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Is the use of belly putters unethical?

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Iain Carter | 15:47 UK time, Monday, 16 January 2012

Watching Johnson Wagner's PGA Tour victory in Hawaii served another reminder that putters will continue to be one of the biggest talking points in golf.

Although Wagner wielded a conventional short stick to stab home his winning two footer (he nearly missed) the leaderboard was peppered with players using all manner of implements to negotiate the greens.

Most striking was Matt Every's BlackHawk putter with its oversized head that resembled the top of a shoe box attached to a conventional length shaft. It proved highly effective for three rounds and downright ugly on all four days.

"It gets my hands in the same spot every time," said Every, who entered the final round tied for the lead. "I just feel a lot more square over the putt. It's the first tournament. If I start playing well with it, maybe it will catch on."

If it does become popular with the pro's it may improve putting stats but will do nothing for the aesthetics of the game and much the same could be said of the plethora of belly putters and broomhandles that seem to be growing ever more popular.

Keegan Bradley, who finished tied thirteenth in Hawaii, made the breakthrough by becoming the first to win a major using a belly putter. His PGA triumph last August was seen as the breaking of a hoodoo.

Until that point it was felt the golfing gods would allow the odd Tour success (especially if you are a senior) but the use of an anchor point to strike a putt would never be worthy of winning one of the big four championships.

Golfers have been using extended putters for decades now and here is a less romantic and probably more realistic assessment of why it has taken so long for one of these implements to win a major.

Adam Scott with his belly putter

Australian Adam Scott has seen his form improve since opting to use a long-handled putter. Photo: Getty

In the past they have been wielded by players keen to try something new after losing their touch or nerve on the greens.

The yippers have sought to use them as a crutch and take advantage of the consistency that can be gained from having a set anchor point either in the belly, chest or chin.

"The belly and the broomstick are definitely superior methods," says Jonny Miller, who experimented with a 45 inch putter more than thirty years ago.

"When the axis doesn't move, the shaft angle at impact is always exactly where you started it at address - which is a huge thing in putting," he says in Golf World magazine.

Miller contends that these clubs add to a player's longevity. Certainly someone like Adam Scott has benefitted after his career appeared in free-fall until he started sweeping them in with his broomhandle.

Scott is a convert but now there is a generation of players led by Bradley and Webb Simpson who have grown up with these extended clubs. They use them because they suit their games and happen to be very good on the greens as well.

So they are not putting them in their bags because they have become poor putters. By definition they are more likely to be able to withstand the pressures of trying to land a big title.

But should these clubs be an option for either the failing putter or the new young gun who has known no different?

Should you be able to use an anchor point? Isn't it contrary to the spirit and nature of the game? If you've lost your putting touch why should you be allowed a crutch? And if you are a good putter, why should you be allowed to make the task even easier?

These are questions that should have been dealt with properly thirty years ago yet the R and A's Chief Executive Peter Dawson says: "We're not getting in a lather about it at this point."

Dawson's counterpart at the USGA, Mike Davis, is on record as saying he "can't stand the look" of the long putter but insists: "There's no evidence it is a game changer."

Putting stats still show the conventional putter to be more effective and Luke Donald, the finest putter in the world at the moment, is testament to that with his text book style (all be it with a putter head that looks like it could pick up an analogue TV signal).

But there can be no denying that the percentage of players using longer putters is rising all the time. Will that eventually change the game and put the R and A and USGA into a collective lather?

Or has the horse bolted anyway?

Legislating against long putters and anchor points is fraught with difficulty particularly when it is carried out retrospectively.

A standard putter can be a long one to a smaller person and anchoring the club may be the only option if you are, say, trying to hit from under a bush. Such nuances would have to be catered for if they are to be outlawed.

One answer might be to limit the length and number of grips on a putter. The broom handle generally has two separate pieces of rubber and belly putters extend their grips sometimes more than halfway down the shaft.

This element sets these clubs apart from any other implement in the bag and there appears room for movement for the rules makers as well.

Rule 14-3 states: "The R & A reserves the right at any time to change the rules on artificial devices, unusual equipment and the unusual use of equipment, and to make or change the interpretations in relation to these rules."

It could be argued that a grip that is longer than that which appears on every other club is "unusual" and so perhaps there is already scope to act.

Having said that, with every week that passes these putters become ever more prevalent and therefore less unusual. Like them or loathe them they seem destined to be with us for a very long time.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    A good solution could be to let the individual tournament organisers decide.

    If a golfer was going from tournament to tournament with constant changes in what putter they were aloud to use, they would surely settle on the most consistent option to practise and compete i.e. a regular putter.

    This would get most pro's at the top of their game using a traditional putter, but would still leave tournaments open to the over the hill types that may need the anchor.

    I for one am not a fan of the longer putters and wouldn't be sad to see a cmplete ban on them.

  • Comment number 2.

    The R&A could and should have introduced a ban on these putters years ago, now it is too late, they are in mass production and usage. Dawson and the blazers should hang their heads in shame, for allowing the challenge of the game of golf to be diluted in such a manner.

  • Comment number 3.

    Every golfer has the choice under the rules so why the gripe

  • Comment number 4.

    The question, in my mind, is do anchor-point putters (belly or broom-handle) confer an unfair advantage? My immediate answer would be no, as all players have the option to use them as of now - some do, some don't. Although golf is a game pretty much built on etiquette, I don't see the ethical relevance. The rules should be purely objective and independent on what "feels" right. You can use them or you can't.

