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Bhatia’s broomstick


I used to play tennis from grade school until well into adulthood. Although I would say I got better at golf than tennis or any other sport, my right hand was always dominant


At the recently held Valero Texas Open, up-and-coming star Akshay Bhatia clinched the title after an anti-climactic sudden death playoff with Denny McCarthy.

Showing nerves of steel, the lanky 22-year-old holed his putt to force a playoff and proceeded to win with another birdie in the playoff after McCarthy fatted a wedge into the drink at the par 5 18th in sudden death. With the Masters just days away, Akshay Bhatia punched his ticket to Augusta at the last possible moment, and gave us fans a tournament finish for the ages.

Ok, so that was quite a finish to the normally mundane Valero Texas Open. What caught my attention, other than the exciting finish, was the putter Bhatia used to win.

While the putter model he used is quite a popular one (Odyssey Jailbird), having it in a long putter is quite rare. Even rarer is seeing long putters being used on the PGA Tour, and by someone as young as Bhatia.

Before the anchoring ban was enforced in 2016, long putters or broomstick putters and belly putters were quite common.

Adam Scott famously used one to win the Masters, Vijay Singh used one with much success. Other pros like Scott McCarron, Sam Torrance, Bernhard Langer, all used long putters.

Actually, Langer still uses one on the Champions Tour and we know how dominant he has been on the senior circuit. In the local golf scene, legendary amateur Tommy Manotoc was famous for using a broomstick putter too. And representing everyday hackers, I too used to be a long putter user for 8 years, up until the anchoring ban.

What advantage does a long putter have? Is it the anchoring? Is it the split grip? Personally, I’ve tinkered with belly and long putters, mallets, blades and all sorts of shapes. I stuck with my trusty long putter for one reason — I putted best when mostly using my right hand.


BRENNAN ASPLEN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE The long and short of Akshay Bhatia’s putter.


That’s where my feel comes from. I wouldn’t say I had yips, but for some reason, my left hand seemed to just get in the way. By splitting my grip and using my left hand just for anchoring, I could use my dominant hand to feel and guide the putts.

I watched a video explaining why some golfers putt much better with one hand dominating the stroke. As explained in the video, some people have excellent hand-eye coordination, but only with one hand. Put another hand in the equation, and it just doesn’t work as well.

This apparently was common with golfers coming from playing other sports. People who play darts, pool, racquet sports, even basketball, all “shoot” or swing with one hand dominating. As a result, one hand becomes dominant not just in strength, but also with feel and coordination.

I used to play tennis from grade school until well into adulthood. Although I would say I got better at golf than tennis or any other sport, my right hand was always dominant. Even in tennis, I couldn’t hit two-handed backhands. My left hand just got in the way.

Same goes for my putting. Hitting putts using my long putter felt like bowling with my right hand. I just rolled the ball using one hand. That all went away with the anchoring ban in 2016. It was just too much of a hassle for me to re-learn putting with my left hand hovering instead of being anchored on my sternum.

But Akshay’s win, Will Zalatoris’ switch to a broomstick, Lucas Glover’s success on the Champions Tour, and defending US Mid-Amateur Champion Stewart Hagestad’s feat, they were all using their long sticks on the greens. I might just give my trusty old Ping B90 long putter another shot.

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