
Hey, it makes all the sense in the world that a putter that’s anchored against your chest or belly should, not would, but should give the guy holding that putter something of an advantage when the heat is on.
But have you noticed that all the guys who use those non-traditional putters don’t win every week?
Skill and talent and considerable practice are still necessary ingredients in getting the ball in the hole.
Scott will be affected by the ban. But Scott is a much better player than he was before 2011 and he’ll be able to handle this switch with less than catastrophic results.