I'm beginning to think the anchoring ban was a clever ploy by the governing bodies to unlock previously muted opinions on the distance issue!
Royal and Ancient Golf Club member Michael Bamberger is the latest to note the Old Course changes with little enthusiasm but says "the real problem is that the R&A/USGA have consistently lacked a 'staff futurist' to anticipate how various issues would spiral."
The R&USGA should be focused on how to make courses far shorter and easier to maintain. As modern layouts approach 8,000 yards, maintenance becomes incredibly expensive (a cost that's passed on to golfers), and the courses become excessively punitive and excruciating slow.
So, where to start? Brown, for starters, should truly be the new green. Augusta National, ridiculously verdant, sets a terrible example in this regard.
But where the governing bodies absolutely blew it was by allowing big-headed titanium drivers almost 20 years ago. It's because Dustin Johnson can use modern weaponry to drive the ball 370 yards that the Old Course is getting these pointless renovations.
And add him to the bifurcation camp.
The modern ball, coming off the face of the modern driver, flies way too far for golfers on TV trying to break 60. But it doesn't for us, shooting our newspaper 89s. The solution is two sets of rules. Rory and Co. should have a ball they can call their own. Bifurcation. That's the word they don't want us to use.
An unbylined FayObserver.com story talks to club pros and everyday golfers. Guess what, they are saying the same thing.
"I think it's kind of dumb," said pro golfer Chip Lynn of Lillington. "There's a lot of other stuff that they could ban that affects the game more."
Lynn is a former Fayetteville State golfer who now plays on the Egolf Tour and got through the first round of PGA Tour qualifying this year. He said he tried a belly putter in "six or seven events" this year and found it didn't help him.
"I didn't putt any better," he said. "I don't think the belly putter gives you that much more advantage. I didn't notice anything different. My putts weren't better during the round."
Lynn said technology has affected the game more than anchored putters.
"I agree with Webb Simpson who said there are a lot more things that have affected the game than just the belly putter," he said. "I don't think it's that big of a deal.
"If you're going to change that rule, you probably need to do something about the balls, the driver heads and the technology that has really affected the game instead of the belly putters."
And Adam Scott continued to press his case on this theme Wednesday, asking for some consistency from the governing bodies
Maybe, just maybe, all of this crying out for a distance solution was part of the plan to start with when the anchoring ban came about? I know, they aren't that clever. But the unintended consequences of screwing with the Old Course and moving first on anchoring could ultimately work out in the favor of the governing bodies.
**Thanks to reader PMDF6 for this Frank Deford NPR commentary on the same theme. The link includes an audio version of DeFord reading it.
Now understand, modern golfers have kryptonite drivers with club heads as large as prize pumpkins, and steroid balls that would not pass the drug test, even if the hapless International Cycling Union were doing the random sampling.
Golfers are slugging the dimpled rockets so far that all sorts of classic courses have had to be lengthened — even the sacred Old Course at St. Andrews. This is like if baseball bats and balls had been supercharged so much that Bud Selig decreed that now it had to be 100 feet instead of 90 between bases.
But never mind the bazooka transcontinental drives. No. The golf honchos have issues with the little itty-bitty part of the game called putting. If the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient were in charge of nuclear proliferation, they would handle things by legislating the size of bayonets.