Is This the End of the Belly Putter ?

Mike Davis of the USGA says that they and the R&A are taking a fresh look at the  phenomenon of the belly putter, and it’s place in the game of golf. Anchoring, as it is commonly called in R&A and USGA circles, refers in general to any putting method in which the putter is secured against the body.  Davis who in the past  has talked sympathetically about golfers whose careers have been saved or extended by chest putters or belly putters has changed his stance on the hot topic. He was speaking at the  USGA annual meeting, which ended Saturday evening at the Houston Hilton Post Oak Hotel. These are his words on the subject;

“All of a sudden this has become a much bigger topic, the USGA and R&A have been talking about this at length. We are looking at it from a perspective that,  what we should look at for everything. What is good for the game, for all golfers, long term I will tell you, the R&A was in Far Hills (N.J.) last week. We have an annual meeting where we talk about all kinds of issues about how we govern the game worldwide.”

“We did talk about various equipment issues, including anchoring. Our board  the USGA Executive Committee, did talk about it this week as well. There are no outcomes at this point.”

“It is something we have taken a fresh look at. More players are using it, both on the elite level and the recreational level. We want to be sure that we are looking at all the angles and thinking about what is in the best interests both of the traditions of the game, the history of the game, and what we think would be good for the game.”

The R&A have a particular view that they do not like the fact that golfers can steady themselves by using a putter as a crutch in windy, rainy or cold weather. In essence, they are steadying themselves with the putter. This was never intended under the Rules of Golf. They are using the putter for something other than a traditional stroke.

If they do change the rules it will not be to ban the belly putter, but rather the method of putting, which is anchoring.

Webb Simpson lines up his birdie putt on the 18th hole during the final round of The Greenbrier Classic.Photo by Getty Images