Get Shorty: How the pros will adjust to life after belly putters
When the USGA and the R&A proposed a ban on anchored putters, many people wondered what effect it would have on players like Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els and Adam Scott, who have had great success with anchored putting.
But before we can answer that question, we need to look at why so many players were using long putters and belly putters in the first place.
It came as no surprise to me that players who anchored the putter won three of the last five majors. So why did anchoring become so popular? Here are some of the reasons:
1. Swinging the club around a fixed point ensures a constant axis.
2. The putter will return to the same position as at address, thereby eliminating variables such as plane angle, shaft angle and delofting.
3. Ensures a consistent setup: the same ball position and shaft angle every time.
4. Reducing the effects of the yips (involuntary twitching of the hands during impact).
So why haven't more players made the switch?
Our research has shown that the type of putter you use will have very little effect on your stroke. It will change your feel but not the mechanics of the stroke! The only players who really benefit from anchoring are those suffering from the yips. That is why very few players, if any, voluntarily switched to the longer putters. They were forced to use alternate methods because of their affliction.
So will there be a way back for yippers after Jan. 1, 2016? Whether PGA Tour players or recreational golfers, can these players return to using a traditional-length putter?
Absolutely. Here are the adjustments anchored putters need to make, from Keegan Bradley to the guy in your foursome who started using the belly putter last year:
1. Figure out why you went to the long putter. There could be a host of reasons: bad technique, poor setup, catastrophic acceleration through the ball, straight-back-and-through stroke path, the yips...the list go on. Once you know the reason, consult with your golf teacher on a strategy to overcome the issue.
2. If your stroke is twitchy, yippy or wobbly through impact, change your grip. Our research has shown that the claw grip or any variation thereof is an effective way to diminish the effects of the yips. The grip change will restrict the movement of the hands during the stroke, especially the right hand for those playing the game right-handed. When the hands take over, the results become erratic and unpredictable.
3. If you are not allowed to anchor the putter, why not anchor something else? There is no rule against anchoring your elbows! In fact, good putters all control their elbows. A shining example is Jack Nicklaus. He anchored his right elbow to his side and chalked up 18 major wins!
4. The core muscles should be the motor -- the engine -- of the stroke. The more those core muscles are involved, the less the hands will take over. You don’t have to be a physiotherapist to figure out which are your core muscles. Just get a club behind your back and turn the shoulders around the spine, like you would when warming up for your golf game. If you can do that, you are using your core muscles.
Finally, for those who changed to a longer putter because of the trend, remember: good putters understand that it is the Indian and not the arrow. Changing putters might give you a burst of much needed confidence in the short term, but a sound putting stroke with proper technique is much more reliable. That's true for PGA Tour pros, and for you too.
[PHOTO: Keegan Bradley at the Bridgestone Invitational in August 2012. Getty Images]