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Tony Covey MGS

Reviving the Long/Belly Putter Debate

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Make it 3 (+1 more) in a row for long and belly putters. First Adam Scott wins with a Cameron Broomstick at the WGC Bridgestone, then Keegan Bradley wins the PGA Championship with an Odyssey belly putter, and now Web Simpson with a PING Craz-E Long. Freddy Couples also won his first Senior Major (Constellation Energy) this weekend with a bully putter. Are you ready to try one yet?

 

Interestingly, in the most recent episode of Feherty on The Golf Channel Phil Mickleson's caddy, Jim "Bones' MacKay, when asked what he thought was wrong with the game, answered by saying he would basically outlaw the belly putter. Of course, given Phil's recent propensity for missing putts in the 6 foot range, I can't help but think he could benefit as much as anyone from the switch. So while adoption of long putters is more widespread than ever, it's clear not everyone inside the ropes thinks they should be legal.

 

It seems like the long putter debate is on roughly a 7 year cycle. While a few dabbled with long putters previously, it was really Paul Azinger who kicked off the debate when he switched to a belly putter in 1999. Things quieted a bit until 2006-2007 when Vijay Singh and a few others found relative success with a belly putter. At that time there were rumblings and grumblings that the USGA might try and do something about the problem, or plague as some saw it.

 

Here we are in 2011 and the PGA's "regular season" has closed out with the 3 tournament long winning streak for long and belly putters. Considering guys with credentials like Couples, and Ernie Else are using longer flatsticks, I think it's safe to say that long putters are more mainstream than ever. What remains to be seen is whether or not the USGA will freak out and go all new groove rule on the belly putters (or at least try).

 

We've kind of asked this before but... what do you think?

 

  • Should belly and broomstick putters remain legal, or should they be outlawed?
  • If you switched to a longer putter, why did you do it?
  • If you tried a longer putter but didn't switch, why not...did it simply not work for you (miss left, miss right, distance control?), or did you simply feel like an idiot standing there with a putter nearly as long (if not longer) than your driver? Did your buddies mock you?
  • Have you not tried a longer putter? Why not? No interest, limited stock at retail?

 

We're wondering what the MyGolfSpy readers think of the recent run of good results with belly and long putters.

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I've thought about this quite a bit and I just can't get too excited about banning the long putter. If some people find it helpful, great. Do I think it's an advantage? Maybe to some, but not to others. We don't ban players from using mallet putters even though those might be an advantage compared to blade putters. Also, golf needs to GROW, and I fear that for players who have the yips, taking away their belly putters might drive them out of the game.

 

Personally (and I know I've said this before somewhere), I don't think I could make the switch because it would make me feel like a bad putter which would lead to me being a bad putter.

 

Also, to your last point, I find very few long or belly putters at retail. It's weird, because the ones we have always get snapped up quickly. Perhaps this three week stretch will result in more stock.

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I say use whatever works. I don't think it should matter whether or not a guy cab anchor a putter against his body. Thats the same as playing an extreme MOI mallet putter. The way I see it, the player still has to get the line and the speed right. A player could putt horridly with a long putter (me, for example). It's all a matter of preference and what works best for the individual golfer.

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I say use whatever works. I don't think it should matter whether or not a guy cab anchor a putter against his body. Thats the same as playing an extreme MOI mallet putter. The way I see it, the player still has to get the line and the speed right. A player could putt horridly with a long putter (me, for example). It's all a matter of preference and what works best for the individual golfer.

 

I agree.

 

If the putter actually worked as well as some of it's fans claim, it would have been made illegal.

 

 

Shambles

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What debate. There legal, and the horse has bolted in term or outlawing them.

 

I may be a little biased. I've been using 1 one 90% of the time the last 3 years. I can still miss putts just as easily as with a std length.

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I think the belly putters should be outlawed. I don't have a problem with other long putters as long as they are not anchored to the body. It IS an advantage to have a club anchored to your body as it makes your stroke much more consistent. This is very different than considering a blade putter versus a mallet. That is more of a difference with respect to feel and also swing type (most putters using an arced stroke prefer blade putters, most straight back, straight through putters prefer mallets and of course there are always exceptions). Of course, it is an advantage to use a putter that fits your stroke well (but not an unfair advantage). I believe that anchoring the club to your body provides an unfair advantage. As such, I think we will begin to see more and more PGA players switching to belly/long putters because they need every advantage that they can get (unless the USGA outlaws them).

