PGA

Belly Putter Must Be Banned on PGA Tour

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 14:  Adam Scott of Australia putts on the 8th hole during the final round of the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2013 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Richard LangfordCorrespondent IApril 15, 2013

With his putter firmly anchored in his belly, Adam Scott drilled a putt on the second playoff hole of the Masters to win the green jacket. 

This helps erase the sting of Scott's stunning, final-round collapse at the British Open last year, and it helps highlight the fact that club anchoring does not have a place on the PGA Tour. 

One of the greatest aspects of watching professional golf is the chance it lends for us to see how these talented individuals handle pressure. Nowhere is that more apparent than on the greens. 

With the solace and time to think about things on the golf course, it makes even the steadiest and coolest of competitors a bit shaky. There may have never been a better example of this than Greg Norman's epic collapse at the 1996 Masters. 

In the face of mounting pressure and dwindling confidence, Norman made putting look almost impossible. 

Nerves are going to be prevalent in the fine motor skills required to putt, where just a fraction of an inch can mean the difference between a make and a miss. 

When a player locks a putter into the belly, it becomes easier to steady the swing. Now, the hands are simply guiding, rather than controlling a free-flowing swing. 

As a result, the pressure becomes easier to handle and none of that is what golf is about. 

It has taken a while for the competitive advantage of the belly putter to come into full view, but consider that four of the last five major winners have all used one: Joining Scott are Ernie Els at the 2012 British Open, Webb Simpson at the 2012 U.S. Open and Keegan Bradley at the 2011 PGA Championship.

The pressure doesn't get any higher than it is at a major, and the fact that these tournaments are now being dominated by men who anchor their putters is telling.

In fact, I'm willing to bet that Scott wouldn't have been the first Australian to win the Masters if Norman had been anchoring in 1996. 

I don't point this out to cheapen any of the victories for any of these golfers. The rules allow them to use this club and more power to any golfer who finds any legal way to make the game easier. 

My point is to say that the PGA Tour needs to take away the choice by making anchoring illegal.

Put the game back in the player's hands and out of their bellies. 

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