Category: Belly Putters

May 17, 2013

USGA to announce anchored putter decision on Tuesday

Posted at 9:55 AM by Mike Walker

Bradley_long_300Anchored putters, your time may be up.

The USGA will announce its final decision on whether to ban anchored putting -- in other words, belly putter and long putters that are "anchored" against the body -- at a news conference Tuesday at USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J. The 8 a.m. press conference will be broadcast live on Golf Channel. The USGA will also provide a live webcast of the press conference here.

In November, the USGA and the R&A proposed a rule change to ban anchored putting strokes after three of the previous five major champions used either belly putters or long putters, including Keegan Bradley [right] at the 2011 PGA Championship. After the USGA and R&A proposed to ban anchored putting, Adam Scott won the Masters with a long putter in April. (The R&A -- the Royal & Ancient Golf Club -- administers the game outside the United States and Mexico.)

The proposed rule change has been controversial; the PGA Tour and the PGA of America have both told the USGA that they are against the proposed change. However, the European Tour, the LPGA and several prominent former and current players -- including Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer -- support the ban.

In a written statement in November, the USGA executive Mike Davis said that anchored putting is at odds with the essence of the game:  “Throughout the 600-year history of golf, the essence of playing the game has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “The player’s challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge. Our conclusion is that the Rules of Golf should be amended to preserve the traditional character of the golf swing by eliminating the growing practice of anchoring the club.”

Supports of anchored putting have argued that the rule change is not fair to players who use anchoring, which has been legal for 30 years, that the ban would limit the enjoyment of recreational players, and that anchored putting is not an advantage.

USGA do not appear to have changed their mind. In an interview in the June issue of Golf Magazine, Davis defended the proposed rule change.

"We weren't trying to hurt anybody," Davis said. "It's a divisive issue and it's been divisive ever since the long putter has been around. We're simply trying to clarify it and put it to bed."

If the USGA and R&A adopt the rule change, then it would most likely take effect in the next scheduled rules update: Jan 1. 2016. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has declined to say whether the PGA Tour would go along with the USGA and ban anchored putting on the PGA Tour.

Photo of Keegan Bradley at the 2013 Byron Nelson Championship (Getty Images).

December 02, 2012

Keegan Bradley heckled for using belly putter, USGA responds

Posted at 1:50 PM by

P1-Keegan2-Stephen-DunnKeegan Bradley, who anchors his putter to his stomach, a technique that will be banned by pro golf's governing bodies beginning in 2016, was  heckled by a fan during the third round of Tiger Woods's World Challenge in California.

Bradley said on Saturday that a spectator called him a "cheater" on the last hole of his round. Bradley said it was the first time he'd ever been heckled, and he said he didn't respond to the fan.

"It's very disrespectful, but it's fine with me," he said. "I've got to try to look at it as motivation to help me try to win this tournament."

[RELATED: Confidential: What should Bradley, PGA Tour do to solve heckling problem?]

Bradley also said he'd "heard way more positives than negatives," and the USGA came to his defense on Sunday, issuing a statement.

"This is a deplorable incident, and there is no place in our game for this kind of behavior," the USGA's statement said. "As we noted when announcing proposed Rule 14-1b, it has been and remains entirely within the Rules of Golf for players to anchor the club while making a stroke. There should not be a shred of criticism of such players or any qualification or doubt about their achievements, and we think that it is inappropriate even to suggest anything to the contrary."

[RELATED PHOTOS: Pros affected by new rule | The long putter’s rise to controversy]

The complete statement from the USGA is below.

Far Hills, N.J. (December 2, 2012) - The United States Golf Association (USGA) today issued the following statement regarding yesterday's incident at the World Challenge in which a spectator called Keegan Bradley's use of an anchored stroke as "cheating." The incident follows the Nov. 28 announcement by the USGA and The R&A proposing changes to the Rules of Golf that would prohibit anchoring the club in making a stroke. The proposed Rule change would take effect on January 1, 2016, in accordance with the regular four-year cycle for changes to the Rules of Golf.

