Long Belly or Conventional Putter


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Dear Frank,
I purchased a 2-Ball Odyssey belly putter and, after using it and reading your advice column, would like to cut it down. How do I do this? Do I need to go to a pro shop or a hardware store?

My feeling is that the long and belly putters are an alternative choice for those golfers who have putting problems. I prefer to try and fix the problem rather than apply a brace to it. In some cases, a brace is the only way a golfer can participate and enjoy the game and build the all-important confidence in his or her stroke.
I recently had a middle-aged golfer ' an advocate of the long putter ' visit our Putting Studio in Orlando. He was struggling with the shakes, so I suggested he try a standard-length putter. He was certainly as good with a short putter as with the long version, but didnt feel comfortable using it, so we went back to the putter he had the most confidence in ' the long putter.
We were able custom-fit him to the correct length in a Frankly Frog Putter and then fine-tune his stroke, to where he was sinking almost all his putts. Both the video analysis and the kinematic analysis confirmed that the new stroke we developed was superior to his older style. We then worked on his pre-shot routine ' a little bit of sports psychology was required ' and this reinforced his confidence and gave him another degree of comfort on the green.
I am not as comfortable working with a belly putter because it is a hybrid swing pivoting about two axes ' one for the putter, centered about the belly axis, and a second for the hands centered about the neck axis. This allows for unwanted errors and does not allow the body to swing in its natural manner.
For this reason, Steve, I endorse your decision to cut down your belly putter to a conventional length. Make sure, however, you cut it to the correct length, which should allow you to keep your arms reasonably straight and relaxed when you are in your normal address position, eyes directly over the ball.
I would recommend this not be done at the hardware store, which will not have grips available (the friendly hardware man may try to substitute a section of garden hose); rather, go to a professional club fitter or a pro who has the equipment to cut and re-grip.
You do understand that close to 45 percent of your score is generated on the putting green? So it is important to select a good putter. We can help you make the correct selection and walk you through the fitting process on the phone. Give us a call at (407) 396-4004 or visit us online. I think you'll be surprised how a well-fitted putter and the personal support of our Frog Specialists can reduce your scores and allow you to have more fun on the green.
Hope this helps.
' Frank

Are Your Clubs Too Long?

I have enjoyed your questions and answers column for some time. You have mentioned choking down on the driver an inch or two for control, much as Anthony Kim does. I have tried this and it works great. However, I find that I slowly go back to holding the club at full length without realizing it. What is the effect of me shortening the shaft?
I should say that I have always been fitted with irons that are 1-plus inch over standard length, as I am very tall. I went with standard-length shafts in my most recent set and find my accuracy has improved without any noticeable loss of distance.

Thank you for the kind words about my column.
First, let me tell you that I carry a 5-handicap, stand almost 6-foot-3 in my golf shoes, and am reasonably well proportioned ' i.e., my arms are not extraordinarily long ' and find that a standard-length set of irons works well for my accuracy and control. Many years ago, I tried a half-inch longer iron set, but this didnt set off any fireworks in my game.
We know that with shorter clubs we have greater accuracy and better distance control. You have probably experienced this when comparing the performance of a fairway wood to a hybrid with identical lofts. In general, the fairway wood (about 42.5 inches long) will hit the ball a little farther with a slightly higher trajectory but with less control than the hybrid (about 40.5 inches long).
One of the major reasons for the differences in control is the length of the two clubs. The fairway wood is about two inches longer than the hybrid. The comparably lofted iron is about 39 inches in length, not very forgiving and hard to use for most of us mortals.
Because the hybrid is so much more forgiving than the iron it is the preferred club ' even though it is a little longer ' both for control and a little increase in distance.
When it comes to drivers, we have been suckered into buying 45-plus and 46-inch long clubs ' some of which should come with a snake-bite kit. Some of the claims of increased distance are confirmed by the occasional super long drive ' this comes with bragging rights for a week or so ' but this can hardly make up for the loss in control and the frequent trips into the woods for most of the other strays.
Tour players seem to select drivers which are, on average, a little shorter than 45 inches. In Anthony Kims case, he chokes down even more to get the combination of distance and accuracy he finds is most effective.
The reason why I suggested that you choke down on your long driver was to get more control, but at the same time, remind yourself that that you are not trying to hit a home run. This will allow you to keep your swing under control and get better-than-average distance.
By shortening your driver, you will not be able to feel any significant differences in the dynamics of the club compared to when you choked down to the same point. The swing weight scale will reflect the change as will the frequency because of the shorter club. The only concern I have is that you will always be gripping the driver at the end, and will have nothing to remind yourself not to give it that wicked 110-percent Full Monty.
Good luck and 'swing easy.'
' Frank
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Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to helping golfers. Frank is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email letsbefrank@franklygolf.com
Frank Thomas