    The fact is that the use of these putters is fairly similar to conventional putters in that the player must still stand square to the line of putt, swing the club infront of their body (i.e. not croquet-style through their legs) and strike the ball with the face of the club. Although the handle may get jammed into the navel (more obvious on some players than others), I feel that there is still a huge opportunity to swing the club offline, never mind the twisting of the face during the swing, to mean that many putts will still be missed. Most people who play the game understand that putting in particular is hugely mental and confidence-based. An unconfident belly putter player will still miss a hatful of makeable putts in a tournament - I just don't see the basis for a ban.

    As you mention, Iain, the statistics (aha, that old chestnut!) show that there is no obvious link to winning and this type of club usage. Yet.

  • Comment number 5.

    Mike Davis is correct; there is no evidence that these putters are game changers so why, after all this time, consider their suitability. Their greatest value, in my opinion, is using them as a club's length when taking a drop.

  • Comment number 6.

    It is not just the 'broom-handle' putters that are having an adverse effect on the game. It is the whole 'new technology' aspect which is now associated with virtually every club and golf ball - most notably the driver. The introduction of 'hybrid' clubs, adjustable weighted driver heads depending on your swing, truly ridiculous putter head shapes, etc, etc. is detracting from the game not only from an aesthetical point of view but a moral one too. Golf is going down the F1 GP route whereby the ability/talent of the drivers being the most important factor -as it should be - is in fact now of secondary importance to the development of new technology and having the finances to utilise it.

  • Comment number 7.

    #2
    "The R&A could and should have introduced a ban on these putters years ago, now it is too late, they are in mass production and usage."

    I have to disagree with this assessment, as all irons have just been changed because of square grooves, and these have been in production for sometime and there are infinitely more of them on the market.

    Personally I do not agree with the use of belly/long handle putters, but cannot see the authorities doing anything about them in the near future, if ever.

  • Comment number 8.

    Contender for worlds biggest over-reaction from maxmerit.

    I agree with titanicus to be honest. I cant see a single valid argument for the banning of the belly putter other than because they are new (relativley) and they are ugly/ungainly.

    But Metal headed/titanium drivers were new once and nowhere near as nice looking as a well made persimmon club but there werent calls from the amateur ranks for them to be banned, because we all benefitted from them.

    Equally the putter Matt Every used was just as horrible as your average long putter, Ian Poulters trousers are often disgusting, and those White Taylor Made drivers look like someone at the factory had too much time and a truck load of Tippex.

    My point is that none of the above would/could be banned on the basis of looks, its equally unfair to do it to the belly putter

  • Comment number 9.

    as usual, you have raised a question and avoided answering it.

  • Comment number 10.

    To suggest that 'new technology' is not affecting the finishing order of tournaments is in my view incorrect. Greg Norman's status as no. 1 in the world was due in no small part to his ability to hit long straight drives with monotonous regularity. When the 'bucket-headed', scientific-influenced drivers started to appear, the advantage his natural talent had given him was lost.

  • Comment number 11.

    They're great for holing out but they don't tell you how hard to hit it. Which is half what putting is about - line and length. I find them hard to judge pace.

    As you rightly quoted Miller - they are for 'Twitchers' to get a second chance.

    They are also good for getting a feeling of what a good putting stoke should feel like -
    look at Goose and Sergio - much better putters now with the short stick after using a belly putter.

    There is no unfair advantage. If there was, they would all be using them.

    Its just like cavity back irons, a trade off for feel over ball striking.

  • Comment number 12.

    Sorry Tom, but golf is nothing like F1.

    As amateurs we have handicaps that allow a 70 year old man using the tatty old clubs he always used to beat the young buck bombing it miles with all his shiny new clubs. In the Pro's they all have access to the very best equipment so they can have no excuse on that front, if their equipment lets them down they can only blame themselves.

    Greg Norman lost his advantage because he got older and better youngers players came on the scene. Only last year Lee Westwood got to number one thanks in no small part to his ability to hit long, straight drives with monotonous regularity. The ability to do so is still very much a valuable asset.

  • Comment number 13.

    The difference between winning and losing is more often than not about draining putts. Making birdies when you give yourself a chance, and scrambling for pars when you hit a loose one. Putting is not rocket science, pick a line, judge the pace, make a solid stroke and keep the putter square through the ball.

    That is the same principle for us mere mortals as it is for the guys (and gals) at the upper echelons of the game.

    So the difference between the best and the rest is holding your nerve on the greens when it counts, and to my mind that is where broomhandle and belly putters detract from the skills of the game. They enable players to take the nerves and the twitchiness from their hands and fix the putter to their core.

    The long putters became common amongst aging pros who had lost their bottle on the greens as the yips took over, and were allowed as no one likes to see people jabbing short putts. I'm pretty sure if the R&A or USPGA ever suspected they would become prevalent on the main tours then they would have been made illegal there and then.

    Unfortunately to take action now would have major implications as there are now young golfers learning their trade (and winning Majors!) with them. That doesn't change my personal opinion however that the laws should be changed, and quickly, before any more damage is done to the skills of the game we all love.

  • Comment number 14.