"This is a deplorable incident, and there is no place in our game for this kind of behavior. As we noted when announcing proposed Rule 14-1b, it has been and remains entirely within the Rules of Golf for players to anchor the club while making a stroke. There should not be a shred of criticism of such players or any qualification or doubt about their achievements, and we think that it is inappropriate even to suggest anything to the contrary. Rule changes address the future and not the past. Up until now and until such time as a Rule change were to be implemented, golfers using an anchored stroke will have been playing by the Rules of Golf."

"We are sorry that Keegan had to experience this unfounded criticism from an obviously uneducated spectator. Instead, Keegan and other PGA Tour professionals should be commended for their maturity and grace in managing through a proposed change to the Rules of Golf."

"While we understand that the proposed Rules change would cause some short-term angst, we believe the new Rule would serve the long-term best interest of the game."

(Photo: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

November 30, 2012

VIDEO: 'The Golf Nerds' on the USGA's ban on anchored putting

Posted at 1:57 PM by Alan Bastable

Welcome to "The Golf Nerds," a video series created by Golf Magazine senior editor Alan Bastable at Leave suggestions for future videos in the comments field below.

The Golf Nerds: Episode 1 ("The Belly Ban")
by: abastable

November 29, 2012

Pros competing at Q school sound off on belly ban

Posted at 2:51 PM by


SI Golf+ Contributor Stephanie Wei polled several players competing at Q school to get their thoughts on the USGA's decision to ban the anchored putting stroke. Here are the results:

I'm in favor of the anchoring ban and the new rule the USGA proposed: 26 (63.4%)
I'm against the anchoring ban: 10 (24.3%)
I really don't care either way: 5 (12%)


Camilo Villegas: "I've used the belly before. I like it. I've been back to the short one, and there's a reason why. You don't make everything with the belly. If that was the case we would all be using bellies or anchoring putters. There's guys that like it, guys that dislike it. I have no opinion. To be honest, I don't know and I don't care enough."

Alex Noren: "If they want to use it, I think it's fine. I'm not using it, but at the same time, I mean, you've got to read the putts, you've got to hit it the right speed, and it's not just about the putter. It's like if I putt better with it, I would use it, but I don't think I do."

Franklin Corpening: "I was against the anchoring ban until this morning when I heard what Tiger was saying on ESPN, and he made some good points. I can't remember the exact wording, but he said something like, putting is an art and the stroke should be a swinging motion with your arms without anchoring the club to a fixed point. I agree with that even though I use a belly putter. When I got to the course this morning, I was like, 'Do people think I'm cheating?'"

Kris Blanks: "I think it's ridiculous. Unfortunately the governing bodies are going to do what they feel is best for the game. It's like a road; you might think the speed limit should be 65, but somebody is going to say it needs to be 45, and we just have to abide by those laws."

Morgan Hoffmann: "[Anchoring] is obviously some kind of an advantage because everybody is switching to it. I think it should be better for the game."

Ross Fisher: "I plainly think it's cheating. I don't think you should be able to anchor the club. Whether that's right or wrong, everyone has got their own opinions, but it kind of takes the feel out of the game.

"I think I remember listening to [Padraig] Harrington at the World Golf Grand Slam, and he said, 'If something doesn't happen, it's almost going to be like the long putter is going to be the putter of choice when kids are growing up.'"

Steve Flesch: "Being a benefactor of anchoring and winning three of my four events with a belly putter, you would think I would be against the change, but I don't really care if they change it. I'm kind of on both sides. I understand it. I'm not against it, I'm not for it. I don't really have an opinion because I understand both sides.

"I would vote probably against the ban, only because I have friends at home and I've seen them putt with a short putter, and they are miserable playing. Golf isn't as fun for them because they can't stroke a four-foot putt. The putter might as well be kryptonite in their hands.

