After reading a nice variety of commentaries, Tweets and reader emails (including a few who shared the letters they are sending to Golf House explaining why they are ending their USGA memberships), I feel the governing bodies did an excellent job presenting the anchoring ban.
They crafted sound language to define anchoring, they educated key figures about the ban, they used the Golf Channel to further their goal of getting their message out and sold the ban as well as they could for two organizations who traditionally see "marketing" as beneath them.
Unfortunately, they are introducing the ban at a time the game is hurting and by their own admission a situation created by the increasing cost, time to play and difficulty. Which everyone knows was not helped by the failure to clamp down on the distance chase. It's fascinating to see how many people brought this point up in questioning the ban or in suggesting that it's time to bifurcate the rules for professionals and amateurs.
Doug Ferguson filed a follow up to the first story that went out on the wires and if you didn't read some of the coverage Wednesday, you'll want to check this out to get the primary points along with some players observations. Besides noting that Tiger Woods wanted no part of commenting on the ban, he offered Fred Couples' take.
Fred Couples, the 53-year-old former Masters champion, uses a belly putter, though it rests against his stomach—it is not anchored—and the end of the club moves freely. He was not sure if that would be allowed, and he wasn't sure golf needed such a rule anyway. Couples' argument is that if the anchored stroke was that much of an advantage, everyone would be using it.
None of the top 20 players on the PGA Tour's most reliable putting statistic used an anchored putting stroke.
"In my opinion, they haven't screwed up golf yet, and I don't think this will screw it up," Couples said. "But I feel bad for Keegan Bradley, because I'll tell you what: If they banned it tomorrow and we played a tournament, I think I'll be a better player than Keegan. And I don't think that's fair."
Will I have to call a two-stroke infraction on a fellow competitor in the member-guest whom I suspect is anchoring? Do the players who won majors with long putters, though perfectly within the rules, now boast accomplishments that are somewhat tarnished? Will a player who continues to anchor right up until the ban becomes official on Jan. 1, 2016, be viewed by fans as a “cheater,” or as doing something untoward?
These all are questions we’ll be forced to answer after yet another muddled mess of making a very confusing game all the more complicated. Our sport yearns for more participation, and governing bodies acknowledge this game needs to be more fun. So why implement something that will chase golfers away?
Here's a handy GolfDigest.com guide compiled by Mike Stachura, E. Michael Johnson, and John Strege covers a full gamut of industry reaction, ranging from manufacturers to tours to players. They included this from Brandt Snedeker:
This rule has not been made because three guys won majors; this rule has been made because there's a generation of golfers who have never had a short putter and is that the way the game of golf is supposed to go? That's not up for me, Keegan Bradley, me, Brad Faxon to decide. I wish it was because it would be an easy decision for me. So I think, I say this all the time, we as Tour pros, we all think we're very, very smart. We're not when it comes to governing the game of golf. We have no clue how to do that. The USGA and the R&A do. Peter Dawson and Mike Davis are extremely intelligent people. They know what they're doing when it comes to the game of golf. I trust them implicitly, 100 percent, whatever they decide to do, and I think that's the way the game of golf should be.
Mark Lamport-Stokes offers a similar wrap up focusing in on the field at Tiger's World Challenge, where play kicks off Thursday at Sherwood CC. Noted belly putterers Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley are in the field. He included this from Graeme McDowell:
"It was the only decision that could be made, and no one is really all that surprised," he told reporters after taking part in Wednesday's pro-am competition.
"It's a very considered and intelligent sort of decision, I think, from the R&A and the USGA. It's the right call. This is an 'integrity of the putting stroke' issue.
Jessica Marksbury talked to players at Sherwood as well and both Mark O'Meara and Bubba Watson questioned the three-year grace period. O'Meara:
Mark O'Meara: "I've always felt like it was probably a little bit of an advantage when you can anchor a putter somewhere against your body, so it's almost like a teaching aid, so I don't have a problem with [the ruling]. I think it's probably the right call. But I don't know about [the three-year grace period]. I'd put it in effect right away. If you're going to make a call, let's not go with a 'fiscal cliff' deal. Let's just make the call. Maybe a one-year grace period, but not three years."
Alex Miceli sheds light on the brewing battle between the PGA of America and the USGA over anchoring.
Two weeks ago at the PGA of America’s annual meeting in Baltimore, USGA executive director Mike Davis made a presentation regarding his organization's stance on anchoring and the proposal to ban it.
That presentation, subsequent discussions among the PGA's officers and board members and the eventual results of the poll precipitated a letter being drafted on the eve of the anchoring announcement from Bishop to USGA president Glen Nager and Davis outlining the PGA's concerns.
"As Mike (Davis) mentioned in his presentation to us at our PGA Annual Meeting in Baltimore earlier this month, there does not appear to be any data that suggests that anchoring a golf club results in an unfair competitive advantage,” Bishop said in his letter, dated Nov. 27. “In the absence of such data and based on the polling of our PGA members and all of the exciting progress the industry has made through Golf 2.0 and other related initiatives to make the game more fun and, quite frankly, more enjoyable and welcoming to a broader and more diverse audience, we respectfully ask you to consider our concerns.”
Johnny Miller's reaction to the announcement on Golf Central included this quote: “I don’t have anything against, quote-unquote, banning. But when you are not able to anchor the putter when you’ve got the yips, boy that takes a lot of the goodness away from the long putter.”
Greg Norman supported the bifurcation case made by Brandel Chamblee and Johnny Miller.
"I agree with them (Chamblee and Miller) 100 percent. It should be bifurcated…We are in a position in this sport where we generate a lot of interest no matter what we do, from an economic standpoint or from a manufacturing standpoint. These players move the needle and so we have to be able to make sure we move the needle in the right direction. Bifurcation is the right thing to do.”
The GeoffShackelford.com readers poll, entirely unscientific but still handy (thanks for voting): 65% said you support the proposed 14-1b rule banning anchoring, just 29% are opposed with nearly 1100 votes cast.
And finally, golf.com rounds up the Tweets of the day, including a classic baby picture from Rory McIlroy who declared it the first and last time he used a belly putter.