Belly and Chest Putter - Trendy or Here to Stay?

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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There is no doubt that Adam Scotts resurgence to form with the chest putter and Keegan Bradley’s PGA Championship victory with the belly putter have got critics talking again.  Outlaw these alternate putting styles or let them be? That is the million dollar question. 

Why do so many golfers resurrect their career with a belly or long putter? Players that come to mind are Scott, Couples, Singh, Mediate and Els. Oh yeah, Keegan Bradley uses the belly putter as well, but he has been using it since his college days at St. Johns. 

There are a few reasons why these longer putters work more efficiently than short putters.   The reality is most (not all) of the players on tour that go to this style of putter do so because they have inherited the yips. A perfect example of this is Bernard Langer. It is well documented that Langer’s affliction with this ailment occurred at a young age.  He wouldn’t have had the career he has without the use of the chest putter.

How do the yips work?
This disease afflicts many golfers and some don’t even know they have it. A putting yip is an uncontrollable non-conscious movement with one hand or both hands, usually occurring just before impact. It has to deal with neuro pathways. There have been many people who have studied this topic but the most compelling data, in my opinion, has come from Hank Haney and a team of German doctors. You can read all about it in his book, “Fix the Yips Forever”. 

When a player goes to an alternative grip, such as the claw or pencil grip or to a belly or chest putter, the pathway from the brain to the yip hand is recreated. It is literally a rewiring of the brain and in almost every case the yip goes away. Sometimes forever or sometimes just for a few months. Regardless, the player is able to perform better on the greens, thus making more putts and shooting lower scores.

If you feel like you might have the yips, the good news is it is treatable. You just have to identify which hand you have it in and then reformat your grip with that hand on the putter grip. 

Feel like you have the yips? Email John at with comments or questions.

John Stahlschmidt is the Head Instructor at TPC Scottsdale, Home of the Waste management Phoenix Open.