"It will be hard to fight the nerves again for the pros who use the belly putter or long putter. There's a reason they're using those putters. I'm a case in point. I only go to it because I'm shaking like a leaf with the short putter. People don't just say, 'I'm going to putt like that.' There's a reason you're there."

Arjun Atwal: "I like it. I don't putt with a belly putter, and I think from what people have told me it's unfair. I can't putt with it anyways, so I don't know how it's unfair, but people think that anchoring is taking the nerves out of play when you putt.

"I suck when I try putting with the belly or long putter, Like, I really, really suck at it. People do have nerves, and it takes that out. If that happens then I don't think it's fair, so yeah, get rid of it."

Peter Tomasulo: "I'm for banning anchoring mostly because it's under the threat of becoming the norm with instructors pushing it on junior golfers especially."

Meen Whee Kim: "I liked what Tiger said about how the putter shouldn't be longer than the shortest club in your bag. Anchoring is not a common method of putting in Korea, so my coach had to explain the rule to me. I agree with the ban."

USGA, R&A to ban anchoring in 2016
BASTABLE: R.I.P. belly putter
VAN SICKLE: Rule change does more harm than good

Graphic: Understanding the new rule

November 28, 2012

PGA of America members oppose belly-putter ban; PGA Tour to review in March

Posted at 1:44 PM by Mike Walker

Keegan Bradley won the 2011 PGA Championship at East Lake in Atlanta with an anchored putter. (Robert Beck/SI)

In a recent survey, two-thirds of PGA of America members said they were against banning anchored putters due to concerns over the ban's effect on the growth of the game and the lack of any data to suggest that anchoring is an advantage.

The PGA of America, which represents more than 27,000 teaching professionals and hosts the PGA Championship, shared the results of the survey in a letter to USGA Executive Director Mike Davis and USGA President Glen Nager. Davis announced the USGA's proposed ban on anchored putters in a joint teleconference with R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson on Wednesday morning.

"We believe that golf is the greatest of all games," the PGA of America's letter stated. "We also believe that we need to continue to do what is necessary to preserve all that makes it unique and, consistent with our mission, take actions to grow the game. Therefore, as you near decisions regarding a potential ban on anchoring, we wanted to be sure that you were aware of the polling results as our PGA members are truly the tangible connection between the game and its participants.

"As Mike mentioned in his presentation to us at our PGA Annual Meeting in Baltimore earlier this month, there does not appear to be any data that suggests that anchoring a golf club results in an unfair competitive advantage. In the absence of such data and based on the polling of our PGA members and all of the exciting progress the industry has made through Golf 2.0 and other related initiatives to make the game more fun and, quite frankly, more enjoyable and welcoming to a broader and more diverse audience, we respectfully ask you to consider our concerns."

The PGA of America is not affiliated with the PGA Tour, which issued its own statement on the ban Wednesday:

"While the USGA and The R&A have kept us updated on this proposed rule change, we only recently have been able to review the final language and have not until now had the opportunity to share it with our Policy Board and membership," the PGA Tour's statement said. "As with any rule change, we will go through our normal process of evaluating the potential impact this will have to all our constituents. It will be discussed at our next annual player meeting on Jan. 22 in San Diego, and it is anticipated that it will be reviewed by our Policy Board during its March meeting. During this review process, we will provide periodic updates to our stakeholders."

Davis said Wednesday that the PGA of America, the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour are all consulting members of the USGA's Rules of Golf committee and were involved in the discussions about anchored putters, although he declined to say whether PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem agreed with the ban.

"I think it would be fair to say this question would be better answered by Tim himself or a member of the Policy Board, but certainly the Tour is aware of what's going on and they have a process they have to go through," Davis said.

The LPGA Tour put out its own brief statement Wednesday, saying the women's tour has always followed the USGA's rules:

“The LPGA has consistently conducted our official events in accordance with the Rules of Golf as defined by the USGA and the R&A. We certainly respect golf’s governing bodies and their long-standing desire to protect and promote the best interests of the game.

