Conventional Putter Or Long-Shafted Putter
Where did this trend begin? In 2000, Paul Azinger won the Sony Open with a homemade belly putter. Paul was in the Putter Studio with Titleist's chief putter designer Scotty Cameron a few months before the Sony. They analysed where the butt of the putter aims at address, during the backstroke, at impact, and during the forward stroke. It was found that the best putters keep the butt of the shaft aimed within a two-inch circle in the belly area during the stroke. Paul, thinking about the two-inch circle, made a putter by shoving a shaft down the shaft of his putter, and worked on anchoring the butt of the extended shaft into his belly. He made sure the putter was legal and the rest is history.
"According to Cameron, the belly putter puts the player in a repeatable position where mental memory can create muscle memory. Anchoring the putter helps eliminate unnecessary moving parts, like wandering the butt and flipping the head through impact, and it allows a controllable and repeatable stroke that creates a consistent arc."
Cameron says, "I believe in the belly putter and I believe in the long putter." The fastest growing segment of his putter business last year was belly putters. If nothing else, it can be a good training aid to help feel where the butt of the putter should stay. It is a good way to feel the proper stroke if you are struggling. Check where the butt of you putter points by using a laser pointer or small flashlight while making a stroke in a mirror. If it is wandering more than the two-inch circle, you could probably benefit from using an anchored stroke. If you have a problem consistently hitting putts solid including directional and distance issues, and a ball that hops, skips or just doesn't roll pretty, you could probably benefit from a belly or long putter.
Your problems won't go away just by buying a belly or long putter. As with all aspects of the game, it requires practice. Like anything it takes a lot of work to do extremely well and get to where your mind will totally believe in it.
It is important to get properly fitted for a belly or long putter. You can't just extend the shaft of your standard putter and expect it to work right. The head is too light and the shaft too flexable. The heads of belly and long putters are much heavier and have special shafts to handle the extra length and weight.
A simple to way to measure for a belly putter is to attach a string with a weight to the middle arch of a pair of glasses. Take the proper address position with the ball off the left heel or left instep, the shaft at 90 degrees with the sole of the putter flat on the ground and the butt touching your belly with medium pressure and see where the string hangs. The proper shaft length should put the string one inch on the inside of the ball.
As always the fundamentals still apply, starting with alignment. Alignment must be correct for the backstroke and forward stroke to follow. If alignment is bad, the other two will be bad also.
Now to the big question. Should everyone go out and switch to a belly or long putter? NO! If you are a good putter, don't mess with it. In other words, "don't fix what ain't broken." Most players would have a good or at least better stroke if they just allowed it to happen. We get in the way by trying to manipulate the putter on the right path and steering it to the hole. Just let the putter do the work.
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