From the "everything old is new again" files: Keegan Bradley may have revived an ad campaign from the way-back machine when he proclaimed on Wednesday that he would rather fight the powers-that-be than switch his signature belly putter for one of a more conventional size.
While the first PGA Tour golfer to win a major with a long putter is not known to smoke anything other than his opponents, Bradley’s adamant opposition to an anticipated ban on the way he and several other players anchor the big bats against their stomachs, chests, or other parts of their bodies reminded at least one old-timey golf watcher of Tareyton’s "rather fight than switch" cigarette commercials.
Bradley told Golfweek’s Alex Miceli ahead of this week’s HSBC Champions event in China that he would go down swinging his belly bat -- or to court, if necessary -- before he would let golf’s governing bodies pry it from his non-existent gut. Which would seem to present an excellent marketing opportunity for Odyssey (maker of Bradley’s White Hot XG Sabertooth) to rekindle the promo theme from the days just before Johnny Miller introduced his "full Cleveland" -- white belts and skinny, hip-hugging red polyester pants -- to golf.
Hey, if reaching back to the fashion-don’t days of yore works for the 20-somethings on tour who don similarly flammable threads, why not revitalize a catchy slogan to preserve a player's right to choose the putter that best suits his stink eye?
Okay, a golfer with a black eye and a cancer stick may not be the image Bradley's seeking to project, but the 2011 Rookie of the Year let the USGA and Royal & Ancient know to what lengths he would go to continue selecting the length of his flat stick.
"I'm going to do whatever I have to do to protect myself and the other players on tour," Bradley said about what many pros believe will, in the near future, result in a USGA/R&A mandate against anchoring. "I look at it as a whole, as us all together. I don't look at it as much about myself. I think that for them to ban this after we've done what we've done is unbelievable."
Bradley served notice recently that he was stepping up his resistance to the expected proscription.
"You've got guys on tour that have been putting with these for 15-20 years," he said on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" earlier this month. "I don't know that it's the right move to just all of a sudden ban these clubs to us that have been using them for a long time."
Reigning British Open champ Ernie Els, who was against anchoring before he was for it (and won the Open Championship wielding a towering staff), told Miceli to expect lawsuits should the rules-makers issue an edict effectively outlawing long putters.
"They’re going to have a couple of legal matters coming their way," Els said. "It's going to be a bit of an issue now. I’ve been against it, but since I’ve been using it, it still takes a lot of practice, and you have to perfect your own way of putting with this belly."
PGA Tour policy board member Davis Love III admitted as much after USGA executive director Mike Davis briefed the players on the expected prohibition.
"I would be concerned, if I was [the USGA], because you've got a bunch of guys that are going to want to fight it," Love told Miceli earlier this month. "Not the tour but the players individually. A bunch of players that aren't going to like it."
As Miceli pointed out, a legal skirmish would not be without precedent, with Ping’s suit against the USGA regarding grooves being the primary example of protracted litigation involving golf gear.
The USGA can’t say it hasn’t been warned that Bradley may well resort to similarly combative action if that’s what it takes to keep a belly putter in his golf bag.