“The proposed new Rule 14-1b prohibiting ‘anchoring the club’ in making a stroke is not yet final and the LPGA will wait with interest while the USGA and R&A consider further comments and suggestions from the golf community.

“In the meantime, we will continue to discuss this proposed change with our players and provide our input and thoughts directly to the USGA and R&A.”

The European Tour is a member of the R&A's Rules of Golf committee. The USGA is the governing body for golf in the United States and Mexico; the R&A is the governing body for the rest of the world. Speaking for the R&A, Dawson said the European Tour is expected to adapt the rule change without any issue, and recalled a saying of former European Tour official Ken Shofield.

"When he was executive director of the European Tour, he said the European Tour are rules followers, not rules makers," Dawson said. "I think from some remarks attributed over the past two or three days to George O'Grady, that sentiment lives on on the European Tour."

October 31, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Keegan Bradley would consider legal action to block belly putter ban

Posted at 11:05 AM by Mark Dee

Bradley_longputter_webIf Keegan Bradley is forced to give up his long putter, he plans to go down swinging it.

Bradley told Golfweek's Alex Miceli, who is reporting from China, that he'd consider taking golf's governing bodies to court to defend the anchored putting stroke:

“I'm going to do whatever I have to do to protect myself and the other players on Tour,” Bradley said. “I look at it as a whole, as us all together. I don't look at it as much about myself. I think that for them to ban this after we've done what we've done is unbelievable.”

Bradley, the first player to win a major with a long putter, has spoken out most aggressively, but other pros are upset that they have been largely bypassed in the decision-making process, and some expect player resistance as the process moves along.

Among those players is Ernie Els, who, after a period of opposition to the belly putter, seems to be softening his stance since he began using one. Funny what a major title will do:

“They’re going to have a couple of legal matters coming their way,” Els said here, indicating the USGA and R&A. “It's going to be a bit of an issue now. I’ve been against it, but since I’ve been using it, it still takes a lot of practice, and you have to perfect your own way of putting with this belly.”

Despite player resistance, the USGA and R&A appear to be moving toward a rule change, which some expect by the end of the year.

(Photo caption: Bradley lines up a putt during the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational in August. He won the event. AP Photo)

August 10, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Is PGA Championship turning point for belly putters?

Posted at 10:53 AM by Mark Dee

On Wednesday, Graeme McDowell met with the USGA's Mike Davis to voice his opposition to belly putters, according to Hank Gola of the New York Daily News. GMac, who lost the last two majors to players using anchored putters, had this to say of the conversation:

"I think reading between the lines from what the R&A and the USGA are saying, I would say the change is coming," said Graeme McDowell Wednesday. "How imminent that change is obviously a different question..."

...They feel like their research has shown that putting under pressure down the stretch on the back nine on Sunday, when you can anchor the putter to a part of your body . . . that just takes one extraneous movement out of the putting stroke," he said. "It's just kind of a physical fact that if you can just take one element of movement and motion out of the stroke that holing putts will become easier.

"But having said that, if it was so easy, everyone would be using one," he said."

Meanwhile, Webb Simpson, a belly-putter practitioner who clipped McDowell at the U.S. Open in June, picked up on that last point, and drew a very different conclusion:

"Do I think they should be banned? No, and here's why," he said. "You take a wooden driver compared to a 460 cc's titanium, and to me that's a lot bigger difference than a 35 inch putter to a 45 inch putter. Also last year, the strokes game putting, nobody in the top 20 used a belly putter or a long putter. If anybody says it's an advantage, I think you've got to look at the stats and the facts."

Simpson, though, is preparing for the end of anchored days. He says he's already ordered two short Scotty Camerons. "I'm...kind of telling myself to expect it," he added.

