It’s not quite accurate to call Padraig Harrington a prophet of doom in regards to the future of belly putters, but the Irishman sure sounds close. Harrington, a three-time major champion, doesn’t use a belly putter and talks as if he wishes they didn’t exist.
“I think at the end of the day, if we started fresh tomorrow and somebody tried to get the belly putter passed, not a chance,” Harrington said today at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. “It got in there 20 years ago when the players who went to it were – certainly the established players who went to it – were great players, nice guys, and nobody wants to end their careers and say, ‘No, we’re not letting you.’ They all just said, ‘Look, go on, it’s okay.’”
Harrington said he believes “it’s inevitable” the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland, will rule on belly putters and players anchoring the putters to their bodies.
“If somebody was asking for a ruling tomorrow and we’d never seen it before, there’s no way it would get by,” Harrington said. “But obviously it’s in there now.”
But for how long (pardon the pun) is the big question.
“It’s inevitable it’s going to get changed,” Harrington said. “I think the rules aficionados have a few other things. They have priorities and they understand when it comes to the Rules of Golf, it ain’t that easy just to go and change them all at once.
We had this conversation last year. It certainly wasn’t anywhere near as high on the radar with the rules a year ago. They’re more concerned about the ball going far, the driver going far. “
Indeed, more players and officials are focusing on belly putters this year, which Harrington said, raises some issues – at least for him.
“If the standard of putting goes up because of it, that actually puts more pressure on people who aren’t using it,” Harrington said. “It has a negative effect on the people who aren’t using it as well as a positive effect on the people who are using it, just to the extent if somebody else is using it and you think they might be getting a benefit. I don’t use a belly putter, so it would suit me if it’s banned.”