The Local Knowlege

Gear & Equipment

The long goodbye?

By E. Michael Johnson

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Swept away: Putter sales fell 21 percent in December. Photo by: Dom Furore

When the proposal to ban anchoring was announced last year, many wondered what effect it would have on sales of belly putters and their use on tour. Early data suggest it has had a chilling effect. Sales of all putters in December fell 21.1 percent versus the same month in 2011, marking the largest decline in putter sales since Golf Datatech began tracking them in 1997. It's important to note that sales in December 2011 enjoyed a spike because golfers were in a frantic rush to buy belly putters, spurred by Keegan Bradley's win at the PGA. That increase makes this December's numbers look worse by comparison.

On tour, there's no denying the influence. As many as 25 long/belly putters were in use at several events last season. Early in 2013, that number has tumbled. At the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, just six pros used one. At the Northern Trust Open and Match Play, 12 different players went longer than standard.