September 02, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Rick Perry rips Obama's 'prodigious golf habit'

Posted at 9:00 AM by Alan Bastable

In a less-than-subtle jab at President Obama's love for golf, Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry sent a fundraising request to supporters Thursday asking them to "open their pocketbooks to the amount of $76 — exactly the number of rounds of golf Obama has played since entering the White House," according to Arlette Saez of The e-mail read in part:

“In honor of his prodigious golf habit, I ask you to donate $76 today — a dollar for each round of golf Obama has played since becoming president.

“31 months, 12 days and 76 rounds of golf later, we still await the president’s plan to create jobs. Or, more precisely, his next plan following the failed stimulus that spent our children’s inheritance, exploded the debt and led to greater unemployment. Now the president wants a mulligan.

“Help us yell a pre-emptive ‘fore’ before the president takes a three-iron to the economy and makes matters worse.”

Yikes, somebody get this guy a speechwriter!

Have long putters "neutered the skill factor"? 

Pop riddle: It helped Adam Scott snap out of a slump, it led Keegan Bradley to PGA glory, and now Phil Mickelson is dabbling with it. Religion? Nope. HGH? Not that we know of. The cabbage soup diet? Wrong again! It’s the long putter, and it has some folks asking, “Is it cheating?” Rex Hoggard of the Golf Channel explores:

“If it was cheating you’d see every single person using it,” said Spencer Levin, who switched to a belly putter late last season and has become a convert. “I don’t think it is the cure-all. You still have to be good to use it. But there’s no doubt, you give a good putter a long putter and he’s only going to get better.”

...One man’s cheating is another’s second chance, and, despite the escalating debate over the long putter’s use on Tour, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is no going back.

“Once something is approved it’s difficult to go back,” said Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet Company, the parent company of Titleist, FootJoy and Pinnacle. “The statistical evidence here, similar to the grooves, one of the things that no one ever measures is the guy who plays 18 holes and leaves himself on the right side of the hole for 18 consecutive holes, he’s going to have fewer putts than the guy who is on the wrong side of the hole.

“How do you do any kind of statistical analysis, long putter vs. short putter, to argue that inherently we’ve neutered the skill factor as a result of benefiting technology? I don’t know how you do that.”

Shocker! Another woeful golf movie…

The critics’ scorecards are in for the new Robert Duvall golf movie, Seven Days in Utopia, and let’s just say it’s no Godfather. More like Gawd-awful. I haven’t seen a movie panned this mercilessly since She-Devil. First, the plot, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle:

The protagonist for "Seven Days in Utopia" is an angry young fella (Lucas Black) who has a well-publicized meltdown on the last hole of a Texas golf tournament, then crashes through the fence of a wise old fella (Robert Duvall) on the drive home. Turns out the wise old fella is something of a Golf Whisperer: He peers inside the broken heart of the exasperated youngster and understands all that ails him.

And now the carnage, courtesy of just about every newspaper in the land:

“…A cluttered, empty drama that uses (or tries to use) golf, painting, dinner-table prayers and fly-fishing as pathways to enlightenment.” — The Seattle Times

“…though the drama has its heartfelt moments, it unrolls as flat as the Texas terrain...” — The Los Angeles Times

“The movie is terrible partly because it’s badly written, directed, and conceived and partly because it lacks the necessarily thematic coherence to accomplish proselytism of any kind. It’s handing out leaflets that don’t say anything. — The Boston Globe

“A stultifying hybrid of athletic instruction film and Christian sermon…” — The New York Times

“I would rather eat a golf ball than see this movie again.” — Roger Ebert

All the rotten-vegetable throwing aside, there is at least one compelling reason to go see the flick: K.J. Choi makes a cameo, playing the role of a “fearsome golfer.” Yep, the K.J. Choi.

Seven Days opens Friday.

Tweet of the day



August 16, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Calc's deer antler spray banned by Tour

Posted at 1:32 PM by Michael Chwasky

If you thought professional golfers were free from worry regarding the use of PEDs, you were wrong. Believe it or not, Mark Calcavecchia, who has been endorsing a spray made from deer antler velvet, was recently told by the PGA Tour that the product did not conform to the Tour's anti-doping program. Evidently the product, called The Ultimate Spray, was found to contain an ingredient called IGF-1, which is a growth hormone currently banned by the World Anti-Doping Association and all major sports organizations. 

