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Tuesday
Feb192013

Latest Anchoring Ban Roundup: These Guys Are So Good They Want Special Golf Rules To Protect Their Stars!?

I've been doing this blogging thing a while and after reading a variety of things today, I've seen a day arrive in golf that I never thought would come: PGA Tour players wanting to make the rules for their sport because the big, bad governing bodies are meanies!

Bear with me. There is a lot to digest, but think big picture as you read these comments and I gurantee your jaw will drop.

The most telling comments came from PGA Tour policy board member Steve Stricker, who revealed some key points from Monday's board discussion over the anchoring ban and possible tour opposition to the rule change proposed by the governing bodies.

STEVE STRICKER:  It's not surprising, I guess, because of all the things that players have gotten to learn about since this has come about.  I was the same way; I was for the ban to start with, and my decision or my feeling is swayed a little bit, also.

I think the timing of it is poor.  We're at a point in time in the game of golf that we're trying to keep players, lure players into playing the game, and we all feel‑‑ a majority of the players feel that it only puts a negative spin on that, maybe detracts the local guy, the club member, the public player, whoever, from playing at times.

And this rule has been good for 30 years or so, so yeah, I guess the more information that we've received, I think it's swayed a lot of the players' opinions.

And to your second question, I can see us adopting‑‑ I don't know if that's going to happen.  Don't even know if the USGA is going to go ahead with the rule change.  But I can see the TOUR adopting the rule saying that it's okay for players to use a long putter.  And we have probably a couple other rules out here on our hard card that are different from USGA rules, too, and this wouldn't be any different, I guess.

That's right, the PGA Tour might position itself as saying the game is just too hard for some people who play for millions each week and their athletes need a crutch that you too can purchase!

Have they not seen any fan polling?  There has not been a single survey suggesting a majority sympathizes with the plight of the anchorer.

Here;s where I smell Stricker conveying Commissioner Image-Over-Integrity's views.

Our game out here on TOUR is pretty strong.  A lot of the‑‑ not a lot, but there's a couple players that have won majors with a long putter, and they're faces of our TOUR.  And to take that away, I think, is not a good thing for our TOUR or our sport at this time.

So that right, because some of the anchorers are stars that fit the Commissioner's ideals--Scott, Simpson, Bradley, Els--the tour might oppose this. Think about how amazing that is. The governing bodies are sticking up for those who have the heart and skill to putt one way, but because some players who are draws have found success through questionable means, we want to look the other way. What a shame John Daly's not an anchorer!

Here's the fun scenario to envision, and why I think the USGA and R&A hold stronger hands than the white-belt-wearing set seems to grasp.

Q.  Thirdly, one last thing on the anchoring thing, when you speak of the oddities and kind of the choppiness of it, what about the idea that someone like Webb Simpson could play the PGA TOUR and then go back to the U.S. Open that he's won and not use it?

STEVE STRICKER:  Yeah, that is a concern, right.  That is a concern for all of us, that if the USGA goes ahead with the rule, what happens to those events, and what are we going to do?  Are we going to change that rule?  I mean, there's really no indication from our TOUR or Tim on what we're going to do yet.  I mean, I know where the majority of the players stand, it sounds like, from yesterday's call.  And I know that they're drafting up a letter to send to the USGA and the R&A to kind of voice our position as a TOUR.  But after that we still don't know where it's going to lead us to, and it's going to be interesting.

But that is one of the possibilities of being able to anchor out here on TOUR, I guess, and then go to a major championship and not be able to anchor, which would be pretty weird.  And for those players to try to make that change is going to be pretty tough on them.

Imagine the USGA/R&A holding their ground, enacting the rule and the PGA Tour becomes the place where skill is secondary because some of the tour's biggest "faces" anchor?

What's next, no PGA Tour equipment regulations because the prime faces of the tour are long hitters? Slippery slope!

Rex Hoggard talked to Policy Board member Paul Goydos who advocated rules made by a committee, not the governing bodies.

“I have said all along, take anchoring out of the equation, is this the best way to make rules for our sport? Should the PGA Tour make its own rules? No. Should the PGA Tour and the PGA of America and the USGA and R&A and journalist be involved? I think so,” said Paul Goydos, one of four player directors on the Policy Board. “I don’t think this is the way we should be writing rules for our sport.”

Joe Ogilvie made a similar statement.

“The rhetoric among the players is the highest it’s ever been,” said PAC member Joe Ogilvie. “The question is why are we governed by an amateur organization? I praise what the R&A and USGA have done over the years. They have been wonderful stewards of the game, but is this the best way?”

Isn't it going to be fun to see what other rules the PGA Tour's finest would like to concoct to make the game better?

Even Tiger Woods--a major supporter of the proposed ban--seemed numbed by the news. Or maybe it was the relentless rally killer who started off his presser?

Anyway...

Q.  Would you be disappointed if the TOUR decided to go against the USGA?

TIGER WOODS:  Well, I understand if we go either way.  We put in local rules every week, and this may or may not be a local rule, but we'll see what happens.

Finally, check out Rick Reilly's latest column on this. Sadly, only the mobile version is currently working.

Look what Phil Mickelson told Reilly, who sees anchoring as cheating:

"If we start to play the game with a completely different set of rules -- using balls that don't go as far, grooves that spin less, and putters that aren't as efficient -- why would people come out and watch us?"

There is a point where you have to wonder if a third party--say, manufacturers--are pushing their players into this virutal tizzy over a pretty minor rule change. For someone as wise as Phil to think that people would stop coming because the governing bodies tried to ensure skill matters, speaks to a disconnect from what serious golf fans enjoy.

