The American is the latest player to put an arm-lock putter in the bag, but he isn't happy about it

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Xander Schauffele Switches To Arm-Lock Putter But Wants Them Banned

Xander Schauffele is the latest big-name golfer to adopt the arm-lock putting method and it’s so far so good as the 27-year-old fired an impressive four-under 68 in the first round of the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament. 

It’s been one of the many contentious topics in the world of golf lately and there is no shortage of players, pundits and fans who believe the technique should be banned as it takes an element of skill out of the game.

Even Schauffele himself feels it should be outlawed, but while it remains legal, the American doesn’t want to be disadvantaged, especially when the margins at the business end of the game are so small. 

“I am for banning the arm-lock putters,” Schauffele said in the wake of his first round at Jack Nicklaus’ redesigned Muirfield Village layout. “But if everyone else is going to use it and I feel like they have a bigger advantage, I may as well do the same.”

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What makes this admission all the more interesting – and perhaps worrying – is that putting has become a real strength of Schauffele’s game of late. But despite feeling “funny” about making the switch, he is adamant that it offers players “a distinct advantage” compared to the more traditional models. 

“It’s just better, it’s easier,” he continued, when asked what prompted the decision. “It’s more consistent.

“My coach [Derek Uyeda] and I work a lot in San Diego on start lines and making sure the ball’s doing what we think it’s doing. And the fact that it’s anchored to your arm, there isn’t a whole lot of — you can flinch in your hands but you can’t flinch your entire left arm, so that’s the process behind that.

“I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think it was better. If I was No. 1 in putting with a short stick it wouldn’t have been a thought.

“But I just feel like at times I can make more putts and, obviously I am in the top-10, like I looked when I was switching, and I felt like it was — I’m in a position where I have nothing to lose and if I can get better at something, then I can.”

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For the round, Schauffele ranked 29th in strokes gained: putting, picking up 0.73 strokes against the field, which is slightly less than his average for the season so far as he trails Collin Morikawa, who recently adopted the claw grip, by two.

However, having spent less than a week wielding his new wand, it’s very early days in the experiment for the four-time PGA Tour winner. And how long that experiment will last is anyone’s guess. Certainly if Schauffele had his way, it would be over in a hurry.

“It takes the stress of putting out of the game,” the World No. 5 explained. “Putting is so stressful in golf, obviously hitting shots and chipping and all kinds of stuff are difficult, but your putts are what give you the score on the card. 

“It’s ruined people’s careers and it’s helped people’s careers. And so I think putting is an art in our game and when you can lock it into your arm or anchor it to your body, it kind of gets rid of that.”

Calls to ban this style of putting are nothing new in golf, of course. In May 2013, the governing bodies announced that anchoring of any kind, no matter the club, would be illegal as of January 1, 2016, and that was thought to be that.

However, as all top sportsmen and women do, a way was found to push the newly instated rule to the limit, which has led to the position we are in today.

Arm-lock putting has ensured the saga rolls on for now, but with increasing pressure from all angles, some form of clarity one way or the other can’t be far away.