Long putters becoming all the rage these days
Belly putters used to be for aging golfers who had surrendered to the yips. By jamming the club into their guts and pushing it back and through like a pendulum, players found a way to remain on the tour for a few more years.
But these days at a PGA event, you're more likely to find long putters in the stomachs of players who don't have them. At the AT&T National on Wednesday, the rail-thin Brendan Steele, 29, and Matt Anderson, 26, were going long.
"It's a simple stroke. You don't have to worry about ball position, alignment," said Anderson, a PGA Tour rookie. "Setup is the same every time."
At the PGA Championship in August, Keegan Bradley, 26, became the first player to win a major with a long putter. Earlier this month, Webb Simpson, also 26, won the U.S. Open using one.
"Webb and I grew up playing together. Webb was one of the best putters I knew with a short putter," PGA rookie Brian Harman said. "He switched to a belly and got better."
The 25-year-old Harman has joined the revolution. The first time he used a belly putter as an amateur, he won the 2007 Porter Cup. Harman does it grudgingly, however, saying it feels like he's "cheating."
"It will be less of a crutch when they outlaw it," Harman said.
While offering better control on short putts, many players say the trade-off is a lack of feel and distance control. Phil Mickelson used a long putter briefly on tour last year. On Tuesday, Tiger Woods said he had tried practicing with a long putter but didn't have much success.
"My stroke is infinitely worse," Woods said. "Putting with anchoring or even different configurations of a standard grip, my stroke doesn't flow at all."
But for players such as Steele, who has been using a long putter since 2006, it's in his bag to stay -- as long as it is not legislated away.
"I don't think that will happen," Steele said. "I would have a hard time. A lot of people would have a hard time."