Colin Montgomerie has joined the ranks of the confounded curs who wedge long putters into bellies that range from ample (that of the aforementioned dour Scot) to non-existent (Keegan Bradley’s flat abs come to mind). Yet, like some oldsters before him who saw their careers circling the cup the way their Pro V1s no longer did (we’ll put the flip-flopping Ernie Els in this category), Monty has begged someone to force him to remove the protracted wand from his golf bag.
"I'm using the belly putter but I don't agree with it, and I don't agree with you being allowed to hinge it against your body," Montgomerie told Bernie McGuire on Wednesday, ahead of his stint at this week’s Singapore Open (golf clap to Geoff Shackleford for the tip). "So while it's legal I will use it but as soon as it's not, I will agree with the powers to be in that it has to go. It's got to go.”
Hmmm. Where have we heard words to that effect before?
Oh, yeah. Last year’s Bubble Boy, James Driscoll, told us he planned to add a big bat to his weaponry, even though the idea made him throw up in his mouth just a little.
“Why wouldn’t you switch to this?” Driscoll said with distaste about the long putter he tested with almost 100 percent accuracy from some 20 feet during a stint a year ago at a TaylorMade Performance Center in Massachusetts. “I think it should be banned.”
(With the top 125 golfers on the PGA Tour money list earning their playing cards after the final Fall Series event, Driscoll began last season's tourney right on the number. He got his card and, true to his word, added a belly putter to his bag. Belly or no, the Boston native may find himself back where he began, as he was projected to finish 123rd after 14 holes of 1-under play at this week's Disney competition.)
Then there’s Els, who was for outlawing the belly bats (“As long as it’s legal, I’ll keep cheating like the rest of them” the Big Easy said last year) before doing a Mitt Romney 180 and coming out against a ban of the club that helped him win the 2012 British Open. As only a zealous convert can, Els used the bully pulpit of his improbable major championship to issue a threat of legal action should golf’s governing bodies unveil what everyone expects to be a rule change that would prohibit the anchor stroke starting in four years.
“These are people’s livelihoods,” Els told the Daily Mail on the eve of the recent HSBC Champions event in China. “You ask the guys who have never putted the conventional way not to go and use the belly putter, and they are going to struggle. ... If they want to be custodians of the game then that is one thing, but then why allow 60-degree wedges and hybrids into the game?”
Monty, on the other hand, could not wait for golf’s overseers to help him help himself.
“I can understand Keegan and Carl's [Pettersson, a 16-year practitioner of the dark arts and a card-carrying member of Bradley’s merry little band of belly backers] reasoning in considering to take the matter further if the ban should come in," Montgomery espoused, "but no golf club should be anchored or hinged."
Good thing for the 2011 PGA champ and his bellied brothers-in-arms that Montgomerie -- who, according to McGuire, hoped to better his 30.9 puts-per-round average by adding a long putter to his bag this week -- won’t be the one handing down the expected edict. Mrs. Doubtfire, you can be certain, would show no mercy.
"If they've only used the belly putter all life then they need to adapt and abide by the change to the rules,” Monty said. “If I had the chance I wouldn't wait to 2016, I'd ban it tomorrow."