    Regardless of whatever putter you use, be it a broom handle or a walking stick, you still have to put the ball in the hole. getting in a tizzy over the look of the game kind of misses the point. If innovation wasn't part and parcel of the game, we'd all still be using Niblecks and spooners with a gutta percha ball.

  • Comment number 15.

    I don't think they should be allowed, i also don't think caddies should be allowed to help you line up putts or shots, although that is more prevalent in the women's game.

  • Comment number 16.

    Got to disagree with TomCarter regarding adjustable drivers, you still need to hit the ball properly for them to work, I can spray the ball all over the course with one of those just as easily as I do with a "normal" driver.

    What I don't agree with is the use of a broom-handle putter for measuring "one-club's length" when taking a drop, that's an unfair advantange, there should be a maximum length for the club being used for that, most people use their driver, so around 45 inches would be sensible (although I think one of the manufacturers has just released a 48 inch driver!).

  • Comment number 17.

    Interesting piece Iain.

    Personanlly, I dislike the concept of belly / broomhandle putters as well as 64o lob wedges! As the great Seve said, everyone should use 12 clubs only with a standard putter length and maximum loft of 56o and then we will find the best player.

    One other comment, if these hideous broomhandle putters are to be kept in the game, players should be banned from using them when measuring a drop or taking relief!

  • Comment number 18.

    Why oh why does everyone forget that Angel Cabrera won the Masters with a belly putter?

    Surely it is not that hard to check a small fact like that.

  • Comment number 19.

    Technology seems to be more important than skill and ability these days. Cycling and swimming have had to take action to combat the excesses that have taken place whilst football seems to have actively encouraged changes in ball characteristics that create more goals through luck. Golf needs to be careful it doesn't follow F1 where it's not how good you are but what equipment you use that define where you finish.

    I know equipment sponsors wouldn't allow it but it would be nice to see a tournament where all place use the same set of clubs to see who's actually the best player.

  • Comment number 20.

    lets face it, the only reason most of us don't like them is because they don't look like we imagine a traditional putter should. it's sort of like the metal woods v wooden woods debate at the end of the 80s. at the end of it all if everyone is allowed the same tools then we're all on on a level playing field and there's no doubt the modern equipment has made the game more popular and accessible which can only be a good thing.

  • Comment number 21.

    Tradition and sportsmanship are two central values in golf and I don't believe that using belly or broom handle putters support these values.

    There is always a lot of emphasis put on "how many majors" a player wins during their golfing career. I accept technology moves on and players will always be looking to use the latest equipment that gives them an edge (or a perceived edge). However, the more the tools (clubs) of the golfer differ from the traditional shape, I think the more difficult it becomes to compare golfers from different eras.

    Using a large headed driver is one thing, but using different parts of the body to control a shot is another.

  • Comment number 22.

    I dont mind the lenght of putters, what I think is that you should not be allowed to 'steady' the putters using your body as a belly putter does. They should insist that the stroke is a free hands only movment.

  • Comment number 23.

    It started with the driver head's getting bigger and bigger now we have the putter issue. Why dont we go the whole hog and make the hole bigger?

  • Comment number 24.

    Belly putters must provide an advantage. The addition of a fixed anchor point can only make it easier. Reading the greens will remain important, but if you have removed the potential for minor changes at impact then the game will be easier. That 4 foot putt now relies on aiming for the topside or bottom edge of the hole and giving it a firm whack. The certainty of making the putt is much higher. Why don't we just make the hole bigger? ;-)

  • Comment number 25.

    #18 MickV17 I've just looked at video of Cabrera. He certainly has a belly putter style club with an extended grip, but the shaft does not appear long enough to reach his stomach so he is not using the contentious anchor point.

  • Comment number 26.

    I have been using a belly putter for about 10 years. It helps me avoid flicking with my wrists, leading to inconsistent distance control, a problem I always had with a conventional length putter. In other respects it does not give any advantage over others.

    If you were to start banning one particular type of putter (especially on the grounds of anaesthetic appearance) where does it all end... ban cavity back irons, graphite shafts, oversize drivers.

    Let everyone choose their own weapons and take or leave any advantage they think they give.

  • Comment number 27.

  • Comment number 28.

    I can't stand belly putters. It really infuriates me when golfers use them. It must provide an advantage, as Andrew Hirst mentions above, when resting the putter on a "fixed anchor point".

    Whenever anyone wins a tournament after using a belly putter, I always feel as though they have rather cheated their way to the win. On top of this, I think it looks ugly. I know golf is always about the aesthetics but it aggravates me whenever I see a golfer using one.

  • Comment number 29.

    Aesthetics has absolutely nothing to do with it - If Johnd Daly and Ian Poulter can wear some of the outfits they do then complaining about an ugly putter is silly.

    Ethics - surely this is an individual choice? Darren Clarke won The Open at a ripe old age with a conventional putter, and there are others who have won with longer ones. If they are available for all to use then its free will and as others have said in such a competitive game each participant will try and eek out every advantage they can

  • Comment number 30.

    #28

    "it must provide an advantage" - if this was the case then every golfer would be using them. Every golfer is different. Some have mind coaches, fitness coaches, lifestyle coaches, others tee it up and smack it and away they go.

    Having tried a belly putter and a broom handle putter I cannot think of a more awkward, feel-less instrument with which to get the ball in the hole - and that is my individual judgement, which every golfer on tour makes as to whether they use one or not.

