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« Buried Lede In The Anchoring Ban Announcement? | Main | Latest #savetheoldcourse Clippings And More Graphic Images »
Wednesday
Nov282012

Clippings: Anchoring Ban Announcement

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."

Golfweek's Jeff Babineau said a confusing game just got more confusing.

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.

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Reader Comments (23)

If the ease of the game was an issue for amateur golfers, changing the OB & lost ball rules would make much bigger difference for amateur golfers. Of course if ease of the game was an issue we'd have seen an uptick with the new drivers and the new balls over the last decade. Amateurs don't play bc of time and cost. The belly putter argument is anacdotal and specious. You're talking an incredibly small fraction who will quite over this at best (or worst). Most of us stink at the game already, that's not why we play.
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterElf
When drivers had tiny wooden heads, you realized fairly quickly that you'd have to learn to hit the ball properly. Not so with a Volkswagen on a stick. I've seen guys play decent golf chopping down on the ball, cutting across the thing substantially, squirting it into the right side of the fairway. But the comfort the over-sized driver provides might actually be holding them back. It's the same with the belly putter. There is now a breed of player who is automatic from three feet with an anchored putter, but can't lag putt worth a damn. I think I had a point there, but can't remember what it was...
11.29.2012 | Unregistered Commentergolf drunk
Maybe the teaching professionals around the country ought to look at this as a way to do something crazy, like.— oh, I don't know — give more lessons.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Smith
The funny thing is that the average handicap - male and female hasn't changed much in the last hundred years or so - unlike the pro game.
Like it or not, there has to come a time when bifurcation will happen. I won't like it, but I can see the need.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered Commentermetro18
If you thought the phone calls from the armchair dweebs for rule violations were bad now, wait until this thing kicks in.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
2016? Do it now, do it fast. Like pulling off a Band-Aid. This deadline amounts to R&A/USGA masochism, I think? The pain of a 3-year stigma to achieve sexual gratification in the form of a fat check. Unless you believe none of them have the slightest ego.

Good point, golf drunk. As a caddie in 1959 observing the the final match from the shade of a large oak on the 1st tee, with a hefty Calcutta on the line, when a scratch was allowed to be paired with a very nervous 18 and heckling was frowned upon but permitted, the drive was yanked dead-left to the oak which promptly returned it to the Judge Smails area of the offending mouth. A true gift from the Golf God's of the past. Such blessings are less frequent in the era of "VW on a stick"
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Well they had to word the new rule SOMEhow I suppose.

I'm glad they went thru with it, but in this age of HD and 3D live coverage, I bet the number of Twits reporting perceived anchoring will go up 3-fold.


As I read the rule, it boils down to bascialy so you can't anchor/brace the putter with any part of your body below the elbows...save for the classic broomstick users when they mash the forearm to their chests and let the putter swing under it.

Last note: anybody else notice that the very eloquent and to the point, Mr.Sam Torrance, never said a peep during the whole media build up...because he's never anchored his trusty long wand, he holds the top hand away from his body.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Amen, re: VW -on-a-stick.

The focus on putter length and what constitutes a "swinging motion" is laughably arbitrary when the violent, out-of-the-shoes "swinging motion" enabled by said VW technology is juxtaposed with the finesse and precision required to nurse the persimmon onto the runway.

When will these clowns figure it out? The technology horse is not just out of the barn, it's been lassoed, rendered and divvied into bottles of Elmer's.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce
@Johnny. Iv'e been waiting for someone to mention that. I'll bet Adam Scott is working on that right now.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered Commentermetro18
Question:
Why do golfers go to the long putter?

Answer: Because they can't putt as well with the short one.

I rest my case!!!!
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
Adam Scott may be or he may be whining away- he just does not have the fire in his belly(no pun intended on the belly thing)- he chokes away 4 shots at the Open and he's ok with that!?! - Torrance would have been PISSED!

Scott has one of the best swings ever- but golf is about the score total- and that includes how many putts.

