Altvater: Long putter, belly putter, regular putter: What’s all the fuss?Written by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Long putter, belly putter, or conventional putter, that is the big question today. Adam Scott had a fantastic year after changing to the long putter. Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship and Webb Simpson won three times with the belly putter. One of the best putters of all time, Phil Mickelson even gave the belly putter a try for a couple of rounds.
What is all the fuss about? A golfer standing over a must-make putt has a tendency to tighten up. The small muscles in the hands and arms can become tense and prevent a free-flowing swing of the putter head. The result may be a quick break of the wrists in the back swing or a flip of the hands that creates more of a slap or hit rather than a smooth uniform stroke through the ball.
As putts are missed confidence starts to wane more tension builds inside the body which results in more missed putts.
The putting stroke must start with the correct set up. The putting motion should be initiated from the shoulders and not the hands and arms. The triangle that is formed across the shoulders and down both arms to the putter handle should remain connected throughout the entire stroke.
A long putter like Adam Scott employs hangs under the chin and simply is pulled back and through similar to a pendulum. The putter face remains square to the target line throughout the entire stroke.
The belly putter extends the putter handle through the hands and connects into the player’s torso. This connection prevents the player from flipping his hands through the stroke or making a slap or hit at the ball. Because the putter handle is attached to the torso the putter is turned back and through with the turning of the body. The triangle created by the shoulders and arms is maintained through the stroke.
Watch this short video and notice the connection that maintains the shoulder-arms triangle.
One thing that you will notice with the both the long putter and belly putter is how much heavier they are than conventional putters. The additional weight at the putter head helps to prevent the hands from taking over during the stroke.
A right-handed player that is very right-hand dominant may see immediate improvement with the belly putter, especially since the connection with the body prevents his right hand from taking over during the swing and his right side is forced to stay on the line. If the right hand becomes too active the putter handle will become dislodged from its connection at the belly giving instant feedback.
I would encourage everyone to at least give the belly putter a try. It is a very good training aid. The belly putter stroke gives the player a fantastic feel for the correct stroke and will help if you decide to return to the regular putter.
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