  • Comment number 31.

    realised there was a typo "golf ISN'T always about the aesthetics" I meant to say!!

  • Comment number 32.

    Of course bellys and broom handles are an unfair advantage. The best dont use them and thats why they are the best, but more players are turning to them which destroys the art of the hardest part of the game. Adam Scott should have worked at it, not turned to technology and a body guide. Technology is the key here, as we all know from 460cc modern drivers. If you have too many new devices you reduce the difficulty too much, and puttinig should remain hard, and something that distinguishes the true greats from the also rans. Think how boring it will be in 10 years time when they all use these, pitch close, and never miss. You have been warned !

  • Comment number 33.

    #32

    if that was the case then every amateur golfer in the land would be using them - we have 150 members at my club and not a single belly putter.

    all the players ranked 50-400 in the world would be using them if they provided such a huge advantage.

    putting is a mind game

  • Comment number 34.

    Surely the technology follows the money. Golf is a hobby taken up by generally more affluent people, hence companies like Nike, Titliest and Callaway are prepared to invest millions in developing new products for the dummies who have the disposable income to purchase the new better clubs.

  • Comment number 35.

    It may be too late to ban these awful broomhandles (though I'd still like to see them banned) but here's a compromise that enables yippers to stay in the game and traditionalists like me to be able to enjoy the big tournaments: don't ban them - just ban their use in all the majors.

  • Comment number 36.

    i see Iain Carter has stolen my issue! look at the last 20 blogs when we've all been debating issues in the game. I have constantly went on about belly putters. Iain clearly now knows who talks about the most relevant issues in the game - me.
    I stand by what i ahve always said - Belly Putters are a joke, they should be disallowed. Anyone using one should be totally embarressed.

  • Comment number 37.

    Yorkshire-blogster - there is still a stigma and pride issue for the amatuer to use one, just like there has been with new gear on the pro circuit in the past. Once they are not seen as the freaky option there will be more in the amatuer bags. Just go to a big golf store and see how many amatuers are trying them out. They want it, they havent got the nerve yet to be seen with it. If there was no advantage, the argument would have gone away years ago.

  • Comment number 38.

    This is an intersting article Iain as previously, like other contributors, my thoughts were simply 'it can't be such an advantage otherwise everyone would be doing it' or 'why aren't the putting stats led by users of the belly putter'.

    I'm now thinking that perhaps it is a real advantage and that the only reason that we haven't seen this so far is that the only people using it are the poorer putters.

    Now we're seeing younger players come through who've been encouraged to use this from an early age and it coule be that they are in a position to make the most of this unfair advantage.

    I don't think any of the current exponents of the belly putter are as good at putting as someone such as Luke Donald but the question is - if Luke had used the belly putter from the age of 10, would he be an even better putter than he is now?

    It's an interesting debate but i can't see how it can be proved either way.

    P.S. Every's huge putter did indeed look hideous. Why on earth would someone need a putter that big.

  • Comment number 39.

    Personally I would prefer to see every golfer use the conventional putter, but I do not see this as a major issue in golf, my concern for golf is that technology has made it a game of power and accuracy over skill and dexterity, it is basically target golf, where the courses are overpowered by the likes of Webb Simpson who can hit his 7 iron 240 yards (to mention just one example), the result of this is that all courses even for the amateur are now 6,500 or more yards, a round of golf that used to take just over 3 hours is now a 4 and a half hour endurance test.
    Surely the first part of the answer is to introduce a standard ball such as the balata that was used 15 or so years ago, this will travel significantly shorter distances and is more adaptable to being shaped right of left. At a later date the technology of the clubs can be addressed, but golf needs to get back to being the game it was during its golden era of the 60's to the 80's, the "golfer" generation is now in its 50's and are not being replaced by a similar number of the younger generation. The R&A need to recognise this and take action.

  • Comment number 40.

    #37 Keith,

    Fair point and I can understand that issue especially amongst club golfers, anything new is ridiculed and bantered about amongst us mere mortals

    But having tried one of each I still don't buy the argument they provide an advantage. With a normal putter if you set your grip, dont move your wrists and move from the shoulders then there is no reason why you cannot bring the putter straight through impact

    Of course the argument is that it is this technique which the belly/broom putters combat, but the belly butter is pivoted on the belly, if you move your legs, knees, hips or elbows whilst making a stroke you are still not better off - there is still a technique to it. and the broom putter is longer so in theory more of the stroke can go wrong - it may improve shorter putting and stop one "jabbing" at the ball but on medium and long putts I would still think its a disadvantage

  • Comment number 41.

    I cant believe the snobbery on here, not just about the use of belly putters but modern technology in general. I suggest a compromise.

    You can play with your traditional gutta percha balls and hickory shafts (If you dont use them then i'd suggest you are being rather hypocritical in criticising some forms of technological advancement whilst using others) meanwhile I and many others will wallow in our moral depravity using our flashy modern technology.

    That way the purists can be happy because they are occupying the moral high ground and looking down on us oiks. Meanwhile the rest of us can be happy as we smash our drives 100 yards past you and knock in putt after putt with our fancy new putters. Its win/win

  • Comment number 42.

    @BiloMcT(36) Maybe he thinks creating a blog especially for it will stop you bringing it up at irrelevant points in other threads!

    Iain's next blog - Just how good was that John Hawksworth shot?!

  • Comment number 43.

    it would be interesting to hear what John Hawksworth thinks about Belly Putters.

