Belly Up

Frank and Valerie,
Well done and thank you for the graphic explanation last week about teeing it forward and then potentially rolling the ball back.

Now I believe that the USGA is going to ban the belly putter. What is the story and what do you think about this?

Allan, SC

Thanks for the comments and we did have fun with the video last week.

From what I understand – the USGA is being very vague again about what it is going to do—it is considering making it a violation to anchor the putter – or any club — to the body while making a stroke.

I have three things to say about it;

1. Let us make sure we have a problem before we try to solve it – remember the new groove rule three years ago which affected 35 million golfers, and which has had no effect on the performance on PGA Tour where it was supposed to solve a perceived problem. Only 4 golfers in the top 30 in putting stats on the PGA Tour are using the long or belly putter and none in the top ten.

2. Anchoring the club; or hand that holds the club; or the arm that holds the hand that holds the club, is going to be very difficult to enforce and monitor and begs for ambiguious interpretation.

3. If the long or belly putter really is a problem – be sure about this—then make the putter the shortest club in the bag. This is a very easy rule to write and administer with the only problem being the wrath of some golfers.

Allan, let us see what happens and hope that common sense will prevail.

9 thoughts on “Belly Up

  1. Whether you play by the rules or not is not the discussion point. As a student of the Rules of Golf I have learned over the many years that the Rule Book says exactly what it means and there is little to no room for debate. Given that, perhaps the problem is the book itself and the definition of “stroke” The forward movement of THE club, etc etc. Not the forward movement of part of, or some of the putter. The ruling bodies have told me that my view and interpretation of the definition is a very narrow one but nobody has said I am wrong and the Rule Book certainly isn’t. So if the broom stick is in then change the definition otherwise use Franks example for an easy fix and limit putters to XX inches and preclude any part being stationery during the stroke.

  2. No less an authority on the playing of golf – Ben Hogan_ said “There is no similarity between golf and putting, they are two different games”. No golfer putts like he hits any other shot in golf. Arnold Palmer did not stand to a driver knock-kneed and pidgen toed. Jack Nicklaus did not hit a five iron hunched over and shoving the club with his right arm. You are right on with your observations. What is the problem? The problem is some whinning pros and the blue coats at the USGA and the sexists at the R&A do not like how it looks. Billy Casper anchored his putter to his thigh, I have seen film of Arnold Palmer doing the same. Paul Runyan anchored to his belly in the 30s or 40s it is in his book. I for one will be asking for a refund of my USGA dues if they make another mistake like they did with the grooves (not once but two times).

  3. If the top putters do not use an anchored putter, then the fact that so many winners and especially of majors may indicate that it does indeed give poorer putters an advantage, especially in pressure situations. An interesting comparison would be wins by top 10 in putting stat vs. wins by those using long/anchored putters.

  4. Since the USGA and the R&A chose to ignore my old butt when they ruled out the grooves on my clubs, I don’t feel the least bit obligated to follow their rules when I play the game. I may use them as a guide, but they are NOT chiseled in stone, so to speak.
    I personally have had NO success using anything but a short putter, and not much with that, but if I want to use a longer one, I will and the USGA be damned.

    Ronnie in GA.

  5. no one likes a smart —! your logic is precise! amd I love it! perfect-one way to say stop whining and just hit it!

  6. Another thought is how will this effect the manufacturers? Probably very little, everyone will still need a putter. Unlike the groove change that is a windfall for manufactures, every company that sells any product would love to have all of that product “ruled” illegal and require all it’s customers to buy a new version!! Many people have played a set of clubs for years, now or shortly, those clubs will be technically illegal and will have to be replaced if you want to compete.

  7. There are so few people, pros and amateur alike, can your evaluation of the “best putters on tour” be valid as a measure of the anchored putters impact or eventual impact? If you go back to 1970 or 1960 or even 1980 there were only a couple of people that even used this implements. Maybe only “poor putters” are currently using the anchoring technique?

  8. I believe you are correct (make sure there is a problem first) but USGA may make a ruling anyway. A comment to USGA: you need me and my membership much more than I need you to enjoy and play golf.

    • Frank, I like your 3 thoughts for the belly putter debate currently. Using one does not guarantee wins. Just ask Adam Scott, who missed the 3 footer on 16 and 8 footer on 18 to lose the Open Championship. Extra Thought: When 1st introduced, the belly putter should have been outlawed. However, it’s use by several veteran pro’s helped to remain competitive and allow us to see them play on TV. Using one does not always create success… Let’s see if the wind blows at Kiawah for the PGA, how well the long putters perform on those undulating greens.

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