Belly putter saga

  • Mar. 6, 2013 4:13 p.m.

The belly putter rule is dead! Long live the belly putter rule!

My apologies for destroying that historic quote which was used to commemorate the crowning of a new king after the previous one had passed away.

In this case, the old belly putter rule is on its death bed while a new rule is cooking in the ovens of the Royal & Ancient and the USGA.

But wait, the plot thickens as the PGA had decided to take a clear as mud stance about the rule banning anchoring a long putter.

Essentially what came out of the mouth of PGA commish Tim Finchem was they don’t agree with what the governing bodies are pitching but didn’t exactly say what their plan for tour members was going to be.

The main point Finchem made in front of many viewers of the Accenture Match Play was there is no empirical evidence the use of a long putter anchored somewhere on your body allowed for an advantage over other golfers.

He added the ban would slow down growth of the game on the amateur level.

The USGA and the R&A counter with the integrity of the game being compromised by a player not executing a swing with the long putter. So off with its head!

Well a quick look back shows this putter has been around for decades but only since Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els won on tour with the broom handle has the debate about its use heated up.

The governing bodies clear their collective throats, look annoyed and state those wins have nothing to do with what they are contemplating.

But if the integrity is at the centre, why wait so long to make a move on changing the rule? As for the perceived advantage, the PGA stats show no such thing.

In 2012, the strokes gained category, a main measuring stick for putting, showed no belly putters in the top 12 players.

In the average putts per round category, once again no belly putter players in the top 12.

If the ruling bodies stick to their guns then it will be interesting to see what the PGA Tour does in response and that is a whole other mess.

The saga will continue for a little while longer with a decision to be made in late spring but a showdown is looming as one side or the other has to blink.

Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!

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