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Tips from the Tour: 'The simplicity of Belly Putting'
By LET professional Sophie Gustafson
August 14, 2012

I know there's a lot of debate at the moment about the use of the belly putter and that the R&A and golf's governing bodies are looking into potentially banning it, but it has totally transformed my putting stroke. It would be a shame for that to be taken away but ultimately I'd be OK with any decision they make and I respect their rules. As for the technique of using a belly putter it is so simple, here's how I make my stroke.

•  I start by resting the butt of the putter grip into my belly putter. With the grip comfortably in place I add my hands, using the same traditional left below right grip that I used with a standard length putter and keeping my grip pressure light. Notice how stable and solid I look at address with just a little flex in the knees. My stance is the same width as my shoulders giving me that great symmetry and stability.

•  From my solid address all I have to do is initiate the stroke with the movement (some might say rocking) of the shoulders. I try to keep the putterhead nice and low to the ground and simply let the shaft of the putter swing away like a pendulum. I focus on feeling great rhythm and tempo as the putter swings tick-tock like a clock.

•  The throughswing is a smooth acceleration of that same rocking motion that took the putter away. This time there is no restriction on the length of my swing, I let it go in a free-flowing action so that the putter strikes the ball with great acceleration. I find that this puts a really smooth roll on the ball. Once the ball has left the putterface I allow my head to tilt fractionally so that I can watch the putt track to the hole and drop.

Hands free: The biggest benefit of using a belly (or mid length putter as they are also known) is that it helps take the hands out of the putting action. Hand interference is the biggest cause of inconsistent putting. Many golfers suffer with involuntary twitches or nerves get the better of them and their hands take over. The belly putter really does prevent this as you can't swing the putter with the hands at all, only the bigger muscles in the shoulders and arms can control it.

Eyes over the ball: I like to use a putting mirror when I'm practising so that I can check that my eye-line is in the correct position directly over the golf ball. You could draw a straight line from my eyes and see that they look down straight on top of the golf ball here and that's what I can see in the mirror. It gives me the confidence to know that the line of the putt I am visualising is correct. I can also follow the simple straight lines drawn on this putting training aid to help me rock the putter back and through on a perfect path.

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