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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Putting should aid enjoyment

I’ve sampled lots of putters.

I’ve tried different blades and mallets, some with inserts, some without. I’ve tried thick grips and standard grips. I’ve tried left-hand low, and still employ that method for putts within 12 feet of the cup. I’ve tried a couple of stances, settling at the moment on slightly open.

But I’ve never tried the belly/long putters that are becoming increasingly popular in golf bags, including those of recent majors winners Ernie Els, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson. The thought has certainly crossed my mind, especially after ruining a solid ball-striking round with a handful of three-putts.

There has been discussion of golf’s governing bodies possibly not allowing belly/long putters to be anchored to the body. It’s one of several topics we broached with MeadowWood’s Bob Scott, Avondale’s Dan Porter and Spokane Country Club’s Les Blakley in the latest edition of the Pros Roundtable.

Putter helpful

Should belly/long putters that are anchored to the body be allowed or banned from professional and/or amateur golf?

Scott: I personally believe they should be banned. They take one of the most important aspects of the game and put a Band-Aid on it. At the same time, it allows those who have a lot of problems with putting to enjoy the game.

Porter: I think they should be allowed. We are about improving the enjoyment of the game and for those who struggle with putting, even some to the point where they quit, the belly/long putter helps bring the joy back to the game.

Blakley: The most important skill in putting is controlling speed and determining proper line. I don’t think an anchored putter is a huge advantage.

Feherty a favorite

Who is your favorite golf broadcaster/analyst on TV? Why?

Porter: David Feherty. His comments, though absurd sometimes, are funny and keep what could be a sometimes melancholy sport to watch entertaining.

Blakley: Peter Jacobsen. He brings a personality to the broadcast that not many can accomplish. Plus, he’s from the Northwest.

Scott: David Feherty, without a doubt. His descriptions and use of words to describe shots are very entertaining.

Bunkers take technique

Many amateurs struggle in bunkers. What’s a tip for improving sand shots?

Blakley: Sand shots require a technique that deviates from basic golf fundamentals. Open stance, open club face, hit behind the ball 1-2 inches, trying to have the sole of the club strike the sand first.

Scott: The biggest problem I see with most amateurs hitting bunker shots is that they are too afraid to take a 3/4 to full swing to move the ball 25 feet. They need to open their stance and the face of their sand wedge, move the ball forward in their stance and take a 3/4 swing while slapping the sand 2 inches behind the ball and making sure to finish their swing.

Porter: The No. 1 thing I see amateurs do incorrectly is attempt to hit a bunker shot with a straight face, meaning the club face pointed directly to the target. You have to hit bunker shots with an open stance and open club face, allowing the club to slide into the sand behind the ball and the sand pushes the ball out.

No surprise, really: Augusta

What’s No. 1 on your bucket list of golf courses to play?

Scott: Augusta National or Cypress Point would be unbelievable. Two of the most difficult golf courses to get on in America.

Porter: Augusta National.

Blakley: Augusta!