How to Use a Belly Putter

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Why Belly Putting?

Phil Mickelson using a belly putter on the PGA Tour
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

(Ed. Note: Beginning in 2016, anchoring putters is outlawed by the USGA and R&A in rounds and competitions played under the Rules of Golf. The ban is covered by a new rule, Rule 14-1b (Ban on Anchoring). However, that doesn't mean that the many recreational golfers who've been helped by belly putters will stop using them, or that manufacturers will stop selling them to those golfers. You might still be interested in trying an anchored belly putter, and if you are, instructor Michael Lamanna offers tips in this article.)

Conventional putting is still the dominant method; however, belly putting has become a viable option. So many top players in professional golf had great success using the belly putter that the governing bodies felt it necessary to enact a ban on anchoring beginning in 2016.

Belly putting was always controversial. Golfers using traditional-length putters have only two connections to the club: the hands. They often struggle with loose wrist action, which can produce a breakdown of the path and face position at impact. Additionally, under pressure the arms tend to rotate and swing independent from the shoulders, which also produces inconsistent clubhead movement.

The belly putter allows a golfer to anchor the club in a third spot, which becomes a fulcrum. This gives the putting stroke stability and produces a more consistent stroke path. The hands, wrists and body are linked with the shaft. The shoulders move the arms, hands and putter as one unit, and this produces perfect pendulum action.

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Belly Putter Set-up and Stance

Belly putter setup and stance
Michael Lamanna

The technique for belly putting is very similar to conventional putting. The goal is to produce a pendulum-stroke action with a slight inside-to-inside arc. Here are a few setup and stroke keys for the righthanded golfer:

  • Make sure you set up with perfect posture every time. Your knees should be very slightly flexed, your upper spine straight and your torso bent forward from the hips.
  • Your weight should favor the left foot slightly, and you should be balanced on the balls of the feet.
  • Your elbows should be slightly bent and they should touch the sides of your ribcage.
  • Place the grip of the putter in your palms and use your normal putting grip. Use light grip pressure for better feel and rhythm.
  • Anchor the putter just to the left of your navel. Since your weight is distributed slightly to the left foot, your stroke arc will bottom out just to the left of your body center.
  • Position the ball approximately two inches left of your stance center. This will allow you to make contact with the ball as the putter bottoms out and begins to rise.
  • Align your body parallel to the target line and position your eyes over the inside edge of the ball.
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The Belly Putter Stroke

Belly putter stroke
Michael Lamanna

To stroke the putt using an anchored belly putter:

  • Use a pendulum stroke, equal length back and through, moving only your shoulders rhythmically. Your head and body must be very still with no up, down or lateral motion.
  • Allow your shoulders to turn around your spine.

If you struggle putting, you might experiment with the belly putter. As you can see, there are some definite advantages to using this club and technique and it might just work for you.

Just remember that anchoring putters is against the rules beginning in 2016, so if you continue (or begin) to use a belly putter with the technique (anchoring) described in this article, you will not be able to do so in tournament rounds, handicap rounds or other situations when following the rules is required.