The USGA, the major governing body of the game of golf, is proposing a ban on the putting style Woodstock’s Keegan Bradley uses.
The USGA announced a rule change, prohibiting the anchoring of the putter against a player’s body. All mid-length and long putters are still legal, as long as they aren’t anchored. (See an explanation here.)
Bradley, who uses a mid-length belly putter was one of three players to win a major championship in the last two years using an anchored putter.
If adopted, the change would go into effect Jan. 1, 2016. Bradley could use a belly putter up until that day.
“I have total respect for [executive director] Mike Davis and the USGA, and they are doing what they think is best for the game, and I respect that,” said Bradley to the Golf Channel. “That doesn’t mean that I’m happy with the decision, but I respect what they’re trying to do. They’re definitely not trying to make the game worse, I know that.”
At his charity golf tournament in August, Bradley was asked about his belly putter. He said he started using it five years ago, though he tried it off an on throughout college.
“When I turned pro, I was able to get fitted properly and it just fit right off the bat,” said Bradley of the putter.
Golfers weighed in on the news about the belly putter ban Wednesday.
“It is blatantly unfair to have let it go on this long and now decades later make this proposed ruling,” said one-time major champion Tom Lehman to the Golf Channel. “There are many young players who have grown up with the belly putter, never even using traditional methods. To tell them it is illegal or against the spirit of the game is way late, very unfair and in my opinion unethical. If I were Webb Simpson or Keegan Bradley or Bernhard Langer or anyone else who has poured their hearts and soul into putting this way, I would be furious. The reality is that successful golf is achieved by what happens between the ears. I am disappointed with this ruling.”
Some were in support of the USGA. Tiger Woods has been outspoken about belly putters.
“I just believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling nerves,” said Woods to the Associated Press on Tuesday. “And having it as a fixed point, as I was saying all year, is something that’s not in the traditions of the game. We swing all other 13 clubs. I think the putter should be the same.”
Former PGA Champion Steve Elkington made his opposition to the belly putter known on Twitter.
“Web(sic) Simpson & Keegan Bradley have the most to lose… If they don’t win anything post BAN …. Did they really Exist?” wrote Elkington.
Bradley summed up his feelings about a possible ban back in August at his charity event.
“I think there’s me and Webb (Simpson) and a few other guys that putt too good for these older veterans out there that are getting grumpy about it,” Bradley said. “I think that in the long run, they’re going to make the right decision, I hope. I’ve put hours and hours of work into that putter, so it would be a shame for them to take that away — from not only me, but a lot of guys on tour.”
Keegan Bradley uses a conventional putting style during his charity tournament in Woodstock in August. Bradley’s belly putter has been banned by the USGA. (Rick Russell Photo)