No belly ban evidence, says Ernie

Els explains lack of support for outlawing anchored putters

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Els won the Open with the belly

With a decision on the future of anchored putters imminent, Ernie Els says there is not enough evidence to support ridding his belly putter.

The USGA and R&A allowed for a 90-day comment period when revealing its new proposal at the end of 2012 to outlaw a stroke in which the putter is anchored to the body.

Although the new proposal would not become effective until 2016, the reigning Open champion is hoping the authorities have a change of heart by letting players continue anchoring putters to their body.

“Hopefully they don’t ban it,” said Els, who become the third winner in the last five majors to use a belly putter.

“There’s no data that really conforms that they have to ban it. If there were 90% of the guys using it, or if the guys using it were top of the putting stats, guys making more putts from 20-feet, more putts from 4-feet… Give me something to go by to really make me believe that you have to ban it.

“I can’t see them having a really great way of explaining to me why they would want to ban it.”

Els believes etching his name on the Claret Jug for a second time in a decade was a huge influence on the proposed rule, occurring just several weeks after Webb Simpson used the fire in his belly to clinch maiden major glory at the US Open.

“Before Webb won, I saw a quote from [USGA executive director] Mike Davis saying they don’t see the great benefit, that they don’t see that there’s any importance of banning the putter,” he added.

“And then Webb wins, and I win, and then the next thing is they want to ban it. So in all honesty, I’m not too sure what their whole reason is behind this whole thing.

“There’s a handful of guys using it. It’s helped some careers. Some guys cannot putt another way, so there’s some stuff that you have to follow through.”

Els is correct. When Mike Davis was appointed executive director in April 2011, he told the Golf Channel that the USGA ‘don’t see this as a big trend’.

“It’s not as if all the junior golfers out there are doing this,” he said. “No one’s even won a major using of these things anchored to themselves. So we don’t see this as something that is really detrimental to the game.”

What do YOU think about the anchored putting ban? Come and join the discussion in this forum thread, or you can tweet us @Golfmagic.

More on the anchored putting ban

R&A and USGA ban anchored putting 
What the pros are saying on the ruling
 
What the amateurs are saying on the ruling
 
A brief history of long putters
 
Poulter: Belly putters? Ban ‘em!
 
TaylorMade boss: Anchor ban makes no sense

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So Ern, if there is no advantage, you have no problem with banning it for being "a non conforming stroke?"

Posted: 18/02/2013 at 15:28

Yeah, no advantage so you use it because?

He did actuall say a while ago it was cheating and he would carry on using it till they ban it

Posted: 18/02/2013 at 15:52

Well nobody has won a tournament using a long putter on the European Tour or PGA Tour this season...

Posted: 18/02/2013 at 18:52

A perfect witness for the prosecution!

Posted: 18/02/2013 at 19:09

If some guys can't putt any other way then they should not be on tour. It's like saying a tennis player has a great serve but can't return shots,would he be on tour? Probably not. They really missed a trick here,it should have been banned years ago,it's leagalised cheating of the highest order,you need to be able to control your nerves that's part of the game.

Posted: 18/02/2013 at 19:57

“I can’t see them having a really great way of explaining to me why they would want to ban it.”

  it's not golf  - in the same way as croquet style, snooker style (even using the head not grip) etc

Posted: 18/02/2013 at 20:26

How many people on here actually use a belly putter or broom handle putter? I just wonder how 'easy' it actually makes putting or if it is just another tool in the same way an adjustable driver or graphite shafted iron is. Manufacturers are constantly making new items from balls to GPS devices in order to improve a golfer's game, but you don't see everyone playing off scratch.

I see a lot of compelling arguments for banning it, but there are also several good points why there should not be a ban.

Posted: 20/02/2013 at 10:54

Been some rumour recently that alot of the players (Woods / Stricker) are less bothered than they used to be and that even if the rule goes through the PGA Tour may allow a local rule permitting the putters.

That would have the ludicrous consequence of european tour players being banned from using them, US Open and Open CHampionship banning them but the PGA events (Including the PGA and Masters) allowing them....

I'm quite up for banning them, but i'd much rather keep the same rules for every event!

Posted: 20/02/2013 at 10:59

Similarly though does an insert in the putter face not make it easier? Weighting/shaping of putter heads to promote a better swing not make it easier? Should we all just go back to using waist high golden goose putters??

Monty lost some majors on the basis of a couple of putts, should he not have used a long putter if it was that easy and while it was legal? Pretty sure that would have left a legacy of a Major winner rather than slightly embittered man never to win one.

