The Telegraph
Friday , November 30 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Change is not a body blow

Lahiri (top) and Gangjee

Calcutta: The R&A and United States Golf Association have decided to outlaw the anchoring of clubs to the body from January 2016.

But Anirban Lahiri and Rahil Gangjee, two prominent Indian golfers, who use their belly as the fulcrum while putting, do not think it’s a body blow. “I came to know about the new rule late on Wednesday… We still have four years. Switching to the short putt will not be a problem for me,” Lahiri told The Telegraph on Thursday.

Lahiri had started to use his belly as the fulcrum only last year. “It is a long story... My dad (Dr. Col Tushar Lahiri) coaxed me to use this new style. I had a few rounds of putting with my coach (Vijay Diwecha) and I felt comfortable,” Anirban said, on the sidelines of the second day action at the McLeod Russel Tour Championship.

Anirban for the record, used the belly putt during the British Open. “Yeah I used it... The greens are a lot more faster in Europe. It definitely helps,” he said.

Traditionalists have argued that long putters are against the spirit of the game because, by ‘anchoring’ them to the body, they reduce the effect of nerves and provide a built-in pendulum motion, ironing out shakes and twitches in the process.

“There is minimum use of the wrist… It’s all about the shoulder. But here, in India, most of the professionals are comfortable with the short putt. Belly or broom-handled putting is hardly prevalent in India,” Uttam Singh Mundy, Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) director (operations), said.

Mundy also agreed that four-year period is a good time for the putters to adapt. “I have not gone through the R&A-United States Golf Association ruling in details… But since most of our players play abroad on the European, Japanese and Asian Tours, we will follow the rule,” he said.

Lt Col Ajay Singh (retd), secretary and director Indian Golf Union (IGU), also felt it’s too early to react. “We still have four years… We’ll take a call on whether to ask the amateurs to desist from using the belly only after deliberations. But the juniors generally prefer the conventional grip,” he said from New Delhi.

Gangjee, who started using the belly as an anchor during his Nationwide stint, said he got into the “belly mood” six months back. “My putting improved... But I don’t think guys who are using the body are getting an advantage. Even guys who hit short putt practice body-putting at the range. I have seen this in the US… So switching from the long stick to the free swing will not be a big deal,” he said.

SSP Chowrasia agrees with Gangjee. “I also tried to use the long stick... But I was not comfortable. It’s a personal choice at the end of the day. I do not agree that it gives the belly-putters an advantage… It’s not like that. It’s all about skill,” he said.