The PGA Bans Belly Putters

The time has finally come when the PGA (Professional Golf Association) has banned the anchoring of putters and all belly putters. For those of you non-golf fans, anchor and belly putters are long putters that golfers press against their stomach and chest to create a pendulum motion.

Adam Scott, one of the PGA’s best, uses a belly putter.

Many look at long putters as an unfair advantage, as it takes the nerves out of the putting stroke. Belly putters ensure that golfers won’t pull as many putts and hit them by the hole when they are nervous. The rule will be put in effect on January 1, 2016, since the PGA is under a four-year cycle for amending the rules.

The belly putter first became popular on the Champions Tour (for senior professionals) in the 1980s when older golfers were losing their accuracy and distance on putts. Rocco Mediate in 1991 became the first golfer to win a PGA tournament using a long putter. The Massachusetts native, Keegan Bradley became the first to win a major while using the belly putter in 2011.

Once pro-golfers began winning with long putters they became a craze. It is not uncommon to see recreational golfers, Division I golfers, and even junior golfers to be seen on the green with a belly putter. The rise of the belly putter has led to the decision to ban it in order to protect the traditional putting stroke that has been used by players all the way from Ben Hogan to Tiger Woods.

So, what is next for the dozens of professional golfers who use the long putter? Three of the past five major champions, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, and Ernie Els, used long putters in their victories. The players can still technically use the putters until 2016, but they will eventually have to get used to a conventional putter.

Overall, the rule change is a good one. A large part of the game involves nerves and to take nerves out of the game would not be in the interests of the traditions and challenges of golf. As the great Lee Trevino once said, “You don’t know what nerves are until you play for five bucks with only two bucks in your pocket.” Trevino and golfers everywhere must be happy that nerves will return to golf and make one of the hardest sports even harder.

Ben Decatur, Sports Editor

Posted by on January 10, 2013. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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