I'm not sure five years ago I could have ever pictured myself writing the following article. I have always been extremely traditional in my beliefs when it comes to the great game of golf. Especially in the area of putting.
I always felt as a golfer you needed to work hard to develop the skill we call putting. It shouldn't come easy because it is not.
I remember the first time I saw a long putter, and later, the first time I saw a belly putter. On both occasions I didn't particularly like or agree with the "it should be legal" aspect of the method.
Today, I believe the belly may be the best way to roll your rock — given a student's ability to be open to change. The ability to stabilize the shaft or "anchor the handle" is huge. Happy hands go away! That means hands that wander or break down are a thing of the past in this method.
One really big deal with the belly is the fitting of the club, in my opinion. I know many of you are saying , "a putter fitting" is absolutely vital! I have believed for a long, long time putters — all putters — should be fit, just as irons, woods and wedges should be fit.
In basic terms, the length of the belly should do two things.
1. It should allow you to get into the same postured position you have become accustomed to with your standard putter, given your original posture was fundamentally sound.
2- Once in that position, the length of your belly putter, once inserted, should apply consistent and firm pressure to your belly area. Pressure is a vital point in this area. Without that pressure, this method is useless. Pressure secures the shaft in one consistent place.
This method takes the fast twitch muscles — the hands and wrists — 100 percent out of the equation. Putting becomes much more of a core movement. The core moves in time with the arms, and, again, it takes the hands out of the stroke. When your hands stay quiet in the backstroke, you can hear the loud sound of the ball going in the cup after your forward stroke.
I'm sure many of the "old guys" — Mr. Hogan, Bobby Jones, and Old Tom Morris — are rolling over in their graves over this method. However, it's here to stay.
And if I can help you, come out and "belly up" with me.
Tom Patri gives lessons at the Quarry on Immokalee Road, and is at Friar's Head in New York from May-December. Patri is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. Visit Patri's website at www.tompatri.com or email him at email@example.com.