Woods offers solution in putter debate – fans of long putter won't like it

tiger woods
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Tiger Woods would like to see the shafts of putters be no longer than the shortest club in the bag.
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: Product Spotlight

Published: Tuesday, February 07, 2012 | 6:10 p.m.

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Tiger Woods has a solution to long putters -- make them no longer than the shortest club in the bag.

Woods said Tuesday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am that he has “never been a fan” of long putters that players either anchor into their belly or the broom-style putters that are pressed against the chest.

“I believe it’s the art of controlling the body and club and swinging the pendulum motion,” Woods said. “I believe that’s how it should be played. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to that.”

Woods said he has spoken to Royal & Ancient Chief Executive Peter Dawson over the last several years about how the language could be written in the Rules of Golf that effectively would ban such putters.

“My idea was to have it so that the putter would be equal to or less than the shortest club in your bag,” Woods said. “And I think with that, we’d be able to get away from any type of belly anchoring.”

He said the putter still could be anchored to the forearm, as two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer once did.

Keegan Bradley became the first major champion to use a belly putter when he won the PGA Championship. Bill Haas used the same style when he won the Tour Championship to capture the FedExCup.

The belly putters gained momentum late last year with Bradley and Webb Simpson, who won twice late in the year and who nearly captured the PGA Tour money title. Both considered themselves good putters who felt as though anchoring the club to their stomach made them even better.

For years, most players believed only players who were desperate to improve used such putters.

Ernie Els once criticized the use of belly putters, but switched to one late last year and said: “As long as it’s legal, I’ll keep cheating like the rest of them.”

Phil Mickelson also experimented with a belly putter during the FedExCup playoffs last year. He since has gone back to a more conventional putter.

The R&A and USGA, while making no formal announcement, have said they would review such putters. While it would seem simple to ban long putters, it can help recreational players stay interested in the game, and any ban might also affect the equipment companies.

“If you look back at the interest in it, it really never changed for over 20 years,” USGA Executive Director Mike Davis said Saturday at its annual meeting. “Then all of a sudden in 2011 … this has become a much bigger topic. So the R&A and USGA have been talking about this at length, and we’re looking at it from the perspective as … what is good for the game for all golfers long term.”

Davis said it would be premature to speculate on a direction the governing bodies are going, except to say they are not ignoring the issue.

“It is something that we have taken a fresh look at, because there are more players in the game, both on the elite level and on the recreational level, using it,” Davis said. “I think we just want to be sure that we’re looking at all the angles and thinking about what is in the best interest, both the traditions of the game, the history of the game and what is what we think would be good for the game long term.”


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Tiger comments are his and rather I agree isn't material to me. I use the long putter which I paid plenty for and do not plan to change just because some folks think that it shouldn't be allowed. Square grooves band to stop folks from backing up the ball. Did anyone see Jason Dufner's eagle? These two organizations I so out of touch...at the end of the day low score wins and rather the equipment is vertical or horizontal you still must get the ball in the hole.

Just another distraction to forced the average Joe to spend more money. I for one is finish supporting an organization that waits 30 years to make a ruling...Good bye USGA


I use a short putter but place it on my belly. If he is a traditionalist why does he use so advanced clubs?


The rule should be simply "the maximum length club allowed is 48"
whether it be a driver or putter.


I am a Tiger fan. However, I have to say, this idea is just really ...... dumb. Ray Floyd putted with a 37" putter, would we tell a player to cut his putter off where the SW length is? Poppycock.


I am a Tiger fan. However, I have to say, this idea is just really ...... dumb. Ray Floyd putted with a 37" putter, would we tell a player to cut his putter off where the SW length is? Poppycock.


This is one of the silliest ideas I have heard so far on the belly-putter. The length of the club has nothing to do with what makes the technique illegal. It's all about "anchoring" the club against the body during the stroke. Some Lob Wedges can be as short as 34". It would be crazy to limit a player to 34" or less with a putter. The rule should be that the putter can be NO LONGER that the LONGEST club in the bag, AND, there will be NO ANCHORING THE HANDLE AGAINST THE BODY> This is not a 'golf move'.

You have the swing the handle with your hands, making an inherent "stroke". Anchoring the club against your belly, or your chest, or your chin is what needs to be banned. Again - Anchoring thee handle against the body is not a 'golf move', and doesn't constitute a "stroke". When you anchor the club you have only ONE lever, or fulcrum point. When you free the handle away from the body, you have to control the club with your hands, NOT WITH AN ANCHOR POINT ON YOUR BODY!

Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Ernie Else, and Keegan Bradley all have an asterisk next to their names on their respective majors for winning with this gimmicky technique.


I started with the traditional putter & converted to three different long shaft putters. I've settled with the belly putter because it just simply comfortable. I surely do not understand why there's this debate be the thinking is moving away from how the game has been intended or that anchoring creates an advantage. Pish! Posh!

For the most part, if I wanted to use a shovel, broom stick, or even a pool cue proving that it's length fall within the parameters of the USGA. What does it matter! This is a worthless discussion that has no warrant and should be squelched.

The rules that are in play governed by USGA are sometimes to be questioned period because they do not make any sense when applied. Not to say I do not follow the rules, When
I do watch the PGA Tour it's because it's always a learning experience.
A long putter doesn't give any player any advantage. It how a player learns how to apply the tool. If all consensuses allow constant modifications to the Irons, Woods, & Drivers without any debates. Then why have this senseless mutter over the long putter......


This isn't an advancement in technology as suggested. It's a fundamental change in equipment and technique. Personally I really don't care one way or the other but many wouldn't have gone to it and many more wouldn't be lobbying for it so hard if it didn't provide a competitive advantage. That's the issue.


