In Defense of Belly Putters
Since Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship last fall using a belly putter (becoming the first to win a major using a longer-than-standard putter) there has been talk about whether these types of putters should be banned.
The argument in favor of banning the belly putters is that they create an unfair advantage because they are anchored to the body. Belly putters have hardly gained widespread acceptance, so the advantages are less apparent to the majority of golfers than other technology or instruction advances. When metal woods began to appear, the advantages were obvious and within a couple years the vast majority of players had made the switch. Same story with the switch to titanium from steel in woods.
Personally I would be disappointed if the USGA or R&A bans these putters, becuase it will stifle creativity and innovation going forward. I've never used a belly putter, but if they can help your game I see nothing wrong with them. Initially, the rules regarding clubs and club desgn were intentionally general and vague in nature to encourage creativity. The rules are getting more and more complicated and arbitrary and the last thing anyone wants is different set of rules for every club in the bag. Every stroke counts the same, whether it's a 6 inch putt or a 300 yard drive. So to say "X club can only be 37 inches or shorter because you use it for one type of shot, but Y club can be unlimited in length becuase you use it for a different type of shot" seems absurd to me.
When I look at how people putt, there are unlimited numbers of styles, stances, grips, equipment, etc. Why discourage creativity?
Let me know your thoughts. Post your comments at www.facebook.com/fixyourgame.
Brant Kasbohm, PGA
Director of Instruction