Although they had been around for years, belly putters and long putters came into vogue after Keegan Bradley won last year’s HB Byron Nelson Championship and followed it up with the PGA Championship. Bradley, in fact, is the only player ever to win a major championship with a belly putter or long putter. In his case, a 43-inch Odyssey White Hot putter.
And while there has been considerable hoopla about the longer putters on the PGA Tour and at retail, if we are to believe some equipment companies, the long sticks have won only two times on Tour this year. Matt Kuchar was the latest with a 44.4-inch Rife belly putter at this past week’s Players Championship. Carl Pettersson won the RBC Heritage last month with a 49-inch Nike Method putter.
The U.S. Golf Association and Royal and Ancient Golf Club each have said they are looking into the futures of belly putters and long putters. And that’s fine with Bradley.
“I respect the USGA and the R&A, whatever decision they make,” Bradley said at this week’s Byron Nelson Championship. “I don’t make the rules of golf so I can’t decide whether or not they should be legal. If they say they’re illegal one day, I won’t use it, but for now they are legal so I will use it.
“I have put years of my life into that putter and I know a lot of guys have. If it does come a day where they think it’s illegal, I respect that decision. For now I’m happy to use it.”