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I think the belly putters should be outlawed. I don't have a problem with other long putters as long as they are not anchored to the body. It IS an advantage to have a club anchored to your body as it makes your stroke much more consistent. This is very different than considering a blade putter versus a mallet. That is more of a difference with respect to feel and also swing type (most putters using an arced stroke prefer blade putters, most straight back, straight through putters prefer mallets and of course there are always exceptions). Of course, it is an advantage to use a putter that fits your stroke well (but not an unfair advantage). I believe that anchoring the club to your body provides an unfair advantage. As such, I think we will begin to see more and more PGA players switching to belly/long putters because they need every advantage that they can get (unless the USGA outlaws them).

 

I can't say I agree with the notion of an unfair advantage. If it was universally true that everyone who uses a belly putter putts better, than simple logic would dictate that everyone on the PGA tour would start using one. Clearly that's not the case, as it appears they don't work well for everyone. I don't think anyone would argue that a person who putts well with a conventional putter has an unfair advantage over someone who doesn't putt as well. My thinking is that if the equipment in question doesn't compromise the integrity of the game AND everyone playing has equal access and opportunity to utilize that equipment then I don't have a problem with it. It's not as if Keegan Bradley is the only one on tour with access to Odyssey belly putters.

 

I would also point out that although I look pretty stupid doing it (and it's really uncomfortable), I am able to anchor my standard length putter to my belly and putt reasonably well with it. Would you ban based on length, or simply outlaw the anchoring of the club? I think once you start regulating a "legal" swing you've ventured on to a very slippery slope.

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How to write the rule is an interesting issue. Would this ban also outlaw the Matt Kucher "putter shaft up the left forearm" approach?

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I can't say I agree with the notion of an unfair advantage. If it was universally true that everyone who uses a belly putter putts better, than simple logic would dictate that everyone on the PGA tour would start using one. Clearly that's not the case, as it appears they don't work well for everyone. I don't think anyone would argue that a person who putts well with a conventional putter has an unfair advantage over someone who doesn't putt as well. My thinking is that if the equipment in question doesn't compromise the integrity of the game AND everyone playing has equal access and opportunity to utilize that equipment then I don't have a problem with it. It's not as if Keegan Bradley is the only one on tour with access to Odyssey belly putters.

 

I would also point out that although I look pretty stupid doing it (and it's really uncomfortable), I am able to anchor my standard length putter to my belly and putt reasonably well with it. Would you ban based on length, or simply outlaw the anchoring of the club? I think once you start regulating a "legal" swing you've ventured on to a very slippery slope.

 

Very good points. Personally, I would write the rule stating that the club cannot be anchored to the torso during any swing. Perhaps you are correct and it is not advantageous to anchor the club to your body; however, putting experts like Dave Pelz have stated that creating an anchored fulcrum is a significant advantage. (http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/Long+belly+putters+give+golfers+unfair+advantage/5269350/story.html). It is possible to create a similar stroke without anchoring the putter, but Pelz believes that this takes more skill.

 

I think this is an interesting debate, and I'm not sold 100% either way. With respect to your comment about the number of PGA tour players using a belly/long putter we will have to wait and see. Currently the number of belly/long putters on tour is increasing very rapidly, and it seems possible that in the near future this number will increase even further.

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Very good points. Personally, I would write the rule stating that the club cannot be anchored to the torso during any swing. Perhaps you are correct and it is not advantageous to anchor the club to your body; however, putting experts like Dave Pelz have stated that creating an anchored fulcrum is a significant advantage. (http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/Long+belly+putters+give+golfers+unfair+advantage/5269350/story.html). It is possible to create a similar stroke without anchoring the putter, but Pelz believes that this takes more skill.

 

I think this is an interesting debate, and I'm not sold 100% either way. With respect to your comment about the number of PGA tour players using a belly/long putter we will have to wait and see. Currently the number of belly/long putters on tour is increasing very rapidly, and it seems possible that in the near future this number will increase even further.

 

Anchoring the putter can be an advantage, but all putters can be anchored to the torso, long or short. The long is obvious but the short is subtle. You create the anchor by letting your arms fall straight, thereby using you arms as a lengthening of the shaft anchoring to the torso through your shoulders. The telling difference is that the short putter is anchored via two legs of a triangle and the long putter by the shaft alone, which thereby reduces the opportunities for error.

 

Regardless of which length putter you choose, the goal of being able to make a straight putt with controlled distance is the same. Regardless of whatever putting method you find success in, your continuing challenge after learning to putt will be in reading the green correctly and accurately. That's an area that belongs to the player alone regardless of what putter he chooses to play or how it is built, or what material is used.

 

Personally I prefer the standard putter, but have no problems with a player who chooses the longer putter. I doubt there is yet invented a putter with a decisive built in advantage.

 

Shambles

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