  • Comment number 44.

    @42. Trust me, that John Hawksworth shot was amazing.

  • Comment number 45.

    I can't see what all the fuss is about! Having tried belly, broom and conventional putters with different shape heads non really give an advantage - it is the person's ability to use the club that is the advantage. If they are going to argue that these clubs should be banned becuase they give an advantage, then there should be no oversized heads, woods should be woods, no square cuts, no hybrids and balls should be made of rubber bands covered in plastic!

  • Comment number 46.

    York_Blog

    You have a point on the longer puts, and thats probably whats stifled the increase, but increasing they are.

    Jimmy - no-one is saying that advances are a bad thing, and all sport modernises. But in all sport there are some advances that are banned to protect the basic challenge of the sport, and thats what the issue is here. Putting is an art and not the same as smashing modern drivers a bit further. You have to protect the pure elements of your sport. Thats the issue, do they detract from the true game (or will they start to now they are on the rise)

  • Comment number 47.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 48.

    I think the very nature of putting though means that no real advancements in technology can aid you. Yes some people will get on better with longer putters than conventional ones but I think again this is down to individual nature. Scott is a tall bloke, im only 5' 7" and a long putter is probably taller than me! More and more people will use them because they didn't have the alternative before and will prefer them to conventional putters - this does not mean they give you an advantage just that others prefer them.

    it is a different thing to drivers being adjustable to suit a bad swing, with putting the basic element of getting the putter face square through impact will remain

  • Comment number 49.

    Very constructive

  • Comment number 50.

    York_blog

    It's a fair point about height, and I cant see them going. I hope your right and we see a balance with no overall advantage. For the good of the game and the entertainment of seeing the big boys feel the pressure and knocking a few past the cup !

  • Comment number 51.

    Enlighten me Keith. What is the true game?

    The golf we play now, with or without belly putters is nothing like golf when it was 1st played, or when it was 1st codeified, or at the turn of the century (19th to 20th). And far greater changes to the game have been made than simply adding 10 inch to a shaft and sticking it in your naval.

  • Comment number 52.

    If you want a constructive debate about golfing ethics and morals, surely we should be disucssuing more serious topics such as Augusta National, not the length of a putter handle or the shape of a putter head! Really, people need to get their priorities sorted out.

    http://nextgenjournal.com/2011/04/the-dark-side-of-the-masters/

  • Comment number 53.

    I cant believe what Big_Goog said @47. Disgraceful way to talk about Jimmy.

  • Comment number 54.

    I don't think comparing a debate on belly putters to something like whether we should still be using hickory shafts is relevant in the slightest - even short conventional putters had advanced and look like spaceships compared to the blades they used to use before the wars - so everything is relative

    I think the debate centres on whether belly/broom putters make the mechanics of putting easier thus making the task of getting the ball in the hole easier. I would argue it does not.

    Similary one could argue whether a half-moon shaped putter or one of the spaceship style putters makes it easier than using a blade - which I would counter gives more of an advantage compared to a blade than a long over a short putter.

  • Comment number 55.

    Big_Googs post reminded me of a picture that i presume was taken at the protest outside the Masters. There is a smallish group of women looking disgruntled and holding up signs with anti sexist slogans, the typical sort of thing you would expect. Then at the back is a bloke with a sign that simply reads "Iron my shirt". Fairly off topic and not very PC but it made me laugh.

    Thanks for that Bilo :) Following my staunch defence of the belly putter can we still be friends?

  • Comment number 56.

    Belly [and other anchored] putters take a long time to get used to. I tried a chest anchored putter when I was having a 'mare on the greens. It was good on short putts, but I found distance judgement really tricky. They're also difficult to use when it's windy. Ban them? Probably too late now, but I agree that something [in the professional game] could be done about the ball composition, which would limit the big bombers effectiveness.

  • Comment number 57.

    If belly/broomhandle putters did not improve the INDIVIDUAL's performance, he/she would not use it. The putter should be made the SHORTEST club in the player's bag.

  • Comment number 58.

    Why all the hype about the use of different type of putters giving players an unfair advantage.

    If the belly putter made that much of a difference then why isnt every player in the world using them?

    What about the drivers and balls that are helping reduce courses to pitch and putts?

  • Comment number 59.

    A favourite subject of mine this, i love the belly pully, and i think if the pro's want to use it, then let them. But on the other hand i can't believe Iain Carter has brought this subject up!!!! How many times has this subject been brought up? i tell you how many, on nearly every blog he has wrote..

    Nice to see you again BiloMcT,

    where are all the regular bloggers like ; sumo82, mickysausage, don247 and the legend james mathews???

  • Comment number 60.

    i meant belly putter....

  • Comment number 61.

    Agree with maxmerit at No 2 .

    The R&A should have reigned in ( or stopped it in its tracks) all the new "technology" that fed into the game from the eighties onwards . Now we are reaping the results - golf courses that are now defunct because ball/club changes mean that golfers can hit further etc - look at how often Championship Courses have to be lengthened ( and more bunkers put in ) in order to make them challenging for Majors .

    The R&A have not "policed" this well enough - they have given in to commercial pressures. After all the golf equipment market is worth billions.

  • Comment number 62.

    Seems like Iain Carter has finally listened to BiloMcT's pleas for a debate on this....