About an amateur not wanting to use in case of a ribbing from his friends, surely the same would apply to some of the fugly GI irons recently (see the GM test), but if people get results they will use them. Many people do give into vanity, but there are plenty who don't. Surely the amount of practice should be directly correlated to the amount you should practice with any other putter as well.

Also people have won majors with these putters recently, but they have been about for years. Just because someone is winning doesn't mean you should ban it. Dustin Johnson won his first tournament using the R1 this year, shall we ban it?

I honestly don't have a strong opinion either way as if it is banned it makes no difference to me, but I just wonder how much of this is a knee jerk reaction to some people's comments who, as CBE suggests, have cooled their interest in the subject.

Posted: 20/02/2013 at 12:13

It's time to ban them. As the USGA / R&A are aware, these putters are no longer the preserve of the older player battling the yips. Young players are using them from day one, and it's a growing trend.

Re- comment above regarding PGA Tour and "local rule", that is a dangerously divisive move. For good or ill, the USGA / R&A govern the game and set the rules, we all should follow.

Posted: 20/02/2013 at 12:56

Paul - I agree that the anchoring is a change in the stroke, but things like weighting of clubs is fundamentally changing the control of a players stroke also.

Take for example Rory: after finding he could not control the stroke of his new Nike putter he added 6 grams to the weight, hence he fundamentally changed that putter to suit his stroke. This means in pressure situations the stroke of the putter is (perhaps) more down to the club than Rory's ability to control it.

Other things like drivers with adjustable weights etc. are taking a players stroke and using club head technology in order to correct a flaw in it.

I accept the above is pretty extreme, but the concept is true. Rory still has to swing the putter whatever the weight in the same way that, say, Keegan Bradley has to swing the putter even if it is anchored.

Unless there is conclusive proof that the anchoring does give an overall advantage, i.e. have all players on the tour use it and find out their stats before/after, then many could just argue that it is a development in technology as with many other things.

Posted: 20/02/2013 at 15:56

It's a bit of a sensationalist story with not much basis.

Ernie has had a short putter in his bag since the announcement was made near the end of last year.

When asked "what are you going to do about the anchoring ruling?", he simply pointed to his bag and said "use the short putter".  He also commented on feeling uneasy about the public perception that those who win with a long putter are "cheating".

Posted: 20/02/2013 at 17:04

But by weighting it could be argued that you are nullifying the negative impact of the third variable to the point that the swing has the characteristics of a 2 dimensional swing. Thus weighting or custom fitting could be said to act in a similar manner as anchoring and, as you point out, even with the belly putter "you still have to swing it, control it, and make it hit the ball towards or into the hole."

The players mentioned above were all successful in their own right before they moved to the belly putter, so could the change to that club also be seen as a compliment to other changes they perhaps made at that time: new coach, new swing, illegal drugs (allegedly).

I realise this will go on and on as, in my opinion, there are clear arguments for and against. I do wonder though that until it is proven to have a beneficial impact, not hypothesis or a couple of pros opinions, then how can it be banned rather than be seen as part of the evolution of golf?

Posted: 20/02/2013 at 17:21

Stephen,

Nice post, but the bottom line is that the pros mentioned have only gone the the long/anchored putter as a result of their problems in putting normally.

As simplistic and raw as it is, I am a firm believer that the act of swinging a golf club to hit a golf ball must be done without anchoring the end of the club to the body in order to control the movement of that club.

Posted: 20/02/2013 at 17:30

I agree Lou, if the anchoring took place with any other club and there appeared to be an advantage, then the powers that be would ban it. Ye Gods, poor old Sam Snead's method of side putting was banned because he was so successful with it! 

Posted: 20/02/2013 at 19:21

My younger brother switched to a belly putter recently and putts with much more composure than previously. He went to it to take his wrists completely out of the equation and it's worked. He's had a few jabs thrown his way verbally for making the switch, but it's worked out well for him and he's gone from serious complications on the green that ruined his enjoyment of the game to sinking the odd putt and walking away with a smile.

In competitive play, it does seem unfair that someone who previously you could rely on to miss putts now stands a fair chance of making them more often.

I think there will always be a mixture of putting strokes in the same way there is a mixture of putters, grips, shafts, weighting and everything else. Is it wrong that guys stick a putter in their stomach or rest it on their chin? It seems odd that the Driver, which is used but 13-14 times (less on some courses) has a length limit, whilst the putter can reach somebody's face.

I'm on the fence with this, but it's interesting to read people's thoughts.

Posted: 21/02/2013 at 14:46