Palmer gave an interesting reply to a question about long putters on Tuesday during a Q&A with the media prior to the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here's the transcript of the exchange (via asapsports.com):
Q. I think it's pretty well known that you have hundreds, if not thousands of putters in your garage and everything. I'm wondering, have you ever‑‑ how often have you tinkered with a belly or a long putter and how close have you ever come to putting one in play? And what are your general thoughts about those types of putters?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, you're opening up a big subject there. Of course, I don't think there's ever been a club made that I know of that has not been in my bag. (Laughter) May not stay long, and the long putter is one of them. I'm not a fan of long putters.
I suppose that if I were playing, and a long putter, being totally legal, and would help my game, I might use it. But I'm opposed to it personally. I just think that there shouldn't be a place in the game for anchoring a club against the body, which is what the long putter does.
So, technically, and principally, I am against it. But would I use it if it were going to enhance my game in the competition? I might.
As usual, Palmer is on point. He doesn't like the long putter and says "there shouldn't be a place in the game" for anchoring, but there's nothing wrong with any player taking advantage of clubs that are, under current rules, perfectly legal.
We sometimes see tour pros accused of hypocrisy if they once criticized long putters or belly putters, only to, later on, start using them. But there's no hypocrisy there, as Palmer very succinctly demonstrates. It's possible to a) play golf abiding by the rules as they are currently written; while also b) favoring changes to those rules. Most of us do it all the time, because we all have a rule or two that we believe should be changed or done away with. Yet, we abide by that rule when we play golf.
So next time you hear a pro golfer accused of hypocrisy after switching to a long or belly putter when they previously have said they favor banning such clubs, remember: they aren't hypocrites. They are just playing golf under the rules as they currently exist.