expected, the USGA and R&A are proposing to ban the anchored putting stroke
starting in 2016. My thinking is that this will be met with little resistance
because they only banned the stroke and not the equipment. Had they banned the
longer putter, the OEM’s could have joined in a lawsuit and proclaimed that the
USGA and R&A have hurt their business that they initially approved and are
now banning. But, since they are banning the stroke there is no tangible
financial loss by a person or a company and a lawsuit would be less
I do play with a belly putter that I anchor against my stomach.
However, I have only recently started using it and I am unafraid to go back to a
standard style of putting stroke that I have used since I was 11 years old.
However, I think the proposed ban is a silly overreaction to what is
more or less a fad. And once again, the USGA and R&A have listened to
popular golfers in the game instead of seeking facts in order to avoid major
holes in their arguments. More importantly, they have neglected the amateur
golfer AGAIN, the people that drive and fund the game and the respective golf
I take no issue with banning a method or a piece of
equipment, but there should be a process in place to eradicate situations like
this from happening. The long putter has been around for 20 years. The belly
putter became popular around 2001 and burned out as a fad shortly after. It was
not until Keegan Bradley won with the belly putter and Adam Scott putted better
with the long putter that the powers that be got up in arms.
years the long putter was used without any real issue. Nobody was going to a
long putter because they wanted to. And Adam Scott’s ‘improved’ putting has
netted him 143rd in Putts Gained in 2011 and 148th in 2012. What was Scott’s
best year with the putter? 2004, when he ranked 1st in Putts Gained with a
standard Scotty Cameron putter.
I have no problem is the R&A and USGA
ban a piece of equipment or a technique because it provides an ‘unfair
advantage’ that has the golfer relying less on skill. But whether they like it
or not, the best thing for golf is for the USGA and R&A to show some
evidence to the golfing public behind their reasoning. Otherwise it’s just
another irrational dictatorship that leaves the customers jaded.
like when the grooves rule came out and how that was supposed to force golfers
to focus on finding the fairway more often and make it more difficult on shots
around the green. Except that all of those key metrics have never changed. Tour
players are still favoring distance over accuracy and can still get up-and-down
the same rate as they ever could. And they can still generate spin on the wedges
by using higher spin producing shafts.
The main contradiction lies with
the banning of the stroke because it provides and advantage and requires ‘less
skill’, but this is never mentioned when it comes to the modern day titanium
driver. In 1980, the longest driver on Tour was Dan Pohl at 274.3 yards. In
2012, Bubba Watson led the Tour in driving distance of 315.5 yards. That’s a 15%
increase in distance! Think about it for a second. I hit my driver about 290
yards on a good strike. If I had a driver that gave me automatically 40-45 yards
more distance THAT would be a giant advantage. And not due to my skill
Furthermore, the increase in length off the tee has made many
excellent golf courses obsolete. These golf courses have no more room to
lengthen the course or the lengthening drastically changes the original
designer’s intent. It’s also led to what I call ‘Forced Carry Designs’ which are
pretty in nature, but lead to slow rounds of golf as golfers find themselves
hitting into hazards and having to look for golf balls. And the #1 reason why
more people play less golf these days? Not enough time due to the slow
The USGA and R&A cannot be taken seriously when they claim that
they are interested in protecting the game when they allow the modern driver to
still exist. They are more interested in protecting their authority in the game
while avoiding legal and financial turmoil. I can actually accept that, but at
least be forthcoming about it.
Of course, many golfers would not be
frustrated if the USGA and R&A would stop legalizing things like the
anchored putting stroke only to change their mind decades later. It is what got
them into trouble with PING in the 80’s, the reason why they could never attempt
to ban the titanium driver, the reason why their attempts to curb the distance
golf balls travel became a joke, the reason why they had to change the grooves
rule in order to benefit the OEM’s while screwing over the golfers and why we
are where we are today.