Long putters have quite the PGA Tour fan club these days. Matt Kuchar rode his Rife Barbados Belly to victory at The Players Championship, and several other big names (including Keegan Bradley, Fred Couples and FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas) pledge allegiance to these unconventional sticks that make traditionalists gag on their 9-irons.
Women, however, are not joining the stampede of golfers rushing to swap their beloved flat sticks for the protracted putters. Their gut reaction: Get that belly putter outta my breadbasket.
GottaGoGolf set out to find out why – and ended up opening the eyes of some vendors who learned a little something about the women’s equipment market.
First stop, the LPGA. The only tour player of note who wields a weighty wand seems to be Michelle Wie, and with a tour ranking of 133rd in putting average (31.83 putts per round), it seems the former preteen prodigy needs something more than a change of weapons to boost her proficiency on the greens.
Next, a totally unscientific survey methodology. We sent a bunch of emails to our golfing pals to determine why, exactly, women prefer to three-putt with standard mallets rather than experiment with the extended versions. We asked if they had ever considered going over to the dark side (uh oh -- too much editorializing?); if so, how did it turn out; and if not, why not?
We were not surprised to hear that the long putters didn’t fit those of us on the vertically challenged side, or weighed too much for hearty golfers who still carried their bags. But a common comment about some physical disparities between women and men surprised the heck out of us and, frankly, caused us to laugh out loud.
Why we hate them
Let’s start by noting that one sentiment was almost universal: No how, no way, not in this lifetime. But there was quite the range of complaints.
The most common objection to long putters was -- no shock -- their lengths.
“I’d probably trip over a putter that long,” Lorraine C told us. “Doesn’t appeal to me.”
“How would I carry it in my golf bag? Let's think about this, I am 5-10, that is going to be one long putter,” chimed in Bunny M, a self-styled “traditionalist” who purchased her first hybrid just two years ago.
“I've thought about it,” said Karen M, who conceded that “keep it simple!” was her motto, “but do not want a club that long sticking out of my bag, it just gets in the way.”
Then there was the issue of comfort. One friend noted that she had actually put one in her bag a while back and found it quite helpful for short putts. Eventually, though, she came to dislike sticking an object in her gut. “It seems to point out your belly fat (assuming you have some),” she typed.
Body issues of a different nature stood out as well. “Holding a long putter against boobs versus a flat chest could be the big issue,” a golfer who works in the business observed. She was not alone.