Friday, September 2, 2011
Anchored Putters – Solution or Fad?
Whenever I think of putters that anchor to your body I think of lemmings. Lemmings are small rodents, some species of which may migrate in large groups when population density becomes too great. Once one lemming decides to move on a bunch will follow. Typically, this includes swimming across a body of water too big to handle. This can be disastrous for leaders and followers alike. Golfers are much like lemmings. With all the recent success of players using belly putters or putters braced against the body during the putting stroke, I have been bombarded by questions recently about their use. Just like lemmings, one player has some success and the rest of us follow no matter how deep the water.
Probably the most famous example was in 1986 when Jack Nicklaus won the Masters using a putter with a head about 4 times the normal size. It was called the Response and I think MacGregor, the company that made the putter, had planned on sales of around 10,000. They ended up selling 500,000 that year. But what worked for Mr. Nicklaus didn’t work so well for everyone else and by the end of the 1986 golf season most of those putters were in storage somewhere taking up space.
This column could go on for pages about what can go wrong using a putter that anchors to your body. The short version of the problem is that when the putter is anchored, the fulcrum of the stroke, or the point your body moves around is in conflict with the forced fulcrum of the stroke by anchoring the end of the putter. In essence the body, in particular the shoulders, are moving around one point, while the putter is trying to swing around another. If you look at Fred Couples stroke you will see a minimal use of the shoulders to counter this problem. Adam Scott does not use his shoulders at all. They both basically swing their hands and arms without any shoulder motion to minimize the conflict between shoulder rotation and putter rotation.
This is not to say that changing to an anchored putter can’t work for you. As long as you understand the proper way to use the club and understand the pros and cons created by making the change. Most of us make the changes without this understanding and it always leads to more problems than solutions. Not only do we make this drastic change and create confusion in our games, when we go back to our original method, we don’t return to the level of proficiency we had when we tried the other technique. We end up worse off than when we started.
So be careful. I don't want anyone to drown like a lemming. If you are going to try a putter that anchors to your body, be sure you have an understanding of how to use it.