Keegan Bradley's PGA Championship victory may have been the spark to the belly putter controversy.
Everyone knows that putting can win or lose tournaments. That's why so many PGA Tour pros employ putting coaches, like Dave Pelz or, most notably, Dave Stockton.
However, there has been a new trend in how the pros try to go about the improvement of putting: the belly putter–an extended length putter that extends out and comes in contact with a player's torso.
Up until this year, the issue has not held much clout. Not many pros were able to crack the code that was the belly putter. However, given the fact that the belly putter achieved double digit wins on tour this year, including the PGA Championship with Keegan Bradley, it's validity has come into question.
The PGA and R&A have agreed to meet to discuss about new rules, and it is assumed that exactly this will be the main topic of discussion.
So why isn't the belly putter fair?
The key to the belly putter's success is that by extending the putter, the player now has a more stabilized stroke throughout. This makes it easier for tour pros to hit putts on line, and therefore, make them. It isn't always the case for everyone that putts drop more, but for many it is a common result.
What about Adam Scott? His putter reaches up to his sternum. Where does that fall? Under what I think should be imposed, Scott would be allowed to use his putter as he does not anchor the putter against his body. What I am suggesting is not a length ban, but a ban against anchoring the club on your torso.
What should the PGA and R&A do about putters?
Matt Kuchar's extended putter that lays across his wrist would be acceptable under this as well.
Although the issue may seem moot, if the belly putter is done away with, it could very well end successful runs like Keegan Bradley's, who has relied on the belly putter. It would take a great transition by a pro using a belly putter to switch back and have the same success they do today.
What became the worst putters' on tour last option has now become a craze and one that has had much success with players as of late.
The belly putter does not have a place in golf. What it does is cover up a player's shortcomings, giving them an advantage over those who don't need to anchor the putter because they are capable putters. All tour pros are capable of putting without anchoring the putter to their torso. Using a belly putter is just a way of skipping the amount of practice that any good putter puts into their game.
Luke Donald, current world No. 1, recently tweeted to his followers that on average he only hits about 100 balls per day. His focus is, of course, on the short game. What Donald has proven is that putting in the work on your putting (and other short game areas) can elevate a player to new levels. That is what needs to be instilled. Not that using a longer putter to stabilize your stroke can substitute for practice.
Expect a change, and expect big results from this. Players may just fall off the map depending on how much the rule impacts putters, and it could bring about the revival of those who putt "traditionally" who wouldn't have any transition.