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Els On Anchoring: "Ban it."

Ernie Els visited the Northern Trust Open media center today to talk about his foundation and golf at Riviera this week. He opened the door for me to ask a long putter/anchoring question.

Q.  You mentioned the short putter.  The USGA has said they're taking a fresh look at the belly putter, long putter, anchoring.  Do you welcome that?  What do you think about that?

ERNIE ELS:  Yeah, I think so.  Although I've used it, I've used it for, what, six months now, I feel the same as most of the traditionalists.  I feel that no club should be anchored to your body.  I don't know how they're going to go around it, maybe use a putter as long as you want as long as it's not anchored to your body any way, even up your arm.  You see a lot of the guys use it in their armpits now.

Nothing should be anchored to your body, and I believe‑‑ I still believe that.  I was in such a state that I felt that I needed to change something, which I did.  I went to the belly.  It hasn't really helped me that much, but it has helped me.  But I'm for it.  Ban it.  It's fine.

If you haven't listened to it yet, this week's State of the Game podcast focuses on the belly putter and it's a great listen.

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Reader Comments (27)

did this guy make the match play? oh......
02.14.2012 | Unregistered Commentersmails
Timing and odds on an anchoring ban? Is it seriously a possibility?

I listened to the podcast and they made reference to USGA commentary about having a war chest for "potential litigation", suggested that it was the first they'd ever heard of that sort of talk. Guess this could get pretty interesting?
02.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDel the Funk
The Podcast was great...lots of insight...especially from Craig Spence and his experiences.

Better to ban it soon...than later. Like ripping off an bandaid...hurts more the longer it takes to remove it.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Defining anchoring may be an issue. Perhaps, at address, no part of the player, other than his or her hands, may come in contact with the grip of the club for the purpose of making a stroke? This would eliminate the "brace" position once used by Langer
02.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenterhh morant
They don't have to ban the belly or long putter, just the anchoring part. So if someone wants to use one of them with just their hands...then they would be OK. I'm no lawyer, but if you don't specifically ban a piece of equipment, is there really grounds for a lawsuit?
02.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
kudso to Ernie...he seems like a cool guy to have beers with
02.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenterchicago pt
Steve: I agree with you, but it would be very tough to legislate a specific way or "style" of putting.

As far as my opinion about how a ban goes forward is as follows:

1) Only 2 parts of the body can touch the club and the hands have to be BELOW the beltline before starting the stroke (allowing for uneven or irregular slopes in certain Decisions Book)

2) USGA rules (as it should have done awhile ago) that anchoring the putter in any way is a teaching aid and cannot be allowed in official tournament or rounds for hdcp purposes.

3) The PGA Tour invokes a local rule forbidding their use while giving pros who are currently anchoring a 12-month grace period (in order to learn how to putt w/out a mechanical hinge built into their technique)

That's it That's my soapbox!
02.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Limit length to 38 inches.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAK47
So wait, he's against anchoring the belly putter but he's ok with using it now? Even though it hasn't helped that much but it has helped? Everyone gets that when you want something banned you shouldn't use that thing that you want banned correct? I love these pro's who talk about being traditionalists in between putts with their belly putters.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenterhutzz
Eliminate anchoring, and set the maximum length at 40 inches.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSquire
The Big Easy is big correct. If the on-line putting method once used by Sam Snead was banned, then we have precidence for banning a method that is currently popular. The anchoring method is contary to the spirit and concept of golf. The club should be attached to the body by the HANDS ONLY, period. The idea for limiting the length of the putter, and other approaches are illogical.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDriveForShow
BTW, if the maximum length of a driver is 46 inches, then that should be the maximum length for the putter.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDriveForShow
@AK47: a Max length of 38" would have left Ray Floyd SOL....length limits can't be would Kareem be able to practice without regular back spasms? Hand only and have to start below the belt is a relatively simple way to go...after all, we all have hip bones (no disrespect to amputees!).

It's a tough call...but PLEASE can there be a definite answer or solution. I don't want to have to retro fit custom long putters to jr golfers everytime they grow an inch in height...come to think about wonder the club manufacturers are against a ban.

