LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Plenty of folks did a double-take when John Smoltz stepped up to putt at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. During Smoltz’s pre-shot routine, he walks behind the ball to check his alignment – leaving the Bloodline putter to stand on its own.
Smoltz said his financial guy introduced him to the hands-free putter almost a year ago. And, as one would expect, he gets a lot of grief for it when playing casual golf.
“Everybody I play with says ‘That’s illegal,’ ” said Smoltz. “I make a lot of putts in casual games.”
The USGA confirmed the putter’s legality in a statement, saying that self-standing putters, only when placed right next to the ball (as they are intended to be used), are allowed to be used to assist the player in taking a stance or to point out the line of play.
Smoltz, 51, qualified for the U.S. Senior Open in 2018. He didn’t use the Bloodline at The Broadmoor because it was too windy. Smoltz, who struggles with alignment, plays often with the Bloodline at home but wanted to give it a try in competition this week.
Smoltz was pleased with Thursday’s efforts, noting that all three of the birdies he made were with the flagstick in the hole. He likes that visual too. Smoltz has 34 points in the celebrity division’s Stableford format and trails Mardy Fish by five points.
“People are always looking to see where to get it online,” said Smoltz. “Because honestly if you can trust the line – you’re not always going to have the right line – but if you can trust it, that’s half the battle.”