NPR logo

Navel-Gazing: Why Golf Should Embrace Belly Putters

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Navel-Gazing: Why Golf Should Embrace Belly Putters

Navel-Gazing: Why Golf Should Embrace Belly Putters

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Alright, so hockey fans could have to live without their season. Pro golfers are going to be living without something, because professional golf has banned what's known as the belly putter.

Commentator Frank Deford thinks this was a mistake.

FRANK DEFORD: When did issues become such an all-purpose, often euphemistic word for anything disagreeable? We have issues, now, where we used to have problems and concerns and troubles and hornet's nests. Like, for example, the American and British big wheels who run golf have issues with putting.

Now understand, modern golfers have kryptonite drivers with club-heads as large as prized pumpkins. Golfers are slugging the dimpled rockets so far that all sorts of classic courses have had to be lengthened - even the sacred Old Course at St. Andrews. This is like if baseball bats and balls had been super-charged so much that Bud Selig decreed that now it had to be a hundred feet instead of 90 between bases.

But never mind the bazooka transcontinental drives. No, the golf honchos have issues with the little, itty-bitty part of the game called putting. If the U.S. Golf Association and The Royal and Ancient were in charge of nuclear proliferation, they would handle things by legislating the size of bayonets.

The issue is what are called belly putters, which certainly is an ugly name, but nomenclature is not the issue here. What is, is that golfers employ these belly putters by stabilizing them against their gut, their pot, their tummy, their corporation. The golf Solomons have decreed that anchoring your putter against a substantial body part is just not proper golf. Plus, it looks wimpy - you got to stroke.

Now, even the best golfers, especially the graybeards who get what are called the yips on the green, have been monkeying around with various desperate putting styles forever. Even the great Sam Snead experimented with croquet-like putts a half-century ago. But so many unconventional putting styles were deemed legitimate because the golfers were stroking with their arms. Presumably you could putt with a pool cue or a bolero. You just can't belly up to the ball.

Golfers have never looked as athletic as other, uh, athletes. So why aesthetics are suddenly an issue is a mystery. Especially this is true because golf costs so much and takes so long, that it's having trouble attracting new, young players.

But the fact is, a great many golfers are distinguished by what? By their bellies. Hey, go with what you got. It's really the equivalent of the dumb decision in 1967 when the NCAA outlawed dunking because basketball attracts tall players who used their height to dunk.

That was so stupid that it was a slam dunk that basketball would change the rule back, which it did. Likewise, it should be a gimme for the bodies who run golf to stomach bellies.


GREENE: It's a a-gimme commentator Frank Deford will be here every Wednesday. He joins us from member station WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut.

And you're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.