Imagine standing on the lush green fairway, gazing at the distant flag. As avid golfers, we are always on the lookout for ways to improve our game, and that’s where the belly putter comes in. This intriguing golfing accessory has been making waves in the golfing community, but what exactly is a belly putter? In simple terms, it is a putter that is longer than the conventional ones, designed to be anchored against your body. Interested to know more? Let’s explore the fascinating world of belly putters and how they can revolutionize your putting technique.
What is a belly putter?
A belly putter is a type of golf club specifically designed for putting, which is the action of striking the golf ball with a gentle, controlled stroke to direct it into the hole. Unlike traditional putters, a belly putter is longer and is typically anchored against the body during the putting motion. This unique design aims to provide stability and promote a more consistent and reliable putting technique.
Length and Design
The defining feature of a belly putter is its extended length compared to standard putters. While traditional putters measure around 33-35 inches, a belly putter typically ranges from 38 to 46 inches in length. This extra length allows the player to rest the grip against their abdomen or belly, hence the name “belly putter.”
In terms of design, belly putters often incorporate a thick, oversized grip to enhance stability and control during the putting stroke. The grip’s shape is crucial to the success of the belly putter, as it affects the player’s ability to anchor the club against their body effectively.
The grip style used with a belly putter can vary among players, but two common methods are the traditional grip and the claw grip. The traditional grip involves placing both hands together on the grip, with all fingers in contact with one another. In contrast, the claw grip entails gripping the putter with the lead hand in a normal position and the trail hand in a claw-like position, with the fingers gripping the club in a more unique manner. Both grip styles are effective with the belly putter, and players can choose the one that feels most comfortable to them.
The concept of utilizing a longer putter as an aid for stability and consistency can be traced back to the 1960s. However, it was not until the 1980s that the belly putter gained more attention and recognition in the golfing world. Sam Snead, a professional golfer, experimented with different putting techniques and variations, including grip styles and longer putters. Snead’s willingness to think outside the box and try new approaches influenced the development of the belly putter.
The popularity of the belly putter soared in the early 2000s when professional golfer Vijay Singh achieved great success using the anchored, belly-anchored putting method. Singh’s use of the belly putter brought the technique into the spotlight, capturing the attention of both professional and amateur golfers around the world. As a result, the belly putter became a hot topic of discussion and sparked a widespread adoption of the technique among golfers of different skill levels.
The Putting Basics
Grip plays a pivotal role in a golfer’s putting technique, regardless of the type of putter they use. With a belly putter, the grip style is especially important as it impacts how the putter is anchored against the body for stability. Golfers must experiment and find the grip that provides them the most comfort, control, and consistency.
Proper alignment is a key factor in successful putting. When using a belly putter, golfers need to ensure that their body and club face are aligned perpendicularly to their target line. This alignment allows for a straight and accurate putting stroke and reduces the chances of missing the intended target.
The putting stroke is the movement used to strike the golf ball and direct it towards the hole. With a belly putter, the stroke is typically less reliant on the hands and wrists and more focused on the larger muscles of the shoulders and torso. This technique promotes a smoother, more stable stroke, which can lead to improved accuracy and distance control.
Pros and Cons
One of the primary advantages of using a belly putter is the added stability it offers. By anchoring the club against the body, golfers can minimize the potential for unwanted movement during the putting stroke, resulting in improved consistency and control. The longer length of the belly putter also allows for a more upright and relaxed posture, reducing strain and providing a more comfortable putting experience.
Additionally, many golfers find that using a belly putter helps to reduce the yips, a term used to describe involuntary hand tremors or jerky movements that can affect putting consistency. The anchored nature of the belly putter can provide a calming effect, allowing golfers to maintain control over their stroke.
While the belly putter has its advantages, there are also some drawbacks to consider. One common concern is the potential loss of touch and feel compared to using a traditional putter. The longer length and anchored grip may make it more challenging to gauge the subtle nuances of the greens, which can be crucial for reading breaks and adjusting the putting line.
Another disadvantage is the perception of unfair advantage. Some traditionalists argue that using a belly putter provides an unnatural advantage and diminishes the skill required for putting. This contention led to discussions among golf’s governing bodies regarding the legality of the belly putter, as we will explore in the next section.
