Should The PGA Ban The Belly Putter?
There is a hotly contested debate going on right now within the golf world on the controversial belly putter and does it afford a player a competitive advantage. For my money I say it does. Why young golfers like the Adam Scott's and Webb Simpson's need or use a belly putter is beyond me.
The belly putter was put into play several years back and it's intent was to aid golfers who have a bad back. It has been abused at this point, just as any 'special" rule would be and usually is.
The actual debate is going on between the USGA and the R&A which is the official governing body and rules makers for the game of golf.
The debate centers around does the belly putter give a player an advantage is "anchoring" the putter against your body.
The stats make a case both ways. 3 of the last 4 majors winners used the belly putter, but in a glaring stat kept by the USGA and others, a stat called " Strokes gained putting" those that used the long putter didn't see a distinct advantage. Webb Simpson in particular is speaking on behalf of the belly putter saying " The strokes gained putting nobody in the top 20 used the long putter, if anybody says it is an advantage, I think you have to look at the stats and the facts".
My simple question would be if it isn't an advantage why are you using it? A logical answer would be cause the golfer feels more comfortable. That's fine but I am sure a golfer would feel " More comfortable" in a cart rather then walk but they don't allow that.
Here are further stats that show the controversial putter doesn't help that much. No player in the top 10 on the PGA tour and just 3 in the top 20 in strokes gained putting category use the belly putter.
Let me be clear, the long putter isn't as a distinct advantage as let's say doing steroids was to baseball or stick em was in football but there is no denying that when anchored against your body it does stabilize the putter a bit with less a chance of shake or nerves in the stroke or so it would appear.
On the other side of the argument against using the long putter is PGA pro Graeme McDowell. His comment about the putter is this " When you can anchor the putter to part of your body that just takes 1 extraneous movement out of the putting stroke, that putting under pressure with that type of putter makes it easier. It's just kind of a physical fact that if you can just take one element of movement and motion out of the stroke that holing putts will become easier". This is the side of the argument I am on.
Ernie Els the recent winner of the British Open had a very interesting line about the long putter, which he used to win the Open and has used for the past year or so. Els who is against the use of the controversial putter but yet uses 1 said " As long as it is legal I will keep cheating like the rest of them". Now that is a great line by a great golfer.
A decision on the use of the belly putter is expected by the end of the year!