    The debate about belly putters offering an unfair advantage is nonsense. The new generation of golf ball (eg Pro V1), the oversized drivers, square grooves etc etc have had a massive impact on the game - far more than these putters. The new ball and club technology has levelled the playing field to some extent as all the players can now bomb their drives, overpower courses and stop the ball on the greens from the deep rough.

    The belly putter will probably become more common in the years to come but I don't think everyone will end up using them - as others have said, it works for some players and not for others.

  • Comment number 63.

    Its an interesting debate... personally hate them, so ugly, but cannot see any basis to ban them on an advantage - in my experience maybe they make it easier to hole out from close range, but inferior for touch, in essence it makes it easier to be average, but the best putters will always be using the short stick, as well as those with an ounce of self respect!

  • Comment number 64.

    Like most golfers I'm always looking to improve my game. I never liked the Broomhandle but a few years ago I gave the Belly Putter a try. Initially my putting seemed to improve, but I find that usually happens with a new putter, must be a mental thing. Eventually I realised that the belly putter made no real difference, you still have to judge the pace and line correctly to hole putts and a long putter doesn't help with that. In fact it's very difficult to get the pace right with a Belly Putter on fast greens, it can be lethal. I also found it doesn't really help with pressure putts, doesn't stop you hitting nervy putts that miss. My Belly Putter was consigned to the attic a while ago but my putting has improved immensely recently by using a conventional putter and grip.

    Also, on the subject of new equipment making the game easier, well maybe it helps a little but at the end of the day there is no substitute for a good swing, correct technique and sound fundamentals. Nobody is going to hit the ball 50 yards further no matter what fantastic new driver they've got if they can't make a sound swing at the ball and there is no club yet invented that's going to make up for bad shots.

  • Comment number 65.

    Alexr317

    I disagree about the new equipment. In many cases the new golf balls and drivers have given players an extra 20,30 or 40 yards. Maybe thats not helped the 28 handicappers, but most half-decent amateur golfers have seen a difference I'm sure.

    At an elite level, where the players all have a good, repeating swing the impact has been huge - and as a result many of the courses have had to be lengthened.

    For those who have used the belly putters, an intersting debate would be what is the optimal belly size?

  • Comment number 66.

    Jimmy, we are always mates!
    CHUMBAWUMBA12...Belly Pully eh?! You've always beena clown on here!
    Belly Putters are a disgrace to the game. Anyone using one needs to have a good long hard look at themselves. Belly Putters are a joke.

  • Comment number 67.

    I heard james mathew has the biggest belly

  • Comment number 68.

    I think that everyone is missing a crucial point on the issue of belly/broomhandle putters......THEIR WEIGHT. I teach golf and the principle of the stroke is the pendulum. The weight of these putters make a pendulum stroke MUCH easier.

    Combine that with the benefits of an anchor and you do have a significant and in my opinion, UNFAIR advantage. Of course until they are banned they are legal and I have to put up with them.

    I think Johnson Wagners 2 foot twitch is a perfect example of why the long heavy putters should be banned. When adrenalin levels are high and the pressure is most intense.....the ability to control your heart rate and concentration is at its most difficult and manifests itself in shaky hands......with the long putters, your hands almost don't touch the putter, just guide it.

    Would Doug Sanders have missed that putt if he'd had a long putter?

    I think that the reason that more amateurs don't use the long putter is a question of time and practice to get used to it.

    Retief Goosen used to be one of the best putters in the world and now he's using a belly putter.....did he start twitching or did the long putter make him even better?

    Ban them ASAP.

    If you want a more level playing field, give the pro's a different (shorter) ball.

  • Comment number 69.

    If you take this to its logical conclusion, players will start strapping on putters to themselves in a hanging pivot arrangement, meaning the club will swing in the same arc each time. What do you think? Should pro golfers be allowed to add strap-ons to their kit, or is this a step too far? How about women golfers?

  • Comment number 70.

    @69... Women and strap-ons, are we still talking about golf here??????

    what a number to make this point on!!

  • Comment number 71.

    #68

    Interesting to hear from a teacher, however I am still not convinced. Although it makes the pendulum motion easier the heavier, bulky putters are awkward and give no feel, and for long and mid range putts they will be hard to control I would imagine. I think I do have to concede that on short putts they have an advantage over conventional putters.

    Also the argument of another anchor point for me means it is another thing to go wrong on the putting stroke, by placing the putter on the bully it brings in lower body movement and torso movement more into the putting stroke and makes the chance of a mistake even higher!

  • Comment number 72.

    Two Jo(h)nny Miller points:
    1).He actually WON with a belly putter 25 years ago, not just an experiment.
    2).If a belly putter was to add to everyone's "longevity", everyone's "longevity" would surely be neutralised.
    The horse has definitely bolted, but there's no reason to fear the belly putter; three weeks in August does not a summer make, let alone a sport that's been around for centuries.

  • Comment number 73.

    #BiloMcT

    haha...I hope you mean biggest belly putter!

    I dont use one myself but I dont see it giving anyone an unfair advantage because everyone has the right to use it...if they are so great...then GET ONE and stop complaining!

    Lets ban titanium, steel and carbon fiber and bring back ash, greenheart, purpleheart, lancewood, lemonwood, orangewood, and blue-mahoo and see how these modern pros do with the same "advantages" the golden oldies had!

  • Comment number 74.