I wouldn't trade my belly putter for any club in Tiger's bag. Technology has improved equipment for many years now. Balls fly farther, driver heads are the size of Volkswagons, why take away the long putter?


I wouldn't trade my belly putter for any club in Tiger's bag. Technology has improved equipment for many years now. Balls fly farther, driver heads are the size of Volkswagons, why take away the long putter?


I understand that Tiger, "has never been a fan of the long putter" and that he views himself a "traditionalist". But as there exists no evidence that the long putter provides a competitive advantage I fail to see how banning the method of long putting because certain powers that be "don't like it" is viable or equitable. I have no doubt that long putting allows some players to perform better, however, i also have no doubt that it compromises others ability to perform their best. No doubt, Tiger would fare better if others who utilize the long putter were no longer competitive in its absence but simply because it does not serve Tiger well is no reason to outlaw the practice. Who is Tiger Woods to arbitrarily decide what is traditional? He does not see a personal benefit from the style and anyone who does should be branded in the same way as are those who use performance enhancing drugs? What if others who play the great game of golf with their God given eyesight "are not fans" of those who, like the once legally blind Tiger Woods, play with laser corrected vision. What if this clearly performance enhancing procedure and those who have undertaken it were viewed as "non-traditional"? Here is my idea. As long as Tiger continues to play with his surgically enhanced vision the rest of us should continue to be allowed to wield the longest club in our bags on the putting green. Either that, or I am going to have to find a 48" sand wedge! Cheers


If you outlaw a thirty year old club because someone is just now winning with it how long before we outlaw everything else that has happened to the sport to improve it?

The long putter brings more people to the game, just like the many other improvements. Golf is supposed to be a lifelong sport, however it sounds like there are some who would like to shut down the champions tour by taking their putters away.


I am a dedicated female golf fan now because of the Tiger Woods era and the next generation. Tiger Woods has been learning and playing golf for 33 years. I enjoy talent and people, the different courses and locations, the gallery of fans. I enjoy the excitement Tiger Woods brings to this game. Is it possible the R&A/USGA officials asked Tiger's opinion on the long "belly putter"? You post enough negative remarks about Tiger it is evident you obviously watch every stroke he makes. Want to know my desire? To be at the next PGA Tournament near Georgia.


If you were in a skeet or trap shooting competition, would a rule allowing players to use a gun rest change the essence of the competition . Just a few shooters using the rest?? All shooters using the rest?? Hmmmm!


The belly putter brings physics into the putting process. I feel that it does give a player an unfair advantage over regular putter users. Once the top of the putter shaft is pressing against the player's belly or chest, the player becomes a pivot point which a) secures the top end of the putter and b) requires the use of only one hand in making the stroke, thereby adding more stability to the club and eliminating "the yips." I agree with Tiger Woods' assertion that a putter's length should be equal to or less than the shortest club in the player's bag.


Belly Putters are just a change/advancement in equipment. Should we do away with others, such as large-head drivers, "metal" woods, investment-cast irons, plastic shoe spikes, all the golf ball improvements, etc, etc, etc. Golf is a sport and is evolutionary. No sport stands still . . . . . . And, who made Tiger the world's authority on golf, rules, tradition and equipment?


I switched to a belly putter but I am 6'4" and it doesn't reach my belly (yet anyway) but I like the feel of the balance that the extended shaft above my hands gives me. I still three putt but my putting confidence has risen exponentially in the last year. I occasionally go back to my Ping Anser but I think I'll use my belly putter more and more. I am a traditionalist but, if you want to outlaw the long putters, then outlaw the left-hand-under grip and the "claw" grip, too. I guarantee you, Sam Snead would have loved this club.


I have a belly putter and find that it has an advantage over my old short putter. On the same note the golf balls of some makers have an advantage over other ball makers, and so does my driver's shaft have an advantage over some other shaft's. etc, etc.... If you think it is an advantage go out and buy one. Surely Mr. Woods can afford one belly putter.


Yeah, Tiger knows a great deal about what's right. He's certainly one to emulate. He's playing in a very week field this week. If he should win, it's really nothing special.


I sure wish I was as perfect as Mr. Coffin....Tiger was and still is the greatest golfer of all times...age does play a factor and I am sure Tiger is starting to see that...but he aint gone yet...as far as your other notations....leave him alone thats not any of your business and I bet if anyone looked at you real close they could point out a few flaws....we all have them...


If tiger was using a belly putter it would be different......
must be tough on tiger not being able to cheat anymore.
He will be frustrated until he wins his first PGA event with a full field...Good luck...not matter how healthy he is ...the young talent (especially the Europeans) is younger and in better physical mental shape!!


A putter IS one of the clubs in one's bag, so how can it be "less than the shortest club" in the bag?


I personally have never used a belly putter... however I really don't think Tiger nor any other player should feel they have an input to the direction the R&A or USGA should move regarding any rule. They can have their opinion, however leave the rules to those who govern the game... personally I like the fact that players have moved towards the belly putter, and not just those who struggle with the putter... the day players stop looking to improve or the R&A or USGA take away the means for a player to improve the game will decline. I understand the tradition of the game, but what Tiger is talking about is an opinion... he states that “I believe it’s the art of controlling the body and club and swinging the pendulum motion,” Woods said. “I believe that’s how it should be played. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to that.”
OK, what about the claw grip, not really a traditional grip. What if Jack doesn't agree with the way the guys are putting with the claw grip, is he going to be in the ear of the R&A/USGA? If Tiger is really that concerned about tradition, push to go back to wood and balata.. bring back the skill of shotmaking and curving the ball... perhaps Tiger could hit a fairway once in awhile, oh wait he's only hitting the fairways every once in awhile now... Hey Tiger, if the R&A or USGA wants your opinion I am pretty sure they ask...