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Should belly putters be banned?

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By Zach VanDolah

GolfWRX Contributor

The recent comments made by Tiger Woods during his press conference at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am have added fuel to an already burning fire. Woods got right to the point Tuesday when asked his opinion on “anchoring” the putter.

Woods, an obvious purist, had this to say:

“I’ve never been a fan of it. I believe it’s the art of controlling the body and club and swinging the pendulum motion. I believe that’s how it should be played. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to that.”

Woods said that he’s been going back and forth with Peter Dawson, President of the R&A, for a number of years about how to reword a change in the rules.

“My idea was to have it so that the putter would be equal or less than the shortest club in your bag,” Woods said. “And I think with that we’d be able to get away from any type of belly anchoring. You can still anchor the putter like Bernhard Langer did against the forearm. But that’s still the art of swinging the club at the same time.”

He even gave a proposal as to how the amended rule would be regulated.

“Peter’s looked into it for a number of years, trying to get it to work, and you can actually measure everybody’s sand wedge and putter before you go out and play, that’s another thing, too,” he said.

The main concern with this proposed plan is what happens to the taller players like Matt Kuchar who has been known to use a putter 36 inches or longer without anchoring it. Would Tigers suggestion be fair to him? Since the average 60-degree wedge is around 35 inches, which most golfers carry, the tallest players would be a victim of this rule.

There is no denying the impact the non-traditional putter has had on the game. Keegan Bradley made history last year by becoming the first player to win a major with a long putter. Bill Haas continued that trend by winning the PGA Tour’s season-long championship, The Fed Ex Cup. What once was used exclusively by older players is now the weapon of choice for many young guns.

While the ban should only be implemented on professionals and top amateur events, those who have been using the long putter for years will clearly have to go through an adjustment period. Players like Simpson and Bradley who have grown up with long putters will certainly have to get used to using the standard sized putters again. However, the great players will continue to be great even if the rule changes.

If the USGA and R&A decide to ban these putters they must be aligned in their efforts. Whatever decision one makes, the other must follow suit. The USGA is notorious for issuing soft guidelines which equipment companies easily work around. Hopefully the new USGA president Glen Nager, a former attorney, will put firm rules into place.

I’m a part of the generation that has grown up with belly putters playing a more prominent role in the game. My feeling on the matter is that long putters have no place in the game. The only thing a putter should be anchored to is your hands. Golf is about using the skills you have to put that little white ball into the hole, not about anchoring a club to your body so your putting stroke mirrors that of a machine. That is the challenge of golf.

Click here for more discussion in the forums.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Hal Neslusan

    Apr 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm

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  2. Geebee

    Jul 27, 2012 at 5:50 am

    The R&A has stated that the next rule change in 2016 will have the long putter ruled upon, BUT the length will not be considered.
    So it looks like anchoring it to the body will be banned.

  3. joe

    Jul 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    yes the long putters should be banned, its a disgrace to the great game of golf…

  4. Raphael

    Jul 20, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Scott,

    There are stocks like Phillip Morris that I could have purchased in the past and would have made a lot of money, but I didn’t buy them because ethically, I didn’t agree with their business. You may think that I’m stupid, like the players who won’t use something that they consider unethical, but sometimes holding on to a principle is more important than money. I think the belly putters should perhaps be allowed on the senior tour, but not on the regular PGA tour.People can argue that we use graphite shafts or two piece balls, but it doesn’t change the spirit of the game. Club materials change, but it’s never been the case that you were allowed to anchor a club against your body until these clubs came around. “Anchor putters’ are like putting guard on the gutters at a bowling alley. They don’t keep from bowling a bad ball, but they hep you keep the ball in the lane.

  5. Geebee

    Jul 9, 2012 at 12:52 am

    They should sort out the rules first and be the same for all.
    Ball ‘assumed to be stolen but not actually seen picked up’=have a free drop.
    Ball ‘assumed to be stuck up a tree but not actually seen to be’ = two shot penalty.
    Rule for one but not another.

  6. andrew

    Jul 7, 2012 at 8:29 am

    people talk about belly putters being an advantage what about the pro golfers getting their caddies lining them up this is more depremental to golf than the belly putter will ever be as for woods after what he did i dont think he is in a position to get on his high horse

  7. Geebee

    Jul 4, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I use a Belly Putter but NO part of it is attached to my body.
    I put side saddle and the club is in both hands only so the length of the putter should not matter.
    Now all you “purist’s” will have to ban side saddle putting as well.

