Monday, July 23, 2012

Is decision near on belly and long putters?

  Is a decision looming on the legality of the long and belly putters?
  It sounds like it.
  During his post-Open Championship press conference Monday, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson explained that his organization and the USGA are giving the subject a long, serious look. Not coincidentally, the question was raised again after belly putter-wielding Ernie Els won the Open after long-putter whiz Adam Scott kicked it away over the final holes.
   You had to wonder what the R&A suits were thinking watching Scott, Els and others putt with sticks that don't fit the traditional version of what a putter should be.
   Perhaps the belly putter is slightly more tolerable to the game's ruling elders than the broomstick-style that has helped Scott so much but the notion of seeing a new generation of youngsters growing up with putters stuck in their bellies or sternums must be disconcerting to the traditionalists.
   If you ask me, you shouldn't be able to anchor a club to your body during a stroke whether you're doing it like Scott does it, like Els does it, like Bernhard Langer used to do it and like any other putting-afflicted soul does battle on the greens. It doesn't mean I'm right, only that I think golfers should be required to make a stroke, not use a pendulum.
   That's not to discredit in any way the major championship victories of Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson or Ernie Els. If belly putting or long putting is so great, everyone would do it. They don't. 
   It's not a cure-all. But it's a growing trend and while the argument can be made it's already too far down the line to draw it back now, it bears examination.
   "Anchoring is what we're looking at, method of stroke, and it's all about putting around a fixed pivot point, whether that fixed pivot point is in your belly or under your chin or on your chest," Dawson told reporters Monday. "I don't distinguish between the two. It's a matter of stroke issue."
  Don't expect an immediate announcement but perhaps something later this year.
  And if you've abandoned the short putter for a belly or long putter, keep a short putter around just in case. 


Archiguy said...

I think what will happen is that they will be banned at the professional level, and maybe official USGA events. I don't see them banning them for the average golfer. That horse is out of the barn.

Is this what happened with the "U" shaped grooves that were banned?

Anonymous said...

don't ban them, just penalize every player one shot every time he strokes the ball with the putter anchored against his body

Bill Stevens said...

U shaped grooves can not be manufactured after January 2010. Much discussion has been around but many believe this will only affect iron play out of the rough. By January 2014 all USGA and R&A events will require use of the the new grooves. By January 2020, the USGA and R&A will review to see if the new grooves have performed as expected. If so, by January 2024, players must be using the new grooves to have their scores submitted for valid handicaps.

As you might expect though, any player playing at least 20 rounds of golf a year, will have worn out the original grooves and while they may delay buying the new wedges due to the new rule, they will be penalizing themselves due to the wear instead of using newer wedges.