MANAKIN-SABOT, Va. – Vinny Giles, playing his home course and looking uncomfortable in the role of sentimental favorite, lost in the second round of match play Tuesday in the USGA Senior Amateur.
On this day, his golf would not come close to speaking as loudly as his words.
One minute, Giles was suffering with a long putter at Kinloch Golf Club, three-putting from 25 feet on the 20th hole to hand the victory to Ron Kilby of McAllen, Texas.
The next, he was blasting all long and belly putters, labeling the U.S. Golf Association “gutless” and calling for a ban on all putters attached to the body.
“It’s been a good eight years that I’ve used a long putter,” Giles said. “I could go back (to a conventional short putter), and I wish the USGA had the guts to outlaw them (long and belly putters).
“We should not be able to putt with those things. We shouldn’t be able to putt with anything attached to our bodies.
“Why they’re so gutless, I don’t know. I want them to just say, ‘OK, we make the rules.’ If the PGA Tour wants to say, ‘We’re not gonna play by ’em, we’re going to bifurcation,’ fine, let ’em go.
“But we, as the USGA, should definitely outlaw those putters. There’s no issue, as far as I’m concerned. Nerves are part of the game. Crutches aren’t, and these putters are crutches.
“And that’s coming from somebody who uses one. It’s a lot easier for somebody who doesn’t use one to make that comment. I’m 100 percent in favor of a ban of them.”
Giles is an institution in American golf. He played on four Walker Cup teams. He was Walker Cup captain. He and Bill Campbell are the only two golfers to have won the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Senior Amateur.
Sure, Giles was emotional. Against Kilby, he had just blown a 2-up lead with two holes to play, missing a 7-foot par putt on 17 and pulling his tee shot into the water at 18. Then he faced a routine 25-foot uphill putt on the second extra hole and three-putted, his second putt from 4 feet badly missing the hole by several inches on the right.
Regardless, Giles chose his words carefully.
“I wouldn’t say all this if I didn’t believe it so strongly,” he said. “These (long and belly) putters should not be part of the game. It’s time to take a stand.”