It's fine — for amateurs
Los Angeles Times
The most sleep-inducing word on the PGA Tour this year is "bifurcation," although the issue over whether the tour should break from USGA and R&A; is hotter than Dubai. Golf's ruling lords have proposed banning "the anchoring" of a club (putter) to a player's body. The PGA Tour has suggested it won't go along. In a perfect world, this ban should have been initiated 40 years ago or at least before belly putting players won three of last five majors.
I do think, like Tiger Woods, it's a competitive advantage at golf's highest level and I would advocate it being outlawed at the highest level.
It would be ridiculous, though, to ban belly putters from amateurs and weekend hackers looking for any way to improve.
Time for it to go belly up
I will preface this by saying that I have never used a belly putter, though I like to use the excuse that my belly got in the way of my putter on those easy 5-footers I miss for double bogey.
Maybe I will need one someday, but for now I say that the belly putter should go belly up — everywhere.
The popularity of what some have called "cheat sticks" exploded among thirtysomethings now that three of the last five major championships have been won by Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els using belly putters.
I can understand Els using it as he gets ready for the Champions Tour, but Bradley and Simpson should be embarrassed.
Ban the belly.
For pros, it must go
The best choice is bifurcation, which is a clunky way of saying that there should be one set of rules for the pros and another for the rest of us.
Fewer and fewer people have the time and money to play golf, and that's hurting the industry. Don't tell the Joes and Moes out there that they can't use the belly putter that has shaved a few strokes off their game. "The wrong move at the wrong time" is how Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins characterized the proposed ban.
For those howling that they want to play the exact same game as Bubba Watson and Nick Watney, keep in mind that college baseball and beer-league softball are played with an aluminum bat. It's not as if that takes away from the enjoyment of an afternoon at Wrigley or the Cell.
Is it really an advantage?
While golf's traditions are part of the game's allure, it's time common sense ends the long putter debate. Purists fairly argue an anchored putting stroke eliminates some of the nerves on the greens. But Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus never imagined overpowering the game's great courses with 330-yard drives, either. The debate has reached the point where the PGA Tour could have different rules than the U.S. Open and British Open.
Some of the game's long-established stars use the long stick. Most have at least tried it. Tiger Woods has not. With millions and major championships at stake, everyone would use a long putter if it were such an unfair advantage.