Please Note: This article on choosing and fitting a belly putter grip is an archived page, written before the 2016 belly putter ban. Remember that anchoring a putter in your midriff is now illegal under the rules of golf... Otherwise, please enjoy the page!
Why are good Belly Putter Instructions so hard to find? Whilst putting this page together I searched for a nice video made by one of the numerous Tour pros who use a belly putter telling us how it's done ... but I couldn't find a single one.
At least a teaching pro... Surely they could give us precise belly putter instructions?
No. Not a single decent "How to" video.
on a belly putter...
Not in the US? Click here for eBay listings for a belly putter in your regionThe best one I could find was Fred Couples teaching you how his belly putter helps him keep his head down... Belly Putter Instructions according to Fred Couples. Not that useful, I think you'll agree.
So, because I'm the first person to do so, AND because I used a belly putter in my former career as a tournament professional, I can probably claim that the following are the internet's definitive Belly Putter Instructions (!!!):
Grip ... Use the grip you're most comfortable with (reverse overlap / cack handed etc.)
Stance & Posture ... Keep all of these the same as if you were using a standard putter.
Just because you're using a different length of putter, doesn't mean you can be sloppy with the basics. Putting 101 still remains the same: Stand square or very fractionally open to the target time, focus your eyes on the back of the ball until you've made contact and keep your body still during your stroke.
Now for the specific Belly Putter Instructions. I believe there are 3 absolute keys to success:
But the benefit of the fixed point is lost if you fix the handle in a different place each time. You wouldn't expect to be able to move the point a clock pendulum hangs from and still have it swing along exactly the same path, would you?
The secret here is to develop a routine in which you place the top of the putter grip into exactly the same spot in your stomach each and every time you putt.
I used to do this by placing my left thumb (I'm right handed) into my navel every time before I put the putter into my belly and then whilst holding the putter with my right hand I laid the butt end of the grip directly on top of my thumb.
Bingo... The putter grip was guaranteed to be in the exact same position every time.
If you vary your ball position - moving the ball forward or back in your stance, you'll hit the ball to the left or right of the target accordingly.
Why? Because with a pure on-plane stroke the face is open before the mid-point of the arc and the closed after the mid-point.
With a standard putter the same is true, but most of us golfers are quite good at correcting this with a late manipulation in our hands. Trouble is... With a belly putter it's much more difficult to open or close the putter face at the last minute, so
the need for consistent ball position is crucial.
Get the length of your belly putter right for you.
This was an absolutely vital point for my putting with the belly putter.
With a standard putter, the shaft length is a question of personal feel, but with the top of the putter fixed into your belly, getting the right length is more than just a question of comfort... it affects every part of your stroke.
If your belly putter's too short, the top end of the grip can move out from its fixed point in your stomach, so you'll lose the all-important anchor point in your belly.
If it's too long your belly will force you to scuff the sole of the putter on the green which can lead to all kinds of horrible putts - short of target, pulls pushes and even double hits! (I had a round with all of those in once when I was getting my putter to the right length and I nearly gave up golf!). That's when I started looking for good Belly Putter Instructions!
I'd love to be able to give you a formula for calculating exactly the right length for your putter, but I'm afraid nobody can do that... It simply depends on too many factors - your height, how far you like to stand from the ball and (... how can I put this politely ...?) the size of your belly.
The best advice I can give you is to enlist the help of a local pro or clubfitter (there's probably a repair job in it for them, so they should be happy to help) and go through the following exercise:
Go with your pro / clubfitter onto a green with your belly putter and a regular putter and adopt your regular stance. Then, keeping your posture the same, ask the pro / clubfitter to hand you a belly putter.
Without changing your posture, put the belly putter into your hands where it feels comfortable and see where the top of the handle reaches relative to the point where you want to "fix" it each time (see point 1 above). I always felt more comfortable with the top of the grip above my navel, but you may feel comfortable some other way.
Now lift the putter head about 1/2 inch (1cm) off the green and notice how much pressure the handle is exerting on your stomach. If it's so loose that it's going to lose contact with your belly, then you need the shaft lengthening. If on the other hand it's wedged tightly into your belly and you don't feel you could comfortably lift the putter head from the green without jabbing yourself in the stomach, then the shaft needs shortening.
How much to shorten or lengthen the shaft is a judgment call and you should leave it up to the pro / clubfitter. They're the experts after all (and you'll probably find that if they make the recommendation and it turns out to be wrong, they'll often make a re-adjustment free of charge, or for a discounted price at the very least).
So there you are... My best effort at comprehensive
belly putter instructions.
When my belly putter is working well, I feel like I can take on the world, and you just might feel the same!
Good luck putting these belly putter instructions into practice!