Rules and Regulations
The United States Golf Association (USGA) has established guidelines to govern the use of belly putters. According to their rules, the putter’s grip must remain in contact with the player’s body to be deemed legal. Any method that allows the putter to touch a part of the body other than the hands or forearms, such as the chest or stomach, would be considered anchoring and violate the rules.
The R&A, the governing body for golf outside the United States and Mexico, has similar regulations to the USGA regarding belly putters. The key criterion is that the club must not be intentionally anchored to any part of the golfer’s body beyond the hands and forearms. These regulations aim to ensure fair competition and prevent the use of equipment that may provide an undue advantage.
Different Types of Belly Putters
Anchored Belly Putter
An anchored belly putter refers to a style of putting where the golfer intentionally anchors the grip against a fixed point on their body, such as the belly or chest. This technique aims to promote stability and restrict unwanted hand movement during the stroke. Anchored belly putters were particularly popular among professional golfers before rules and regulations limited their usage.
Non-Anchored Belly Putter
A non-anchored belly putter, also known as a “long” putter, is a variation where the golfer does not anchor the grip against their body. Instead, the longer length of the putter is used to create stability and aid in a smooth and consistent putting stroke. This style of belly putter grazingly rests against the abdomen without being anchored, relying on the golfer’s coordination and control rather than physical contact with the body.
Effectiveness and Controversy
Claims by Users
Players who have transitioned to using a belly putter often report improved consistency, stability, and confidence in their putting performance. The anchored grip allows for a smoother stroke and reduces the tendency for the putter face to twist or rotate during impact. Golfers who struggled with the yips or traditional putting techniques have found relief and regained their enjoyment of the game through the use of a belly putter.
Critics and Opposition
Despite the positive testimonials from many golfers, belly putters have faced criticism and opposition. Some argue that the anchored putting method creates an artificial advantage, undermining the skill and challenge of the game. Detractors believe that putting should rely on delicate touch and feel rather than mechanical stability, and that belly putters disrupt the purity of the sport.
The controversy surrounding belly putters prompted the USGA and R&A to review the rules governing their usage, leading to potential changes in the future.
Switching to the Belly Putter
If you’re considering switching to a belly putter, there are a few key steps to take. First, it’s essential to visit a professional club fitter who can assess your putting technique and recommend the most suitable belly putter for your game. They can help ensure the putter’s length, grip size, and design align with your physique and putting style.
A professional club fitter will also guide you in finding the most comfortable and effective grip style for your belly putter. Whether you opt for the traditional grip or the claw grip, practice and experimentation will be crucial to fine-tune your technique and build confidence.
Switching to a belly putter may require an adjustment period as you adapt to the different feel and mechanics compared to a standard putter. It’s important to approach the transition with patience and persistence. Regular practice sessions on the putting green will allow you to develop muscle memory and become accustomed to the longer length and anchored grip. With time and commitment, you can master the belly putter technique and harness its potential benefits.
The Future of Belly Putters
Potential Rule Changes
Given the ongoing debate surrounding belly putters, it’s possible that golf’s governing bodies may introduce further rule changes. The USGA and R&A may reassess the regulations to find a balance between allowing the use of belly putters while maintaining fair competition and the traditional integrity of the game. It is unclear what course will be taken, but potential revisions could include stricter anchoring restrictions or a complete ban on belly putters.
Gaining and Losing Popularity
The popularity of belly putters has ebbed and flowed over the years. While they experienced a surge in usage and adoption, particularly following Vijay Singh’s success, the subsequent rule changes limiting anchoring reduced their prevalence. However, golf equipment manufacturers continue to refine and innovate belly putter designs, ensuring they remain an option for players seeking putting stability. As the future unfolds, the popularity of belly putters may once again fluctuate depending on the evolution of rules, player preferences, and new technologies.
In conclusion, a belly putter is a specialized golf club designed to aid the putting stroke by providing stability and consistency. With their extended length, anchored grip, and unique techniques, belly putters offer golfers an alternative approach to putting. While they have their advantages and disadvantages, the use of belly putters remains a personal choice, subject to rules and regulations set forth by golf’s governing bodies. Whether belly putters continue to be a popular choice or undergo further changes, the important factor is finding the putter style and technique that best suits the individual golfer’s preferences and helps them excel on the greens.