The Great Belly Putter Debate

olfers from all walks of life have always looked for an advantage on the putting surface. Back in the 80′s, long putters started showing up in competition around the world, but didn’t make their way on to the Professional level until they were legalized in 1987. Every since, there has been a debate about their fairness.

Traditionalists say the long putter gives the golfer an advantage by providing a third point of contact with the body, anchoring  the putter to the body during pressure situations. The nemesis that it is designed to combat, is the problem of the left wrist(for a right handed golfer) breaking down during the stroke, or the forearms rolling over at impact. These problems show up more as  players start to get longer in the tooth, so some of the older players are starting to migrate to the long putters.

Take Phil Mickelson for instance. Phil was at one time, one of the best putters on the planet, but of late has been struggling on short puts during the heat of competition. Mickelson, after trying the claw method late in the season, has been test driving a Belly Putter. He says that he has improved from the five foot range, and if he can find some consistency at 15 feet, he may be interested in trying it in some tournaments.

Seven PGA events have been won using the long putter, and only one major, that being the 2011 PGA Championnship by Keegan Bradley. A most notable improvement in the recent past has been Adam Scott.

Any change in the further longevity of the long putters will come when the R&A, and USGA have their off season meetings. After looking at the statistics, it doesn’t appear that the club is providing an un-fair advantage. If it were, after being legal for 25 years, you would think they would have shown up in more Winner Circles.