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First Anchoring Ban Question: Where Was The Data?

The USGA and R&A did an excellent job presenting their case both verbally and visually for the anchoring band. But I think many of us were anticipating some meaty empirical data to back up the USGA's case that players switching to this method have benefitted.

Graeme McDowell had suggested from his conversation with the USGA's Mike Davis that there would be data to back up the argument for this ban. (Brandel Chamblee had more empirical data on Golf Channel than the governing bodies presented and I hope to get that video up later.)

Randall Mell touched on this topic:

The USGA cites no controlled studies or experiments or research to support its argument that a new definition of a stroke is needed, and that will make the decision feel arbitrary to critics. It’s the Justice Potter Stewart deal. The USGA and R&A know wrong when they see it, and they saw the game changing quickly in ways they don’t like.

The lone data seems to be this, noted by Mike Stachura.

He also pointed to usage data that suggested belly and long putters were used by three to four percent of tour players from the 1980s through the mid-2000s before a sudden upsurge.

Davis said that in 2011 the number was 11 percent, and in 2012 it was 15 percent, and as high as 20 or 25 percent in some events. More importantly, Davis said, "in the junior game, where we've seen virtually no anchoring before, all of a sudden it's started to appear. And that caused us to say, 'Is this what we really want the game of golf to be in the future?' We came to the conclusion that fundamentally that's not part of golf."

Is this enough data to make the case?

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Reader Comments (15)

Sounds to me like if it's 20 to 25 percent usage in some Tour events and juniors are starting to is, then anchoring has become part of the game
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Pike
Do we really need data? It would just muddy the basis for the new definition of a swing/stroke. I for one am glad they are taking a stand in the sand and am hopeful the ball and driver head sizes come next.
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
The USGA/R&A will be walking a slippery slope if they try to reduce the size of club heads and roll back the golf ball. You can't take things back you're already allowed. The two ruling bodies live in constant fear of lawsuits. Reducing club head size rolling back the Overall Distance Standard on ball likely will result in a huge legal battle on each front.
11.28.2012 | Unregistered Commentersteve pike
So little data offered other than a growing use among good players.

Imagine golf banning something based on how it looks? Shocking given the history of the game
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPat Burke
Amen Corner beat me to it.

"Where is the data?" is an interesting question, and perhaps even a good question. But does it matter? Personally, I didn't need any data to decide that I thought it ridiculous that any anchoring would have been permitted in the first place. The USGA didn't need any data to ban Sam Snead's croquet style. What data could there have been, apart from Snead himself?

The game of golf doesn't need data to protect its aesthetic qualities. Particularly when "aesthetics" are so hard to quantify.

Heck, if data ruled all, the golf ball would have been rolled back ten years ago.
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
If the USGA wants to ban something on the way it looks, it should ban Loudmouth pants.
11.28.2012 | Unregistered Commentersteve pike
You can change things- take them back-reduce the size-limit the ball.

Baseball changes field dimensions in over a park a year (MLB) I am not that familiar with football, but I do know that definitions of a legal tackle have changed-basketball~who cares?- and golf - the grip- the size of the ball, etc, etc things were allowed are are no longer allowed.

And So it is that -correctly- the governing bodies see young players starting golf with this method, and they are reeling it in.

When they realize that the pro game has effed up the real game, then maybe it will all get better. I for one, am pretty tired of wasting energy on all of this. I am hoping to implement some real action in the next few months- we'll see how life and health treat me.

But for this-the anchoring- -boo~ya! glad yall balls'd up! and did the right thing.

And if all the dits- that is the golf pundits would look at the ''allowed'' photos, they would see that the clubs in use can still be used pretty damn easily.

Now, if the could just undo the damage done at TOC.
11.28.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Steve Pike:
"The USGA/R&A will be walking a slippery slope if they try to reduce the size of club heads and roll back the golf ball. You can't take things back you're already allowed. The two ruling bodies live in constant fear of lawsuits. Reducing club head size rolling back the Overall Distance Standard on ball likely will result in a huge legal battle on each front."

Steve, I wouldn't call it a "slippery slope." A slippery slope would imply a slide towards more and more regulation until over-regulation became a problem. I don't see that at all. The USGA is playing catch-up.

I agree with one idea; any changes to the rules on clubs are a problem, insofar as recreational players spend a lot of money and time on selecting clubs, purchasing them and getting used to them. That is precisely why a golf ball rollback would have been a better option, a long time ago. Balls are cheap, fungible and the least-memorable and least-aesthetic part of the game.

But we've seen the pattern, with the groove rules. Phased in over time, for differing levels of play. So that recreational players are not suddenly deprived a favorite club. A reduction in driver clubhead size could be handled the same way. A reduction for tour players right away, with elite amateurs (many of whom get equipment for free, thanks to the USGA's accomodation) later, and lastly (if ever) recreational players.
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
"Is this enough data to make the case?'

yes...sometimes common sense is the best data
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
I don't disagree with the decision, but it brings to mind this imagined exchange from the year 1912:

Lieutenant Henry Tingle Wilde: Captain Smith, I told you we were going too fast for conditions!

Captain Edward John Smith: Whatever.
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG

So, your biggest problem is that they waited so long? You would have been fine if they had banned them from the start?
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHilltop
I'm still of the opinion that the gains they might give in short putting are counteracted by loss of control in long putting, the way switching from a ball that spins to a ball that doesn't can provide changes in distance, so I'm still not convinced this was a change that needed to happen.

That said, I've always been good at putting the traditional way, and always view opponents in matches who use long putters as intrinsically weak putters who can be exploited, so this is no big deal to me except that I will have to watch them suck at putting before deciding they do.
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe O
You want data?

Golf is in trouble & losing players. There's data showing that.

So, why make more rules that will drive away more people?

On one side, you have cuckoos who want 2 foot wide holes to make it easy. On the other you have the USGA making up more rules to make it hard.

It ain't broken.....
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBud
So you take a guy that usually shots 85, worst case now he shoots 95? that is going to make him stop playing? I play with a large group of guys that anything in the low 90s is pretty darn good - and everybody loves the game, we can't get out enough (which being mid 40s dads is not that often). so maybe some of these weekend warrior guys that thinks he one step from the pros because he contends for the club championship is upset? Fine - having fun is not dependant on how many guys you can beat. get over it.
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian S
Brian, two members of our club with back issues, and yes
yippy issues have said it would make them play significantly less.
Obviously, we'll see, but i absolutely believe there are people who
will play less without their anchors
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPat Burke

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