While belly putters and long putters have been around for decades, it seems there are an increased number of tour players who are converting to them leading to several heated debates on their legality. As a teacher and club professional, I have been approached by dozens of amateurs with questions concerning anchored putters. I am guessing that most of you have either experimented with or are considering trying an anchored putter so I hope this column will answer some questions that you may be having.
Letâ??s first talk about the anchored putter as it pertains to the rules of golf. As of now, you are allowed to anchor a putter to your body. It is my belief this rule is likely not to change in the near future mainly because there are too many people using the anchored putter worldwide. I believe they should have been banned twenty years ago when only a few people were experimenting with them. That being said, the USGA did recently change the groove rule which affected EVERY player on tour, and in the future, every golfer who wishes to compete in tournament play. So banning the anchored putter is not completely out of the question.
I feel the anchored putter should be banned on the professional level. By anchoring the grip to any part of your body, you eliminate one of the main variables in the putting stroke by creating a definite fulcrum on which to swing the club. This, in turn, minimizes the role the hands take in the putting stroke and forces you to use your shoulders, which is a much more consistent way to putt. However, if an amateur switching to an anchored putter allows them to play at a higher level and maintains their interest in the game, I am all for it.
If you are considering making a switch to an anchored putter, which one is right for you? What length putter should you putt with? What style head should you putt with? These are questions that I hear almost daily. Letâ??s begin with the belly putter vs. the long putter. While the belly putter is definitely more popular, I hope that you at least give the long putter consideration before making your decision. I feel the greatest advantage to the long putter is it puts your right hand (for right handed golfers) in a natural position to make the stroke. To calculate speed when I am putting, I try to feel like my right hand is rolling the ball to the hole. With the long putter, you can definitely get this feeling easier since you only have one hand on the lower part of the grip. (Your left hand is anchoring the top of the putter to your upper body.) Thus, I feel you will have slightly better speed control with a long putter.
To find the correct length for a long putter, it is best to experiment. However, when I fit someone for a long putter there are a few key positions I look for. First, the putter should be at a length that you can still bend at the waist and position your eyes over the ball comfortably. Also, your right hand should be positioned directly under your shoulders. These are natural positions that will help create the most consistent putting stroke.
If you are leaning towards a belly putter, here are a few notes that I find consistent with almost anybody who has tried one:
â?¢ Putts from 10 ft. and in are almost automatic!
â?¢ Shoulders dominate the putting stroke.
â?¢ Lag putting becomes more difficult.
â?¢ It takes considerable practice to get comfortable with the belly putter.
â?¢ Practicing with a belly putter and switching back to a short putter is usually very successful.
The easiest way to find the proper belly putter length for you is with your current putter, a yardstick, and a mirror. First, set up with your current putter so your eyes are either directly over the ball or slightly inside the ball with your hands hanging directly beneath your shoulders. Next, take the yard stick and hold it on the same angle as your putter shaft. Simply slide the yard stick up the putter shaft until it sits in your belly where it would be anchored. Take your putter length and add the number of inches necessary to anchor the putter into your belly to find the correct belly putter length for you.
As far as head style, this is mainly personal preference. While most anchored putters you find will have a mallet head that is face balanced, there are a few that have a traditional blade style head. I feel it is most important for you to putt with a putter you like the look and feel of. Experimentation is highly recommended!
Anchored putters, if nothing else, are a great practice tool to help teach you how to make the proper putting stroke. By creating a definitive fulcrum, anchored putters force you to use your shoulders and help to eliminate any unnecessary hand action in the putting stroke. If you are considering making the switch, I strongly urge you to get fit by a PGA Professional to help ensure you get the right putter the first time. It also wouldnâ??t hurt to take a lesson when you first begin putting with an anchored putter so you learn the proper way to putt with it. Good luck on the greens!
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By Colby Wolitz
Colby Wolitz is a PGA-Certified teaching pro at Hunting Creek Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky.