The Long Putter in Golf

Brett Rumford, holding his long putter, studies the line of his putt.

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"Long putter" is a term that can be used to refer to a specific type of putter, or to a category of putters. As a category, long putters are those putters that are, well, longer than conventional putters and which, in their original usage, were designed for the golfer to "anchor" against his or her body. Belly putters and broomstick putters fall into the category of long putters.

Specs of the Long Putter

Conventional putters typically range from 32-36 inches in length, belly putters from 41-44 inches, and broomstick putters from 48-52 inches.

However, most often when the term "long putter" is used, it is used to refer to a specific type of putter, and in this usage "long putter" and "broomstick putter" are the same thing. So, to most golfers, "long putter" implies those putters with the greatest length, typically 48 to 52 inches.

Such a putter length allows the golfer a more upright putting stance. A long putter's grip is typically split, with grip at the butt end of the club, then bare shaft, then more grip lower on the shaft. The golfer grips the long putter with his top hand (right hand for a right-handed golfer) on the upper grip section, and bottom hand on the lower grip section.

In their original usage, the golfer's top hand and the butt end of the putter were anchored to (pressed against) the golfer's sternum, chest or even chin, and that "anchor" served as a fulcrum point to make a pendulum swing, which the golfer initiated using his lower hand only.

However, a 2016 rule change banned the use of such an anchor point when using a long putter.

How the Anchoring Ban Affected Use of Long Putters

On May 21, 2013, golf's governing bodies announced the adoption of rules changes that outlawed such anchoring during putting or any other stroke. In the rulebook change that was issued on Jan. 1, 2016, the change was spelled out in Rule 14-1b (Ban on Anchoring).

In the Rules of Golf that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, the ban on anchoring is spelled out in Rule 10-1(b).

But it's important to note that it is the way most golfers used the long putter — by anchoring it to the upper body — that was ruled "illegal" by the rule change and is "illegal" now under Rule 10-1(b), not long putters. Golfers remain free to use a putter with a length of their choosing, so long as when making the putting stroke that long putter is not anchored to one's body.

Why Try a Long Putter?

A long putter is typically used by golfers who struggle with the yips when using a conventional-length putter; or golfers who have back problems or other issues that make using a more upright stance preferable.

Because of that, for many years long putters carried the reputation of being more for senior golfers. Over time, however, it has become much more common to see long putters used by golfers of all ages.

Golfers who are "wristy" or "handsy" with conventional putters can benefit from the long putter, which takes most wrist action out of the putting stroke.