Well, it looks like we have the PGA Tour’s first defector from the use of the belly putter. Ernie Els has told the Irish Times that he will retire his anchored putter at the conclusion of The Masters next week. He plans to be fully detoxed from the anchored putter by the time the U.S. Open gets underway at Merion Golf Club in June.
He has been tinkering and experimenting with a “conventional” putter for a little while now, having used a short stick for the first three rounds at the Chiangmai Golf Classic in Thailand last week. “I just wanted to play (with the belly putter) since it was my last competitive round before the Masters,” Els said when asked why he used the belly putter for his final round last week.
By now, the controversy over the use of anchored putters is well known. Conspiracy theorists will say that the recent rash of major championships won by golfers using anchored putters is a major part of what is leading to its demise. Els won the British Open last year while using the longer putter. I would argue that Adam Scott lost that event as much as Els won it, however.
“Mentally, I was going to do the long putter at the Masters. I wanted to feel what it is like under a little bit of pressure,” he said when asked about the timing of the switch. This is undoubtedly going to be a significant change for Els, and I can certainly understand his choice in timing. He wants to be able to rely on the comfort of the belly putter at Augusta National while still giving himself ample time to get used to a shorter, unanchored putter so that he is comfortable with it for the U.S. Open. I’m just not convinced that two months is enough time for that to happen.