The USGA has proposed a ban on the belly putter. Personally, I’ve always thought the belly putter was stupid, but I wanted to check with an expert to make sure. So I e-mailed our longtime commenter/golf expert, Spencer096. Mr. 096 was more than happy to oblige and offer everyone a Q&A style breakdown of what this ban means for the PGA and the golfers who use the belly putters.
Nothing to See Here: An Informal Anchored Putter Ban FAQ
CRM: Don’t lie…you wanted to title this “Anchors Away” didn’t you?
Spencer096: I did indeed.
CRM: I knew it, you scallywag. So what’s the new rule say?
Spencer: Dude, the rule’s a whole bunch of nonsense legalese mumbo jumbo, but from what I can gather, belly and long putters will be illegal according to USGA and R&A rules (golf’s governing bodies) in 2016.
Spencer: They look silly.
CRM: Seriously? That’s it?
Spence: Hah…there is some benefit to having the putter anchored, like taking the hands out of the stroke (hi-yo!) and I guess some other stuff, but they suck for long putts and, until recently, none of the great (or even good) putters used them. Hell, you don’t see a long/belly putter in strokes gained putting until Carl Pettersson at 21, unless you count Jim Furyk, who only uses one occasionally.
It’s kind of a story that they’ve been winning a bunch of majors recently with Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and
Adam Scott Ernie Els all winning majors recently, but in reality, it’s not an epidemic.
CRM: But I heard Adam Scott and Ernie Els become awesome putters when they started using them.
Spencer: No. Scott went from a horrible 186th in strokes gained with a standard putter to an ELITE 143rd in 2011 and 148th in 2012. Els, the past two years, has been 181st and 112th respectively. If an anchored putter was some panacea, wouldn’t Vijay Singh have been at least a mediocre putter?
CRM: So who’s gonna suffer?
Spencer: Like in every divorce, the kids. Keegan Bradley was 29th in strokes gained and, when coupled with his great driving, he made a ton of birdies and long par putts (because he sucks with his wedges) with the belly. Webb Simpson, somewhat surprisingly, only ranked in the 50’s in strokes gained, but made all sorts of clutch putts (also missed a couple gimmes for wins/ties, it should be mentioned).
I distinctly remember the both of them making boatloads of clutch putts on Sunday afternoons…so maybe with a traditional putter their hands will get a lil’ antsy under the gun. I guess we’ll see.
CRM: Back to the ban…so would you say it’s an attempt to keep the traditionalism in golf?
Spencer: That’s not bad but I like how Tiger put it…“it should be a swinging motion throughout the bag.”
CRM: Isn’t that a bit hypocritical considering we’re in the titanium age of… Hold on. Everyone is going to know you wrote this.
Spence: No way, brah. Just edit it or something.
CRM: Good idea. Remind me before I hit publish.
CRM: Isn’t that a bit hypocritical considering we’re in the titanium age of watermelon-sized drivers, hybrids, game improvement irons and the juiced ball?
Spence: Took the words out of my mouth.
CRM: Was this the issue that needed to be addressed?
Spence: I would say that it was an issue that needed to be addressed, but I’m not sure it’s the biggest golf faces, unfortunately.
CRM: Care to elabo –
Spence: Much like the previous rule regulating the depth and width of the grooves, the ban on anchored putters is really not getting at the root of the problem with the game. I’m willing to guarantee that we don’t see any impact whatsoever on scoring average thanks to this ban…not as long as they’re all playing with a technologically advanced ball.
CRM: So what you’re say –
Spence: Yes, the Tour golfers are in good-to-great physical shape and playing giant drivers with springy faces, but the multi-piece core ball that goes farther and doesn’t curve as much as the old, wound core balls of the Golden Era has taken a lot of the skill out of driving and has had a huge impact on course conditioning and setup, which has an enormous impact on the cost of the game, and in turn, participation.
CRM: So –
Spence: On Tour, the courses are extremely long, and amateurs love to play the whole course like the guys on TV…bigger courses, more real estate to mow, fertilize, water, pay taxes on, etc…leading to higher greens fees and less people that can play, and, after awhile, the less courses that still exist. Plus, it’s making a lot of classic old courses without the room to expand obsolete.
CRM: Heady stuff bro.
CRM: Closing thoughts?
Spence: Ban is cool, I guess. I feel bad for Carl Pettersson, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley, but Ernie Els, Adam Scott and Vijay Singh wouldn’t putt worse with a traditional putter because they couldnt putt worse with the anchored putters. It’s hypocritical, doesn’t address the real issue and won’t make a damn difference. I guess there’s really nothing to see here. Also: /tl;dr
CRM: Thanks Spence.