@golf drunk- great post- probably.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
@Stanley Thompson

exactly...and if long putters aren't easier and have no advantage over non anchoring, then after the ban they should have no problem going back to the correct way to putt.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie
How can Couples say both that it's no advantage and that losing it will be a giant loss for Keegan Bradley?
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterG
Do people really believe that this is going to chase people away from the game of golf? Or prevent them from starting? That's is ridiculous! Only the most addicted/dedicated holders even know what a belly putter is. Ever seen one at a minigolf establishment?? That's because when average people think of golf they don't think of a broomstick. Keep golf golf and just stop all the private club nonsense and you'll see more people come to the game.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAddictedtogolf
Whether or not you agree with the decision, the claims that it will drive people from the game or discourage growth is silly. I highly doubt someone new to the game would base their decision to play on whether they could use a anchored puttin stroke or not. For newer players, putting is WAY down the list of priorities. I work with a junior golf group and spend tons of time at the range (where most newer players spend their time). The ratio of those hitting balls to theose on the practice putting green is about 100:1 (and the guy on the putting range isn't new to golf). For those new to the game, they want to A) hit the ball (not whiff), B) hit the ball far C) hit the ball straight and D) hit the ball far and straight. I've yet to hear someone get the "golf bug" by making a putt....but those one or two shots that go where intended will bring them back for more.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
The anchor ban will discourage golfers? Just like banning pot discouraged puffers? I don't think so.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
Anyone who thinks this "ban" will actually take place in 2016 ignores the guiding principle of our still (relatively) new century -- namely, "announce" that you'll do something at some point WAY in the future, and then sit back to collect as much as is humanly possible from both sides of an "issue" during the waiting/arguing period.

Government, healthcare, banking, financial market regulation, the judicial system, all politics, all media, and of course the multi-appendage professional sports conglomerates...

Instead of "let them eat cake," it's "let them eat their own words."

In a world where argument has become the currency by which "the news" profits, the maximum gain model asks for the longest wait possible prior to execution.

Call it The Ben Crane Model.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRLL
If bifurcation is such a good idea, let's lower basketball hoops for rec players; make tennis courts longer and wider. If the pros start playing a different game than the rest of us, who will really want to watch. Part of the reason we watch is to see how good these guys really are
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
Slow play is the #1 reason why I don't play more golf....unless you belong to a private club, you're talking 5 hour + rounds....18 holes should take 3 1/2 hours, or even less (and I stink, 20+ handicap).

As for any of the rules, unless we are playing in a tournament, all my friends play by our own rules...OB doesn't count for stroke and distance, for example. And we play it if we can find it (no penalty), stakes be damned!
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterManku
3 year grace period = lawsuit avoidance?
11.29.2012 | Unregistered Commentergrr
@Brad

NBA has larger courts and the 3pint line is farther back than amateurs w shorter shot clock
NFL has two feet in for catch vs one in amateur differences in hash marks and numerous other rules differences.
MLB uses wooden bats vs alumninum.

i'm actually against bifurication as far as anchoring goes but when it comes to the ball i would like to see a the driver or ball addressed strictly for the pro. i see both arguments.

Tennis, the mens game has changed where we used to see more rallies and now the serve dominates the game. They aren't adjusting the strings to slow down the serve vs amateur equip.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie
@grr - yes, exactly, lawsuits interfere with profits on both sides of the line, so the 3-yr stretch avoids that finger in the pie during the delay

@Charlie - Tennis is actually a good example. The changes in racquet eqipment have changed the game completely, even on the women's side where the bigger, more dominant servers can make matches almost unwatchable. But the regulators have responded by changing the ball, especially at Wimbledon for the pros, and on the Junior level, a slower ball forces kids to actually learn the game instead of how to just boom a big serve and forehand.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRLL
I like Sneds but trusting guys like Davis and Dawson just because they are smart guys is not.......well, smart. This is the same attitude that many of the players have with Tim Finchem: "he's so smart--he knows what he's doing". Nobody wants to challenge these guys. They don't always know what is best.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv

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