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USGA Ponders Rule Change on Belly Putters

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The use of anchored putters, commonly called “belly putters,” has become an increasingly hot topic of discussion on the PGA Tour. The anchored putter, for those unfamiliar, is a long putter designed to anchor the handle end up against one’s chest or stomach, thus creating a more stable putting stroke. It’s untraditional, but is the advantage unfair? Strong feelings on the matter exist on each side of the debate.

The United States Golf Association has decided to take a stance.

“We’re seeing now people who can putt perfectly well in the conventional way thinking that an anchored stroke gives them an advantage,” said Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, the rules-making body outside of the United States and Mexico, earlier this year at the Open Championship. “I think that’s the fundamental change that we’ve witnessed in the last couple of years.”

Dawson, along with his counterpart at the U.S. Golf Association — executive director Mike Davis — has said golf’s rules-making bodies need to “clarify” their position on the matter “as soon as possible.”

The USGA is “not considering a ban of the putters; they are studying a change that would ban anchoring those putters to your body. Dawson said that means it would be a rules issue, not an equipment issue, and therefore would not be enacted immediately, as the game uses a four-year rules-changing cycle.”

The ban would go into effect in 2016, allowing professional golfers ample time to adjust.

Brandt Snedeker and my man Paul Azinger are particularly outspoken on the matter, and they take up opposing viewpoints.

Snedeker on belly putters:

“I think it’s the influx of junior golfers using belly putters,” Snedeker said in the Golf Channel interview. “There’s a whole generation of kids right now that are growing up playing golf, never using a short putter. Is that keeping with the traditions of the game?”

Azinger on belly putters:

“For 11 years, everyone said nobody can win a major with a belly putter; Keegan does it, Phil [Mickelson] tries it, and now they want it banned?” Azinger said. “I’ll say this, the Great Big Bertha [one of the first medal drivers made by Callaway] made wooden drivers look like a 4-wood. Now the Great Big Bertha looks like a 4-wood.

“Everyone hits today’s drivers farther; not everyone will putt better with a belly putter or, like the drivers, everyone would use it.”

“It’s OK for manufacturers to seek game-improvement clubs, but if a player figures something out, it’s banned?” Azinger said. “Even though it only improves some players?”

Where do you come out?

[H/T to NativeFloridaCracker]


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Dillon Cheverere

Dillon Cheverere (@DCheverere) is the Vice President of Media for Grandex, Inc. Email:

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