Belly putters fall somewhere in between the traditional short-shafted putters and the broomstick-style long putters. Their medium-length shaft provides an anchor point for the putting stroke when placed against the stomach. There has been some controversy involving belly putters in professional golf, but they can be an excellent choice for the amateur player who is looking to drop strokes.
A belly putter has a long shaft that sits against the player's stomach during the stroke. This gives the putter more of a pendulum action and prevents missed shots that occur due to loose wrists or nervous hands. This is especially helpful for older golfers who might have shaky hands because of medical issues.
The first belly putter patent was acquired by Richard T. Parmley in 1965. Phil Rogers was the first professional to use a belly putter on the PGA Tour in the late 1960s. The current wave of popularity began in 2000, when Paul Azinger used the belly putter to improve his putting average to fourth on the PGA Tour after finishing 111th the previous year.
Ideally, the end of the putter's shaft should hit your stomach one or two inches above your navel. You should be able to comfortably stand in your regular stance without bending over to keep the putter in place. When trying out belly putters, use your normal putting technique to take a few practice swings. Your stroke should be straight, resembling the swinging motion of a pendulum as it pivots from the point where the club touches your abdomen.
Because of the success enjoyed by players who use belly putters, requests to prohibit them in competitive events have been made to the United States Golf Association. As of 2009, no rule changes have been enacted on the professional tours, possibly because of the high profile maintained by certain belly putter users, such as Vijay Singh. Golf club manufacturers also have a vested interest in keeping the belly putter legal, as it is one of the industry's best-selling products.
Using a Belly Putter
Set up with the ball in the middle of your putting stance. Make sure the club's face is aligned square to the hole; otherwise, the position of impact on the ball will not match up with the direction your body is aiming.