by Jeff Skinner
So much for the belly putter being the cure all for a golfer’s putting woes. The recent trend of professionals wielding long putters has started a call by many to ban them and even nudged the governing bodies of golf to reexamine the situation.
Even though Ernie Els thinks they should be banned he has used the belly in an effort to regain his putting stroke. Unfortunately for Ernie his putting is exactly what has stopped him from making his twentieth trip back to Augusta this year. Maybe Ernie should switch back to his old putter and give that a try. At this point it couldn’t hurt.
That’s just what Michelle Wie is doing this week. After a failed experiment with a belly putter Wie is going back to her treasured short blade that she used when she was a teen phenom at 15. Wie has used her belly putter since last summer with poor results.
Last season Wie finished 115th in Putting Average with 30.6 putts per round. The leaders in Putting Average used around 26-27 putts per round. No golfer can afford to give away three to four putts per round and expect to compete for championships.
Wie has been coached by David Leadbetter ever since she was a teenage prodigy and he approves of the move saying, “It will help her get more natural again with her putting. She was a very good putter when she was young, but she became more mechanical.”
That sounds like good advice as every putting coach advocates being relaxed with the putter. How many times have we heard “putt like you were when you were a kid” from the putting gurus? I find it odd coming from Leadbetter who has a reputation for being the most technical and mechanical instructor on tour. Wie’s putting stroke has become nothing but mechanical and she obviously has no “feel” with the belly putter.
Wie is looking forward to regaining a more natural stroke and hopes that will enable her to compete for more victories on the LPGA. Having finished her college career at Stanford she is ready for a full time commitment to golf. “I want to win more. That’s a big thing. I feel like it’s been pretty mediocre so far. I want to be the best player I can be. It’s going to be a fun ride from here on out, entering the real world. I’m really excited.”
If the switch back to a regular putter can cut down her strokes on the green Wie can be a significant force on the LPGA Tour.