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My Take
To putt or to"putt" -- is it golf, or something else?

This is an editorial, an opinion. I would be happy to receive reasonable comments or differing opinions, and will even be happy to change my opinion, or at least post the differing opinion, if reasonable enough -- but of course that will be in my opinion too... heh heh heh smile

golfer putting

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To me, golf is meant to be played by swinging a club that is held by the hands, and attached to the body through the arms -- without any other points of contact. The whole game, from the longest drive to the shortest tap in, is designed in that image. That is the look and feel of the game -- that is its style. Any alteration of that style, e.g., a belly putter or a long putter anchored at the chest, sternum, shoulder, armpit, chin, nostril, etc., is not actually golf, within the spirit of the game as I see it.

I realize that "whatever it takes to get the ball in the hole" is the MO from a competitive point of view. Whatever will give you an advantage, as long as it does not violate a current golf rule, is the logical approach if the point is to win money or make a living at it. But, in my opinion, in some cases it is no longer golf.

I think playing the actual game -- rather than using some unflattering, rickety, duct-taped move that doesn't even look like golf -- is the way to go. One of the things I like about golf is its style, and when I see moves that are inelegant, to put it mildly, whether or not they "work" to get the ball in the hole, I find it in bad taste.

The most common examples of this are the anchored putters, the croquet style of putting before it was nixed by a rules update, sidesaddle, etc. If the only purpose was getting the ball in the hole in the fewest strokes there would certainly be easier ways to do it more reliably than to strike the ball with a golf club. Most of us that have played the game for a while have at one time or another realized that "putting" down on your hands and knees with a pool cue would be a much more accurate and successful way of getting the ball in the hole than using a putter -- especially after you got used to it but perhaps even within just a few minutes. And there are probably even better ways to get the ball in the hole. But that isn't the point. The purpose of playing golf is to play golf. Just like in soccer you don't touch the ball with your hands. Obviously you'd have much better control over the ball if you did use your hands at some times. But the style and basis of the game is that you do not use your hands.

So, I'm all for disallowing any attachment of the club to the body other than the hands (that includes anchoring of the hands too). Play golf or play something else. You're as skilled at the actual game as you are. There will always be loopholes and cleverly calculating people to find them (that has me wondering if lawyers as a group have lower golf scores...). Hopefully, the ruling bodies can manage the whole thing to everybody's content, and of course that's where it ends in the real world.

But in the unreal world (here) I drag on just a bit more. Interestingly, you cannot lay a club down on the ground during a swing to help you see your alignment (as if the club on the ground could help you play the stroke) but you can brace a club against your body to diminish the influence of your hands on the stroke. Hmmm...

At some point it's just not golf, and I believe it has gotten beyond that point with the anchoring of putters. Forget about trying to make golf easier; it is not easy, nor is it meant to be. The fun and the challenge are in the difficulty.

Which leads me to another little opinion: But I'll save that for next time…

In the words of comedian Dennis Miller, "that's just my opinion; I could be wrong."

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