The croquet putting style

July 28, 2010
Sam Snead using the legal croquet style
putting method. Both feet face the hole
and on one side of the line of the putt.
Thinking of trying the croquet putting method? Be very careful not to straddle the line of the putt when you do as this is illegal and a violation of the rules of golf.
As I mentioned last week, KJ Choi has been experimenting with a croquet style of putting but has been standing with both feet on one side of the ball. If he were to straddle the line of the putt with both feet he would be in violation of Rule 16-1e.
The straddle method was banned in 1968 after the great Sam Snead employed it late in his career as his putting deteriorated. Reportedly Bobby Jones played a large role in having the technique banned.
“Bob Jones got that banned, I’m sure of it,” Snead once said. “I would’ve won Augusta again if they let me putt that way.”
But why was it banned? I see no reason apart from sour grapes from Bobby Jones. What specifically about this straddle method isn’t right? Facing the hole surely seems more natural and it does not rest the hands or club against the body like some legal belly putters do.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Gene Oberto says:

    Standing around the putting green at the recent Scandinavian Masters, we watched KJ practice the new stroke. To these unprofessional eyes, the stance seemed very uncomfortable for him and he was very inconsistent. He clearly looked unhappy. Late on Tuesday afternoon, he abruptly handed his aide the putter and the practice guide and pulled out the regular putter.
    Wednesday, at his press conference, he said he wasn’t abandoning the idea, but would now work on it “…gradually over the next few months.”

    Choi led and was in the final group on Sunday in Sweden. His blow up 9 strokes on #15 had nothing to do with his putting-the regular way.

  2. Mike says:

    As I understand it, the straddle stroke not only improves your ability to aim (both eyes are over the line and parallel to the ground, so there’s little or no vision distortion) but also requires a vertical shaft on the putter, which makes it easier to create a pendulum stroke. Some feel that gives players an unfair advantage.

    It’s also the source of the rule requiring the putter shaft to be angled at least 10 degrees from vertical — again, it prevents you from being able to make a perfect pendulum stroke and (supposedly) making the game too easy.

  3. I had no idea of Choi’s putting woe’s til last week.

    Thanks for that Mike. I’m still not sure it’s a great advantage or an advantage at all but I’m clearer on the banning now.

  4. gerald manale says:

    I find it ludicrous that something which would make the difficult game of golf more enjoyable would be banned, especially by Bobby Jones who was the biggest redneck of the times. Why not ban everything which makes the game easier and more fun? Titanium drivers, graphite shafts, etc. included – ridiculous! When every player has the same option to use a system or a club it remains a level playing field. Shame on you Bobby Jones (and Joe Dey) !!

  5. I somewhat agree Gerald but I think there was a perception that it was making the game easier, rather than just more fun. Some may argue the game is more fun the harder it is! :-)

  6. gerald manale says:

    What sport is more fun the more difficult it is? One of the major reasons people are either quitting the game or not starting it in the first place is because it is not only time consuming and expensive, but it is very difficult to improve. The modern golf architects do not get it! They keep making the courses more difficult. When beginners watch the top pros play, it looks easy. This is not the case for the vast majority of players. Once again, there was no rational reason for a 4.25 inch cup. It just happened to be the size of the commercial piping common to homes when the game was started.