  8. Scott

    Apr 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I am a pro and play on various tours and have seen a lot of guys using these, to be perfectly honest I don’t care not one bit if they use them. I don’t think for one minute they are an unfair advantage. I personally don’t like them I think they are quite a skill on it’s own to use them!
    If these were a easy way,quick fix cheat aid that I hear sooooooo many of people saying then why don’t they use them? They are not purists etc they are stupid because if it was that much of a game improver they would use them! They would win more money, more events and be better off!
    I think the simple fact is they can’t use them and they are so petty they have to complain about something. Banning these is simply idiotic it does not fix your putting and it’s not for everybody.
    I think what should be curbed and banned is all these super driversand fairways and hybrids if you want to complain about making the game easier it’s these things not the BELLY putter go back to the old small headed wood woods like the greats used to play! Then let’s see how many players fall by the wayside and how many of you think it’s unfair. I am an exceptionally long hitter I used to be 60-70 yards ahead of guys back in 96 now the same guys I blasted it past are 20 yards behind me!now I find this unfair and it’s all down to drivers that are 4 times larger and springy than before. I bet not one of you that complain about BELLY putters complain about gaining 30yards on your drives!
    STOP complaining it’s just annoying listening to you whine on. All the guys that are winning with belly putters are great players with great swings that put the ball close so they hole putts belly putter or not they would still be winning.

  9. Doug

    Mar 12, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Sam Snead was not old to use the same putting stroke as the rest.

  10. Doug

    Mar 12, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    If belly putters are disagreable to you why not make everyone use the same brand and model clubs and by the by use the same ball in compititions. Sport is a test not only of your physical skills but of your skill to beat your opponants mentally. And why should the golf rulers listen to Mr Woods he is not even winning PGA events let alone the big events. I would like to hear from winners who can keep their cool when a strke does not go their way.

  11. M. Blakeman

    Feb 13, 2012 at 4:24 am

    I think the belly putter, the long putter and the Langer method of putting should all be made illegal since they all involve anchoring the club to one’s body in some way. The club should be held and swung by the hands only. Some people may say that they gain no advantage but if that were true why do they do it? There obviously must be an advantage to those that can’t putt well the conventional way.

  12. Robert

    Feb 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Its a joke, Tony Romo is using a belly putter..Tiger was just jabbing him. Why would Tiger care, why does anyone care/

  13. Jared

    Feb 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    @Otto: the problem isn’t “making the game easier” , its the question of whether or not a player should be able to anchor a club to their body during play. Why don’t we just let players go out and play with a ‘V harness’ on? The fact is long putters are a bore to watch. They do indeed take away from the purity of the stroke. When I saw Phil switched to the long putter I flipped the coffee table I was so distraught, luckily he realized he doesn’t need to stoop to the geezer stick to turn his putting game around. I’m all for taking away the equator sharpie ball marking. But anchoring a golf club to your body simply isn’t how the game should be played at the professional level.

  14. Otto

    Feb 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Biopar you should check your facts Bradleys putter is not illegal and has been a part of the game probaly longer then you have been alive.

    Jeff even with a belly/anchor putter you take a swing the same as everyone else.

    the usgs and r&a need to take astp back these putters have been around for decades and it would be unfair to ban them now when players have been using them for so long.

    How about drawing a line on your ball to line it up or the monster drivers we now all use or the bionic golf balls all offended changes have one far more to make the game easier then someone with long putter.

  15. Vitor

    Feb 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    If putting while straddling the ball, croquet-style, is forbidden, I can’t understand why we’re allowed to pivot the putter….

  16. Seth

    Feb 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Here’s the deal……………..belly putters do not take the “nerves” out of the game or stroke if you will. I have seen plenty of belly putter guys “yip”, all lengths of putts. And, I hate to use that word because in all honesty it’s basically a lack of confidence in what one is attempting, not some mythical almost uncureable disease. The skill sets that Keegan, Webb, and Hass possess that make them as good as they are should not be ignored. To disregard their skill sets and put it on putting only is unfair at the very least. I get the points made about anchoring, however, equipment improvements have been advancing the game since it began and the ultimate goal has always been to save strokes, or alter swing tempos/patterns to minimize misses. Although this is not completely apples to apples they are attempting to do the same thing………..save strokes. The limited studies that have been done, taking regular length putters and having them putt different distances with their putter vs. a belly putter they have never used before showing that they putt just as well with the belly without practice, doesn’t necessarily tell me the belly putter is better, rather, maybe they weren’t a very good putter to begin with. When it comes down to it, for me, if I am playing someone with a belly putter and they make theirs and I miss mine, I lose, case closed. I will blame me not their equipment for the loss.

  17. Jeff

    Feb 11, 2012 at 10:58 am

    While proponents of hinging suggest that if it were magic, everyone would be doing it. Yet, all admit that hinging helps players deal with nerves on short putts. The question not heard is: “would the players hinging today be ranked where they are?” Would Web Simpson and Keegan Bradley have had a breakout seasons? Would hard working Corey Pavin not continuously finished third behind hingers Freddie and Bernhard on the Champions Tour? Hinging is a measuring device for posture and players who find success are taking valid playing spots away from those “athletes” who swing the club.

  18. Blopar

    Feb 11, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Oh yeah…why does Keegan always look like he’s about to cry? because he knows the USGA and R and A are about to take away his illegal cash cow and he’ll finally have to learn to putt like the rest of us.

  19. Blopar

    Feb 11, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Ditto–the long putter gives an unfair “fix” to those who can’t really master swinging the shortflat-stick. ban it totally or maybe allow it for over 70’s duffers with stiff backs and tremors..

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