Belly putters a non-factor in the 2012 Ryder Cup

Phil using the belly putter

 The use of belly putters by regular PGA Tour professionals has been a hot topic this year. Certainly, belly putters have helped to resurrect the careers of some - like Adam Scott, Ernie Els and Matt Kuchar - as well as kick-start the careers for others, namely Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson. 

The Euros won the Ryder Cup, but who won the Ryder Cup of putting styles - traditional or belly?

For Bradley and Simpson, the belly putter has not only helped them win majors (last year's PGA Championship for Bradley and this year's US Open for Simpson) but also earn a spot on the 2012 US Ryder Cup team, of which Kuchar was also a member. 

On Friday and Saturday of the 2012 Ryder Cup, US belly putter players went 7-1 in their matches while the European belly putting team (Sergio Garcia) went 1-2 on Friday and Saturday. 

On Sunday, when it counted the most, the US players - Bradley, Simpson and Kuchar - went 0-3, including a slew of crucial missed putts for birdie and par by Simpson. Meanwhile, Sergio's shining moment in his comeback win on Sunday's singles wasn't even due to his putting but rather Furyk's inability to close him out (Furyk bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes).

Winner of 2012 Putting Cup - traditional putters.

But do belly putters really help a player putt better?

There's been little research done to support the case that they should be banned because they result in an unfair advantage over the traditional style of putting. This article shows evidence that players don't actually show improvement or gain an advantage over traditional length putters. There's no doubt that certain players, namely Adam Scott, have become better putters when using the belly putter. However, they've not ascended to the heights of "putting God" as a result.

For the PGA Tour and the USGA, the decision to change the rules of golf and ban these types of long putters comes down to one 

Langer using his forearm as an anchor

 decision: should a player be permitted to anchor the putter against any part of their body, other than their hands (ie - their chest, forearm or belly)? 

The questions that I like to ask are: if anchoring a putter was such a competitive advantage, why aren't all the players doing it? If it helps players lengthen their career, why should we ban a key component to their livelihood? Why haven't more players adopted

 Bernard Langer's forearm-anchored putting style, when it clearly helped him cure the yips? 

I went to a belly putter back in 2007, when I was having trouble making short putts. It worked great, except on long putts. I put the putter away after 4-putting a hole in a USGA qualifying match.



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