Long putters: A brief history

Following the R&A and USGA proposals to ban the anchored stroke in 2016, we look at where it all began...

Long putters: A brief history

After years of debate and months of rumour, anchored putter strokes will finally be abolished from our sport as of January 1 2016. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to see how we got to this very day…

1924 – Leo Diegel gets the ball rolling by developing the rather dodgy looking putting stance pictured above. Diegel adopts a crouched position with his elbows sticking out and then sticks the butt of the putter near his belly. His peers label the move as ‘Diegeling’.

1961 – The first patent for a belly putter is submitted by Richard Parmley and approved four years later.

1966 – Phil Rodgers wins twice on the PGA Tour with a 39.5-inch belly. Rodgers shoves the handle of his putter against his stomach and spreads his hands apart before taking his stroke.

– USGA bans croquet-style putting, as used by Sam Snead, above.

1983 – Battling the yips, bad back and knees, Champions Tour player Charlie Owens uses a giant 51-inch putter anchored to his sternum and it helps him to win twice on the circuit in 1986.

1987 – Johnny Miller wins the AT&T National Pro-Am using a 46-inch flatstick but grips the club normally and braces it against his left arm.

1989 - After a disappointing 1988 season on the greens, Sam Torrance experiments with the long putter that was already being used successfully in the US. He debuts his version (that he still uses today) which anchors on the chin rather than the midriff, at the 1989 Jersey Open and subsequently finished in the top five.

– Orville Moody, regarded by many as one of the worst putters on the Tour, quickly becomes one of the best as he sprints home for the US Senior Open wielding a long putter. Later that year, golf’s governing bodies announce the long putter would continue to be permitted under the Rules of Golf.

1991 – Rocco Mediate, above, becomes the first player to win a PGA Tour event using a putter anchored to his sternum at the Doral Open.

1996 - After college, Scott McCarron gives up golf for four years to work with his father in the family clothing business. During that period, athletic focus is on flag football, softball, tennis and racquetball but a return to golf was sparked in 1991 when paying a visit to Raley's Senior Gold Rush on the Champions Tour. After watching the seniors, he goes home to Reno-Tahoe and builds a long putter in his garage. McCarron instantly reaps the rewards, winning his first PGA Tour title in 1996, before adding wins in 1997 and 2001.

2000 – Paul Azinger collects his first PGA Tour title in more than six years using a belly putter at the Sony Open.

– Eight PGA Tour events are won by long putter users, including four by Vijay Singh. 

2011 – USGA executive director Mike Davis explains there could be a possible ban of the anchored putter, shortly before Keegan Bradley becomes the first ever major champion to win using a belly. Fellow user Bill Haas then clinches the season-long FedEx Cup. 

2012 – Matt Kuchar picks up his biggest victory-to-date at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass with a long putter braced against his forearm. But the anchored putter debate gains momentum when Webb Simpson and Ernie Els, above, win the US Open and Open Championship respectively with belly putters. On November 28, the USGA and R&A announce a proposal to ban anchored putter strokes commencing January 1 2016.

What do YOU think about the anchored putting ban? Come and join the discussion in this forum thread, or you can tell us on our Facebook page or on Twitter @Golfmagic.

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