Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Tiger: Ban belly putters -- and he's right

   I'm getting the sense that the future of belly putters and long putters may not be as secure as the clubs tucked into the navels of Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Bill Haas and others.

   Tiger Woods became the latest to chime on the subject of whether the longer than standard putters should be banned today when he said during his pre-tournament press conference at Pebble Beach that he thinks the clubs should be outlawed and he's spoken to Peter Dawson, head man at the Royal & Ancient, about it more than once.

   Woods solution is sensible -- create a rule that requires the putter be no longer than the shortest club in your bag. That solves the dilemma created by players anchoring putters against their bodies.

  "I believe (putting) is the art of controlling the body and club and swinging the pendelum. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to that," Woods said in his press conference.

   The subject is under review. USGA executive director Mike Davis said so last week at the organization's annual meeting. He didn't say there would be a change in the rules coming (few things move at such a glacial pace as changes in golf's rules) but he opened the door on it. There have also been published reports suggesting the Royal & Ancient is looking into whether anchoring putters against the body helps players in the wind and rain.

   Without diminishing what Simpson or Bradley or Fred Couples have done with the unconventional blade, I fall in line with Woods and others who think the game is better without belly or long putters. And I'm a guy who can three-putt from three feet -- and have.

   I've heard the dissenters point to Billy Casper and others who anchored their hands against their thighs when they putted. Change that, too, then. In no other stroke does a player anchor the club against their body. Putting shouldn't be different.

   I've also heard the argument that if belly putters were that great, everyone would use them. Obviously, everybody doesn't use them but more and more players are. Ernie Els swore he'd never use one but now he has one in his bag. Even Phil Mickelson gave it a try.

   The game changes. The ball goes forever now. Shafts, space-age materials in driver heads and computer fitting are in danger of tilting the game too far toward science and too far from skill. It may be too late to pull back on that one.

   But belly putters and long putters. It's not too late -- yet.

19 comments:

Archiguy said...

Agree 100%. Golf doesn't have too many loopholes in its rules left to exploit after 500 years, but this is surely one. Close it up; make 'em swing the club. God wants it that way.

Anonymous said...

The way Tiger has been putting the last few years, he might want to
try one! With all his off course distractions he needs all the help he can get!

Anonymous said...

I don't see a problem with belly putters or long putters at all. They aren't necessarily inherently better for all players. Sam Snead was using a long putter 40 years ago.

While we are on the subject of golf rules, for goodness sake get rid of the stroke and distance penalty from Out of Bounds. No one goes back to the tee box when they find their ball OB unless it is on tour or some kind of tournament involving $$$. Just play it where it crossed into the OB and take a stroke penalty.

Anonymous said...

Tiger would crush if he used a belly!

jjw901 said...

I have yet to hear a rationable explanation of why this is even a problem. As for Woods' "solution" being sensible - no it's not. It's simply his arbitrary opinion.

Anonymous said...

Well said Ron, I could not agree more. Belly putters seem like cheating to me.

Anonymous said...

... um, ok
... wouldn't that help Tiger defend himself from his next girlfriend?

Anonymous said...

So I guess we shouldn't mark or clean our ball when we're on the green either since we can't do that with any other club either. Your argument is stupid. The rules don't say you can't brace your other clubs against your body, so who cares if you do your putter?

Anonymous said...

If that's the case then let's go back to wooden drivers. I'd love to see who's the best with that technology...

Anonymous said...

When the average player can reach a most par 5's with a driver and a short iron, it seems the impact of a belly putter is insignificant. If Tiger wants to be more "old school", he can put woods back in his bag.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you and Tiger on this one. I hope they do outlaw the belly putters and the long putters...and I'm 68 years old and never used either !

Anonymous said...

What's the difference - golf is a ridiculous in some of it's 'rules'.

A golfer hits the ball off the tee, takes a relatively leisurely stroll to his ball for the next shot. When he gets the ball on the green he then proceeds to mark his place, pick the ball up and WASH IT! We won't even mention the fact that they require complete SILENCE to putt - cant have their concentration disturbed!

Want to make a golf a real 'sport' - include a time limit from tee shot to first putt. Put the golfers under real pressure - allow heckling and talking from spectators at the greens. If a batter can hit a 90 mph fast ball thrown from 60'6" away with a crowd screaming, a golfer should be able to hit a ball lying perfectly still on the ground....if he can't - go get another job.

J said...

I don't like belly putters either. I agree that your body should not be an anchor for your club. And besides, they look ridiculous.

Nathan Forrest said...

Tiger could have said anything and jr. would have said it was right...

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered how those putters could be legal. There are such strict rules about other clubs and the balls for that matter, but you can use any size putter you want? Why can't you use some sort of automated cue-stick type device? What about a putter with wheels on it to make it go straight.

Plus, it's one thing if you're old and can't bend down so often, but some of these young guys look simply ridiculous using them!

Anonymous said...

Why can't we get rid of these oversized metal drivers. Think the golf god Tiger would be in favor of that. He just wants them banned cause he can't win a tornament and hopes it helps him. Ron you may worship him but you forgot to mention he is the 2nd most hated athelete in the USA.

jjw901 said...

Well, I didn't really expect an explanation so I guess I can't be disappointed that noone has come up with a rational reason as to why these putters should be illegal.

Want to fix some rules? How about giving relief for having a perfectly good tee shot roll into a divot that some moron didn't fix? Or for an unraked size 12 footprint in a bunker?

Anonymous said...

If it gives golfers the want and need to be out on the course playing...Who cares!! It is great for the game of golf, and open to all golfers amateur and pro!! If this is the case get rid of all hybrid clubs etc.

Anonymous said...

With a belly putter winning the US Open, this subject should be on the minds of PGA professionals again. Tiger Woods is right, and so is Ernie Els, and many others. They are wrong for the professional game.

Good grief, Tiger haters, why do you spend so much time thinking about him? Sad for you.