by Jeff Skinner
The long putter controversy has reached critical mass. It’s time the powers that be take some action. Yesterday’s final hole at the World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational served as a perfect example of the argument at hand.
Does anchoring the putter to your body give a golfer any advantage? From my point of view two putts on the final hole yesterday illustrated the issue completely.
Eventual winner Keegan Bradley needed a fifteen foot putt for par for what he thought would be a playoff as Jim Furyk was only five feet from the hole. Bradley stepped up to his ball, stuck that belly putter in his gut and as he has done time and time again rolled it in dead center.
Furyk then stepped up to his and pushed his putt to the right and lost a tournament he seemed sure to win. Now, Jim Furyk has a rep as a very good putter but with the pressure of the moment he failed to convert a nerve racking short putt.
And to many that is the center of the anchored putter argument: the ability to use your body to stop any unwanted movement in your hands, in other words, to stop your hands from shaking.
Nerves, pressure, anxiety whatever it is labeled, the fact is that being able to perform under pressure and control those unwanted movements is an integral part of the game. Those uncontrollable hands have been plaguing golfers from Harry Vardon to Ben Hogan to Sergio Garcia and everyone in between. But with an anchored putter that problem is solved.
Players that use regulation putters have to have the ability to quiet their hands without the aid of their stationary body. Belly putters need not worry about that as they stop all unwanted vibration as soon as that putter hits their gut.
Anyone who tries a belly putter can see that it does indeed quiet the hands. It still takes skill to sink putts but the nerves that surround every golfer are put to rest with the anchoring.
With the increased frequency of belly putters racking up wins (Bradley, Els, Simpson) the USGA and the R&A need to step up and make a statement. Either say they have no intention of governing the anchoring issue or ban it outright, and soon. The belly putters are taking over and giving an advantage to those that choose to go long.
Like Ernie Els, I think they need to ban the bellies but I am constantly fighting the urge to put one in play as Ernie has. From my point of view golf isn’t just a physical game, it’s emotional and mental also. Golfers need to control all three aspects and the belly putter gives an advantage that takes away from the game.