Titleist sheds light on building a belly putter

The length of the belly putter can vary, here the tour van works on one at 44 inches.

The length of the belly putter can vary, here the tour van works on one at 44 inches.

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With belly putters becoming all the rage on the PGA Tour, I was wondering how the equipment manufacturers were fitting players.

Not everyone is like Adam Scott, who goes to a golf shop and picks out a putter without a fitting and becomes successful.

Especially since a belly putter is so different than conventional models.

Larry Silveira, a putter expert for Titleist's Scotty Cameron putters, took me through how he fits a player for a belly putter. Though it's not rocket science, it isn't an easy process, either.

First, Silveira has the player grab the shaft of the new putter like it was a normal-length putter and then extend the shaft up to the belly. Since the player is not changing his posture very much, the approach generally works well as a starting point.

This easily can be done by the fitting system that extends the length of the shaft to properly fit the players.

Once the length is fixed, the player then can pick the proper head and adjust the weights as necessary for feel and balance. There are limited heads available for belly or long putters. In discussions with various manufacturers, more putter-head variety is a priority in 2012.

Despite the growing popularity of belly putters in the public, the amount of heads available to them usually is limited by many manufacturers.

As for the weight in the putter head, this also is a key variable. In the case of the Scotty Cameron heads, the adjustments can be made only in a Cameron studio.

After the length and head are determined, adjustments to loft and lie are next, followed by a trip to the putting green to test out the new putter.

“A lot of guys, they're not necessarily in their belly; they kind of float it a little bit,” Silveira said of how the putter shaft sits. “Most of the guys float it a little bit in front of their belly because typically what happens is a guy that puts the ball up forward, so if you try to get this in your belly, your ball is going to be positioned way back. Some guys anchor it in there pretty hard, and then some guys just let it barely touch the skin.”

One of the benefits of the fitting system is it allows for experimentation by the player to get the best feel.

The adjustable shaft will go from 41 inches to a little more than 49 inches. With end cap and grip, the putter can even extend a little longer, if necessary.

Because of the demand of belly putters, the tour van is not receiving any finished belly putters, but just shafts that can be cut down to the desired length.

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