It’s the start of a new year. Time for resolutions about losing weight, making a dent in that bucket list and knocking five strokes off your handicap.
For golfers who use long- and belly-model putters, it’s not too early to start thinking about finding an alternative that complies with the USGA and R & A anchored putting ban that goes into effect starting January 1, 2016.
Technically, long putters and belly putters won’t be illegal. Anchoring them to any part of the body will be what is contrary to the new rule. You can still use a long-shafted putter as long as you don’t “affix” or anchor any part of the club to any part of your body. Currently many golfers anchor the end of a belly putter to their midsection or a long putter to their sternum. Starting in 2016, neither will be allowed.
Since long putters came onto the scene over three decades ago, there are whole generations of golfers who have putted with nothing else. For those of you who fall into this category, the anchored putting ban will be a huge adjustment. Of course, the ban will only be enforced in USGA and R & A sanctioned events and on the professional tours, but the majority of everyday golfers feel compelled to follow the rules of golf for every round. So what do you do? Here are a couple of suggestions
PGA Tour pro Keegen Bradley, who won the 2011 PGA Championship using a belly putter and has used one virtually his entire professional career, is experimenting with using a counterbalanced putter. It’s 6 or 7 inches shorter than his belly putter, but says he gets the same feel as he gets with the belly putter. He said in a recent issue of Golf Magazine that he’ll put the new counterbalanced model into play during the 2015 tour season.
Another suggestion for golfers switching to a conventional-length putter is to try a cross-handed grip. Golfers who use it claim it makes keeping the putter face square throughout the entire stroke much easier. Jordan Spieth, who begins his third year on tour in 2015, uses a cross-handed grip with great success. He also says that many seasoned tour veterans have told him the one thing they would do over again is learn to putt cross-handed from the beginning.
Whatever method you adopt will take some time to learn and become proficient with. That’s why now may be the time to start experimenting. By starting now, hopefully you can make the permanent transition in 2106 as painless as possible.