    Do two players in Simpson and Bradley really represent the promising youth? Manassero, McIlroy, Fowler, ...

    You could perhaps compare it to hybrids coming into the game. Hybrids might have been thought to hit a little further, maybe get out the rough a little easier... Suddenly players are filling their bags with them (think Y.E. Yang). But does that mean blades have been any less effective?


    @72 2) is correct. But it goes further than that, it's not just about longevity. Give every player the option to pick up a long ugly thing to help them putt, and it's not an individual advantage, it's a choice. A preference. Just like which wedge or which wood or even how many drivers you wanted in the bag

  • Comment number 75.

    Belly Putters aren't actually much heavier than normal putters in practice. The reason is that the lower down the handle you grip the lighter the club feels. The vast majority of players hold a belly putter where they would a normal putter thus neutralising the extra weight.

    And additional weight is no advantage to putting anyway, if it was all players both professional and amateur would be using the heaviest putter on the market, plastering lead tape all over the thing and holing putts from everywhere.

  • Comment number 76.

    Perhaps people would be less enthusiastic about using "long" putters if they were not allowed to use them for taking relief, either penalty or free.

  • Comment number 77.

    I find that belly putters are not widely available. I've been in a couple of large American Golf Discount stores recently and neither had a belly putter anywhere on the racks of putters. I think these places are missing a trick - golfers are starting to wake up to the possiblilty that these clubs could shave a couple of strokes from your score.

    However, with Big_Goog around I don't want to dwell on shaving too much.

  • Comment number 78.

    @76 Peter

    It's an unwritten rule that these clubs are not used when taking relief. That's certainly the case on the professional tours, and I'd imagine it's the same at club level (although I've never played with anyone who has one).

  • Comment number 79.

    I once seen a man hole a putt with his prosthetic leg which he had detactched from his own body! Now thats amazing.......... and probably cheating.
    Nice to see Carter conversing for once.

  • Comment number 80.

    we need to get these joke putters banned. I think if we got John Hawksworth to speak out they could be banned. He carries some serious wieght when he speaks. The powers that be listen to John Hawksworth.
    As for chin putters, they are just ridiculous as well. Adam Scott's putter is actually taller than he is! where are we going to draw the line? i dont think it will be long until players are swinging a 3 meter long club off the tee.

  • Comment number 81.

    Golf has always been a 2 point contact sport, right and left hand. Allowing the belly and broom stick into the game has changed the rules. Where will it end?
    As for using either as a measure, I do not agree, period.

  • Comment number 82.

    @80.....BiloMcT...You cannot pull me on my spelling anymore!!! - WIEGHT ?????
    And u call me the clown hahaha, I think i might have some competition for that title, from yourself haha

  • Comment number 83.

    Powerhitter

    Well yes you're right, I've probably gained 20-30 yards more myself with the new balls and clubs, so it does help a bit as I did mention, and makes the game a bit more fun I guess, but I don't think club golfers generally are overpowering golf courses. I see a lot of good young golfers who hit the ball miles but I think that's down to good technique and fitness as much as anything, and we are seeing this trend in many sports with young people.

    As far as the Pros are concerned that's a different matter, and yes I guess they all take maximum advantage of the technology available. That's probably why there are so many players on tour these days who can contend and win tournaments, including majors. It's not just the equipment that they benefit from though, it's the custom fitting, fitness levels etc that makes a real difference. Anyway, the Authorities don't really seem too bothered about all this as they have not really done much about curbing the technology. Generally speaking though I don't believe the new technology neccessarily on it's own makes anyone a better golfer and I have read that average handicaps have not come down significantly due to technology.

  • Comment number 84.

    My father has played with the same putter for 65 years, a normal 'blade' putter, however what he did around 45 years ago was built up the grip with a block of wood (he's a very handy carpenter) to fit perfectly into the palm of his left hand, then re-gripped with leather, which he's obviously replaced a few times. He's 89 now, and recently given up. The one club of his I wanted was that one, and yet its the only one he wants to keep for posterity.

  • Comment number 85.

    @84
    Interesting. But was your Dad's old blade any good? I believe they were smaller back in the day, but maybe that's just wishful thinking.

  • Comment number 86.

    Like many equipment debates in sport. There are advantages and disadvantages to both the shorter and longer putters. My dad is a good golfer playing off 4 but developed the yips over short puttrs. he bought a broom handle and now is more solid over shorter putts but struggles with disatance control over longer putts. This debate over whether these putters conform to the rules of golf is only in the media. The tour pros have accepted that they can be used and players are therefore using it to their advantage to improve their putting. So many top players use them now that to ban them would cause outrage amongst the players and the R&A and USGA will not have the courage to ban them. People need to move from this debate and accept that longer putters are a part of the modern game

  • Comment number 87.

    @85-Big_Goog - they were definitely smaller in them days, due to the size of the average gent, but now so many things are added to the equation to make them bigger and go longer?

  • Comment number 88.

    CHUMBAWUMBA12 and BiloMct neither of ye can spell and ye are both ejits!

    Now how do ya like those napples!

  • Comment number 89.

    rossji - there's not really that many 'top' players using these putters. Also, the R&A/PGA/USGA generate so much of their money from TV and sponsorship that they only really need to worry about keeping their commercial partners happy. It's harder for them to change golf balls or drivers as companies have invested fortunes into developing and selling the technology, but it would be easy for them to scrap the putters if they wanted. They won't worry about player outrage as they know the players will keep on playing for the huge prizes every week no matter what.

