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Friday, September 30, 2011

If You're Determined to Use a Belly Putter...

Then at least I can help you minimize the trauma. Here's a recent video I found featuring former USGA Technical Director Frank Thomas, who doesn't like belly putters any more than I do but is willing to tell you how to get fitted correctly:

I like this video because Frank explains the "6 degrees of movement" that the belly putter minimizes. Please note that he also says that a belly putter is NOT a quick fix. It's going to take a lot of practice to overcome the loss of feel which those "6 degrees" allow. If you don't want to spend a lot of time practicing your putting, this is not the club for you.

And I'd like to add that you won't completely overcome the loss of feel, no matter how much you practice. If you'd like to know why, just take your driver or 3-wood and try to stroke some putts with it. You'll quickly discover that you can't hold the club with a relaxed grip and still keep it in your belly buttton. That relaxed grip is a major factor in developing feel.

By comparison, a belly putter is a strictly mechanical approach. If you choose this method, you are giving up on developing a natural feel for the stroke. If you want to do that, that's fine. But I have trouble understanding why any weekend golfer, who by definition doesn't have a lot of time to practice, would knowingly choose a putting method that not only takes more practice but virtually guarantees less feel.

But for those of you determined to use a belly putter, I found this video that demonstrates the technique:

The proper term for this is seppuku, a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment made popular (?) by samurai. Sort of like what you do to your putting by using a belly putter.

But at least now you'll do it with a properly-fitted one. ;-)

Oh, and if you're interested, Frank Thomas has a website called Frankly Golf at this link.


  1. With any putter change, there should be a period of adjustment. They could also use the belly putter like Kucher or Wie and anchor it on the lead forearm.

  2. I think that's probably the best way to use one. It still forces you to hold the club more tightly than a regular putter, but it's easier to get some feel with it.

    My problem with the belly putter isn't the "attachment to your body" objection so many people have. I just think it's a bad deal when you need extra practice time but get less feel for all the work.

    The problems that drive most people to the belly putter aren't mechanical, but mental. They try to be too perfect with their strokes. If you don't have those mental obstacles, a belly putter just feels too restrictive. You might as well putt with shackles on.

    At least, that's how it feels to me. And since it's my blog, I don't feel guilty about being opinionated about it. ;-)

  3. I am reading Mike Breed's book on putting. He advocates adding a negative loft. You can't do that with a putter in your belly button.

  4. A negative loft? Is he recommending a setup with the ball more forward in your stance?

  5. Still reading it, but on page 18 he says (I'm paraphrasing) that the ball position can vary. The important point is that there is a forward shaft lean.

  6. Well, Breeder is supposed to spend Monday night's Golf Fix on putting. Maybe he'll go into more detail then.

  7. The ban on belly putters and "broom-stick" putters created a huge uproar. But Odyssey has created the Arm Lock putter which actually anchors to the forearm and conforms to the rules and regulations of the P.G.A. Check out more info and picutres here:

  8. Lance, bear in mind that you can do that with ANY belly putter. If they've changed the shape of the grip in order to make the "arm lock" aspect of this putter, it'll be illegal because the shape of the grip is regulated by the Rules of Golf as well.

    What the picture shows is no different from what Matt Kuchar currently does with a standard belly putter. I suspect we'll be seeing a lot of this kind of "hocus pocus" as manufacturers look for new ways to make money from this rule change. Caveat emptor!