Mitch Ross, the founder of S.W.A.T.S. (Sports With Alternatives to Steroids), the company that manufactures the spray, said Calcavecchia informed him via text message that he had to stop using the product and that he wanted his testimonials removed from the company's website immediately.

"Got a call from the tour," the text read. "The Spray is officially illegal. Told me to stop (using) now."

Calc's friend Ken Green, who was also endorsing The Ultimate Spray, asked to have his testimonial removed from the company's website as well.

"I feel deceived," said Green.

Tiger likely to be picked for Presidents Cup

Despite missing the cut at the PGA Championship while playing some of the worst golf of his career, Tiger Woods looks to be a lock to be selected for the U.S. Presidents Cup team. Woods is nowhere near qualifying for the squad, but Fred Couples, this year's captain, has previously stated that Tiger will be chosen with one of his two captain's picks, if Woods feels physically ready to perform. Given that Tiger has already indicated he'll be playing in the Australian Open, which is held the week prior to the Presidents Cup, it looks quite likely that the former world's No. 1 player believes he'll be ready.

The unfortunate thing about this development is that, if Tiger does indeed play, another deserving player won't have the chance to do so, including the likes of Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Gary Woodland, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Moore, and others. The potential good side to Tiger's participation is the interest (and TV ratings) his presence will bring to an event that hasn't had a whole lot of heat in recent years. 

Pelz says belly putter is best

In the wake of Keegan Bradley's dramatic victory at the PGA Championship, it's a good bet that more than a few weekend duffers will be trying their luck with a belly putter. According to short game guru Dave Pelz, that's actually a great idea

“When you anchor the shaft in your tummy, and then you swing the putter, you can not break your wrists. There’s no wrist break at all, it’s all in the swing of the putter as determined by your hands. If you look at Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or Steve Stricker … they swing their putters with their arms and they don’t break their wrists or rotate their forearms with the stroke.”

Pelz adds that in his trials with hundreds of students, the best results came from the belly putter, with the long putter second and the conventional putter last. 

Tweet of the Day

Gmacpresser_bigger @Graeme_McDowell: RT @Inspired_Ones: Choose a job you love, & you will never have to work a day in your life. -Confucius


August 15, 2011

Front9 Exclusive: Tour players versus long putters

Posted at 1:55 PM by

With Keegan Bradley breaking the long putter's drought in majors at the PGA Championship, the long-running debate over whether long and belly putters belong in the game is back in the spotlight. Here's where some of the game's biggest names stand on the issue, but as you'll see, where you stand depends on how you putt:

Tom Watson in 2010: “I would get rid of this big broom putter. That’s not a stroke.”

Lee Janzen in 2004: "My take is no putter should be anchored to the body. I have no hard feelings toward anyone who uses one. I just don't think they should be legal."

Frank Lickliter in 2004: "Cheatin' [bleeps]. It turns people with no clue how to roll the ball into adequate putters -- I can't wait for the USGA to outlaw it.”

Arnold Palmer in 2003: “I think they are unfair.”

Legendary golf scribe Dan Jenkins in 2011: “I loathe and despise the long putter with every fiber in my body.”

Tiger Woods in 2003: "I thought the art of putting is to try and figure out how to swing both arms. Anything fixed, I don't think that's right.”

Future long putter user Ernie Els in 2004: "I think they should be banned. Nerves and the skill of putting are part of the game. You know, take a tablet if you can't handle it."

Future long putter user Adam Scott to The Australian in 2004: "I have no problem with guys using them as they are within the rules of golf, but I don't think that you should be allowed to rest any club against any other part of your body. It can't be a true swing of a club or a true stroke of the putter if you are resting it against your body and it's for that reason I agree the belly putter should be banned.



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