  • Comment number 90.

    No debate! If people wan't to use belly putters, let them. You cannot replace talent with technology. You can't buy the focus and determination of Tiger Woods; that's why he always made a putt when he needed to and hardly ever missed under pressure, not the length of his putter.

    • Jack Nicklaus, most major wins - used a conventional putter

    • Tiger Woods, second most major wins, arguably the best putter to grace the game - used a conventional putter

    • Ben Crenshaw, one of the best putters ever - used a conventional putter.

  • Comment number 91.

    james mathew... just out of interest how long is your belly putter?? in inches not millimeters to make it sound bigger.

  • Comment number 92.

    Bilo - I was getting very worried about you when I had to get down to #36 to see you enter this debate. What did you send Mr Carter for Christmas to get him to start this thread? lol
    Anyway, I played with a guy in Florida over 15 years ago who had a putter with a head so big he set it behind his ball then walked back to check it was lined up correctly. The thing stood by itself it was so big!
    I didn't think that was fair or within the spirit of the game but it didn't stop me enjoying my golf. If someone wants to use a long putter then s/he can - I've got better things to worry about.
    BTW I've just got a new R11 Rescue club which would probably have been illegal 20 years ago. Am I worried? No, because it is legal now. End of story.

  • Comment number 93.

    Thanks Sumo82. My blade is frankly massive these days, but it doesn't seem to improve my performance. And there always seems to be someone out there with a bigger or longer one. I will admit to a certain blade envy.

    Back on topic, this is such an inane argumnet I can't believe the passion it's evoked. It's not like anyone died. It's just a slightly different bit of kit for putting the ball in the hole. Anyone want wooden woods again? I don't.

  • Comment number 94.

    I was once matched against a Thai Police Colonel (read Mafia consigliere) whose driver head was nearly the size of a dustbin lid. He commented on the size of the head of my 20 year old driver and I offered that in my opinion his weapon should be banned and I considered it coming close to cheating. This was a very unwise thing to do but I got away with it without retribution. Although he was about 20 years younger than I, I enjoyed the unadulterated pleasure of consistently out driving him. In a strange contrast he used a blade putter.
    As one who has passed his three quarters of a century I suppose I'm now a sentimental old fool but I hate the way that the manufacturers now seem to decide what clubs are legal and insist that one cannot live in the past but make full use of technical advances. I'm not a natural Luddite but I prefer the game and the equipment of yesteryear. I'm all for colourful attire but Daly certainly oversteps the mark and Poulter sails too close to the wind for my tastes. On the other hand I loved Roger Davis in his plus twos and bought a pair. They were ideal on wet winter days and I never had to endure the discomfort of the bottom of my trousers being soaking wet and flapping around my calves.
    I note that many tournament pros of late cannot bother to shave in the mornings. Does anybody else think that is disrespectful of the spectators and does nothing for the promotion of the game or as a spectacle? What next? Tournament pros with arms covered with unsightly tattoos?

  • Comment number 95.

    Well I bought a 48" but I extended the shaft so its now a good 2000mm!
    But I think they should max the lenght at 3000mm!

  • Comment number 96.

    I'd like to hear Mattefc views on this matter in one of his legendary midnight posts.

  • Comment number 97.

    Cabrera was using a longer than conventional putter - it was belly putter-length - but was not anchoring it against his belly. Cabrera's hands were his only points of contact with that putter (I copied this from whatever website came up with it on google btw).

    It's this anchor that seems to be the crux of the argument about belly or broomhandle putters. Whether it's an advantage or not is the debate, for some it appears to be for others not. I think it would be a very odd feeling to use one, but I guess I could practice with it. The whole game felt fairly odd when I started, and on occasion still does.

  • Comment number 98.

    There is no doubt the broomhandle putter is an artificial aid that hugely benefits those with the yips. The belly putter much less so. I am a long term sufferer and saw my handicap trickle up to 8 due to the yips (40 shots then 40 putts is a demoralising experience). The broomhandle renewed by confidence and I got down in 5 years to a 1 handicap. I still can't putt with a normal length putter!
    But should they be banned? From the pro game, I would say, probably, yes. In contrast to a host of other technical innovations fixing the anchor point really is changing the game. Mind you, I will never stop using it even if you make it against the law of the land!!
    I have NEVER ever used it to measure a drop. I heard that Anders Hansen once borrowed another player's broomhandle to measure his drop!! Now that really is out of order.

  • Comment number 99.

    Extended putters should not be allowed to be anchored to the body, whether in mid-rift, chin or wherever. Furthermore I hope that it is not the longest club in the bag, as this could then be used to gain extra relief for fee or penalty drops. End of story.

  • Comment number 100.

    sumo....i hope that is a compliment bro (lol), unfortunatley i cannot get on in the afternoon as much as i would like (draconian firm that i give up 45 hours a week for will not allow you to!). Sumo, my honest opinion is that personally i cannot stand them. No doubt they are hear to stay and will probably become more popular than they are now, but when i watch golfers using them it just doesnt seem to fit. But then again you could argue, like other people have, about drivers, balls etc. I have used the same putter for 10 years and it still puts it the in the bucket!!!.............bilo..dude, you said you was not mentioning that certain person again???? amnesia!!!

 

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