Phil Mickelson Goes Belly Up With His Putter


Posted by Dexter Francois | Posted in , , , , , | Posted on Friday, September 2, 2011

I turned on the television to watch the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship and I had to do a double take and rub my eyes a little because I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Phil Mickleson was wielding a belly putter? I had just come in from cleaning the pool, so I was squinting a little as I walked in from the sunlight to the inside light. I seriously thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.

Phil must be thinking that his putting was holding back his game, and is joining an ever growing list of professional golfers who are turning to the "long stick." Adam Scott needed to do something so I wasn't surprised when he made the switch. Seeing Jim Furyk using one was surprising, but he's a "thinker" so he's always looking for a new way to do it better. 

And now there's Phil. Maybe he was tired of getting beat by rookies like Keegan Bradley who used his to win the 2011 PGA Championship. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Right? What strikes me as odd is that Bones, Phil's caddie, was asked on Feherty, if there is one thing he could change about the PGA, what would it be? He said, "long putters that are held against the body." Does Phil ever listen to his caddie?

Patrick Gibbons, who makes these exotic belts and accessories, and I were playing a few months ago and we started talking about the long putter controversy. I remember Patrick saying that he didn't have a problem with them. He went on to say, "it's not like anyone has used one to win a major." Who would have thought that a short time later, there would be such a dramatic shift.

I've only tried the long putter once. I really didn't like the way it felt. It was like I was too far away from the ball. I use 33 inch putter. Not quite as short as Robert Garrigus' putter, but I really like to let my arms and hands hang straight down. I've heard some instructors say that it is a good way learn the proper pendulum motion. I can see the benefits and that may be the problem.

I'm still not sure how I feel about the debate on whether the long putter should be deemed illegal. Some of the purist say that it is not a true golf stroke because there are two points of contact, the hands and the chest(or belly), which give the user an unfair advantage. An anchor if you will. On the flip side, others argue that it is not illegal and that they should use every advantage they can. And since it's not illegal, then everyone has the same advantage if they choose to use it.

So if they made it illegal, what would that mean? Would it only be illegal on the PGA Tour and European Tour. What about the Nationwide Tour and all the mini-tours? Would it be illegal on the Champions Tour? A lot of the legends have opted for this method of putting which is easier on the back. Would it be illegal for amateurs like you and me? Would the manufactures risk losing what I'm sure are millions of dollars in order to adhere to the new rule? I doubt it. They are making too much money. And the media is getting a nice piece from the advertising dollars.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. If they keep it illegal, maybe we'll even see Tiger using one as a last ditch effort to find his touch again. What are your thoughts? Do you approve or disapprove? Do you, yourself use one and how does it help you? This one, I'm sure, is going to be debated for some time to come. Have a great round and always hit your target.

Photo found here.

Fred Couples talks about the belly putter. – Book Your Tee Time Today!

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