Over the past few months there has been much debate about long putters, specifically the anchoring of belly putters. On November 28, 2012 the USGA and the R&A proposed a change in the rules disallowing any stroke in which the putter would be anchored to the body not allowing the putter to swing freely. This proposed rule change has fueled heated reactions by some tour players as well as the general public. In my opinion, I feel both sides have valid arguments, but only time will tell what the final decision will be by both governing bodies of the rules of golf.
Here are both sides of the argument: On one hand, many traditionalists feel that using a longer putter makes putting easier and that using an anchored putter takes the skill out of the game. They feel that anchoring a putter is an unfair advantage especially on Sunday when the tournament is on the line and the hands tend to get a little twitchy.
On the other hand long putters began showing up on the PGA tour as early as the 80’s , in 1991 Rocco Mediate was the first to win on the PGA tour using a long putter, while Paul Azinger was the first to win with a belly putter in 2000. So in short, the long and belly putters have been allowed for thirty years, some players have used a long putter their whole careers how could it be fair to make them change the way that they have been earning a living? And why are they being scrutinized now? Easy: three of the last five majors have been won by someone using a longer putter, also belly and long putters have been showing up more frequently on tour, in some events over 25% of the field was using either a belly or long putter. This fact is what has forced the USGA and R&A to put their foot down. Things aren’t settled though, both sides have solid points and the debate will continue until 2016, which would be the first year that the rule change could take effect.
So what does this mean for you and your belly or long putter? Don’t think you will have to scrap the $200 belly putter you just bought, remember that it is only the anchoring that will be possibly made illegal. Both belly and long putters can be used without anchoring, here are some legal grip options:
This is a method adopted my Matt Kuchar around the beginning of the 2012 season. He tilts a belly putter forward so the grip rests against his forearm which is legal.
The unanchored belly:
You can always take a normal stroke with an “Un-anchored Belly Putter” Many people like the feel of this as the added weight of the shaft and grip above your grip provide a stable feeling.
The unanchored long putter:
Another option is to use a long putter and take a pendulum stroke – the key is that the top elbow cannot be anchored against the body. This is a stroke that Bernhard Longer pioneered.