I have used a 39" putter in a tourney before...helped me stand taller and see the line, but there was no Cabrerra did at the Masters. Still...longer shaft IMO = harder to control for me...went back to the 34.75" for day 2 and putted better.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
To clarify...Cabrerra used a belly length putter but used it "normally"...nothin wrong with that....and it does help one see the line better if you can adjust to the feel factor on lag putts...I did a happy Gilmore exhibition on the 1st green with the 39" job.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
I did try the belly putter and it is easier to make a smooth stroke. Please don't ban it.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenteryup
No anchoring period.
It's that simple.

Let them use a ten foot putter if they want........just don't anchor it.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
I for one think they should be banned, but as long as they are legal, people should use them.

Arnold Palmer was on the Golf Channel's Morning Drive show a while ago and was asked about it. When asked about his opinion he said it should be banned. Then when asked theoretically if he were playing competitively in today's day an age, would he use an anchored putter he said "Of Course, I'm not stupid".

Although this sounds kinda like a case of "if everyone jumped off the George Washington Bridge, would you jump off too", even if a player is against the use of an anchored putter, if other players that he is competing against for his livelihood are using them and they help, he is going to use it as well, Players will play within and to the limit of the rules as much as they should.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDevinG
I like how tiger put it in his press conference "Its the art of putting."

Anchored putters would be like Da Vinci using a stencil to draw The Mona Lisa.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMikeMc
"BTW, if the maximum length of a driver is 46 inches, then that should be the maximum length for the putter."

The maximum length of a driver is 48" and the vast majority of golfer can use a long putter that's 48" or shorter. My 6'1" brother uses a broomstick that's 45 inches. I can use a belly as short as 38.5".

02.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenterkenoneputt
ken, I'm 6'3" and my broomstick is 48". I think 50" is the max that Callaway makes the long 2-ball. Woosie's broomstick was probably only 38"!

OK, again, does anyone have any real insight on the timing of this? 6 months, or 6 years? Odds? Has this been discussed at any length in Ponte Vedra?
02.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDel the Funk

I think someone who's in Woosie's height range could get as short as 37 inches. I think Cink's was at least 50 inches. And Vijay's belly putter was at least 45".

What simple length limits do is discriminate against anyone over about 5'10".

If you listen to Huggan's proposal in the podcast, he'd say the club can only touch your hands, and your hands must to touch each other. No more split grips, no more claw grips, no more one-handing it... unless you write an exception.

Below the waist? I prefer a flat lie, and in my experiments with belly putters, my best anchor point is on my left hip and well below my belt. In fact I am convinced that the belly putters on the market are too long for almost everyone, and that a shorter putter with a lower anchor is better.

What amuses me most about that podcast is that three guys who've never hit even one putt with a belly are suggesting that within 10 years they'll be the dominant method. They've been around since the 1960s, and aren't dominant. Big drivers took less than 5 years to eliminate standard-sized drivers.

02.15.2012 | Unregistered Commenterkenoneputt
i have been using belly putter now for 3 months avg 31 putts prior avg 31 putts now
02.15.2012 | Unregistered Commentermikew
Bellying a 17 degree hybrid is my three club trick. I normally put with a regular putter, but that works better than bellying a wedge for me.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
Meaning when I play a three club match.
02.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
I like the way Tiger put it! Saying it should be the shortest club in the bag! I think that generally the advancement of technology has ruined the game anyway. These guys we watch week in, week out are suposed to be the best in the world, yet they use rescue clubs, lob wedges and now belly/long putters. Even look at the ball today! Guys on Tour are complaining that they are finding it hard to move it both ways??
02.16.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSean
The Big Easy is big-time correct. The anchored putting method is contrary to the spirit and concept of golf. The club should be attached to the body by the HANDS ONLY, period. The croquet-style putting method once used by Sam Snead was banned, so we have precedence for banning a method that is currently popular.
02.16.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDriveForShow
No one has mentioned bifurcation, yet. Let the average amateur use whatever length putter/putting style they want. The game won't grow if we make it harder at the lowest level.
But the Pros should have a ban on anchoring the putter. And to those who say "How do you enforce it?", the pros call penalties on themselves all the time. They play within the rules because that is the spirit of the game. This is also how Ernie can use the belly and at the same time say it should be banned.
BTW, Sean, Lob wedges are beyond the ability of most amateurs to use properly ie. full shots and flop shot.
02.17.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTheRJoelB

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