Finally, this was most telling from Reilly's piece. Quoting Kevin Stadler:

"I literally can't get it into the hole with a short putter," he says. "The last time I used it [at USC], I averaged 37 putts a round. When I switched, the hole went from looking like a dime to a bucket. I have no idea what I'd do for a living without it."

Work?

Look, golf is hard. Nobody knows that more than me. Putting is hard because the stupid golf ball just sits there, not even moving. It's the pressure, the nerves, the bets that make hitting it into the little hole so impossible. Used to be a guy like Bernhard Langer would get the yips and retire to the broadcast booth. Now, he gets out the wonder wand and plays 20 more years.

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Reader Comments (95)

My goodness Kevin Stadler...'Used to be a guy like Bernhard Langer would get the yips and retire to the broadcast booth..." Really? Langer did of course experiment and use several methods to overcome his yips before moving to the long putter, plus I don't think he would have made the best commentator anyway.
The PGA Tour's move (should they actually do it) seems utterly bizarre. If we're going to have bifurcation (and I'm certainly not opposed to it), should it not be the other way round - let the amateurs keep the hot balls, the high COR drivers and the long putters, but stop the pros from using them?
02.19.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSamad
excellent points by the career pga guys. i read the other day
lebron james saying dribbling the ball with two hands should
be allowed & the basket needed to be eight feet
since there is not enough dunking or fan excitement in
professional basketball.

as a traditionalist there should be no anchoring, and those
who play professionally should not anchor. the pros have embraced
the hypocrisy they are a part of.
02.19.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjay
Phil speaks like a man doing the bidding of his corporate partners at Callaway.
02.19.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavidC
very slippery slope indeed!!
02.19.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
Mass hysteria appears to be breaking out in the centre of the universe. Nothing new there. Move along people.
So far, I have read that it is okay, or good riddance to any club golfers who leave the game due to the ban on long putters.

I've also read that tournament players who have developed a putting method, allowed for more than 40 years,
can go pound sand if they can't learn another method.

And nobody has ever answered why it was okay for years and years, but not now. The ruling bodies were just inept,
ignorant, or what? And now they somehow get it?

Funny that many who were never good enough to stick at a high level are so willing to label as not good or tough enough.
These guys have it too easy, let's make righties putt left handed and vice-versa, that will teach these losers
02.20.2013 | Unregistered Commenterfatgoalie
Read my posts about Indy car racing--- the rules breakaway netted the loss of hundreds of thousand of fans in a 2 day period every year--and the racers tried to make it right again, but the fans are gone, doing other things.

These''pros'' need to chill on the ''prose'' and play the game as it is designed to be played.

If some players cannot putt conventionally, then they are not pro caliber. PERIOD.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDigger Dave
The PGA Tour, and all the people who play on it, don't give a damn about the millions of amateur players out there and don't let anyone tell you differently. The only thing we have in common is too much slow play. Leaving the game largely in the hands of the PGA Tour or the PGA of America is laughable.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Smith
Bad day when your organizations sinks below the USGA. Are they prepared to run a rules hotline?
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
Can I use a slig shot for my drives as well now.

Wow and I use a long punter, or I did until now. To all my member guest partners I apologize my handicap and scores will rise until the transition is made. It will be ugly but not as unsightly as not supporting the game of golf.

I play golf because it is difficult.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
I really think that the Champions Tour is where the concern is located. There are so few stars left that removing a Langer and Couples would be a great loss for that tour.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMattS
It is really mind numbing that a professional organization like the PGA Tour would not be making their own rules. But the ban on anchoring will not just hurt the PGA, it will hurt thousands of average golfers. The USGA is working hard to limit the size of the game and return it to its country club roots. Hopefully they will be stopped.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered Commenterebrumby
I will say this again: Geoff and the regulars on this site have spent the past several years blistering the usga for anything and everything- but especially for destroying the game we love by allowing Wally ulhein to produce ProV1s. Geoff wrote a book about the failure of the usga to protect the game.
As for the R&A, well, all I need to mention is TOC, which is a byword for institutional arrogance and villainy.

And now, all of a sudden, PGA Tour players are supposed to fall in line with these desperately flawed and venal organizations or else....what? Or else WHAT? The END of Golf? Really? I thought the ProV1 was/is the end of golf.

Say the tour votes to allow their players to continue anchoring- which has been legal for 30 years- that is their business. Literally, it is a business decision.

It won't ruin the game and the usga doesn't protect the game.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoe
I agree with MattS is that the Champions Tour is a huge issue. But honestly, if they made a local rule on that tour would anyone really care ? As far as the comment that the USOpen would have different rules than the Tour, my guess is that it would also include Augusta National as well as the R&A/Open. Also, what about the Euro Tour ? Seems they are much more aligned with the R&A than the US Tour is with the USGA. That would bring into question the co-sanctioned events such as the WGC's. So 3 majors at least would ban anchoring, and potentially all competition outside the US.. I just don't see it as feasible for regular Tour stops to allow it and 3 majors not. In the end, I think the regular Tour will go along with it, and Champions Tour will not.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Why is everyone so surprised?

When the USGA allowed for a comment period it was a clear signal that they did not have buy-in from key constituents and by definition dropping the anchoring ban entered the set of possible outcomes.

Unless that is the "comment period" was all for show?

Which is it?

Once again, misdirected anger. Those who are mad should be directing their anger at the. USGA, not the PGA Tour players and management. The burden was on the USGA to Just Do It...but they didn't.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Perhaps the the consultation period was simply to make sure the governing bodies get the wording of this ban right? Never occurred to me that there was any question of them not going ahead with it.
I wasn't the first one to predict this, not sure who was, but I was in agreement from the git-go when someone said "this is going to get interesting".
For general amusement, I thought I'd share a rules decision from 1909 (Pickeridge Golf Club, I believe). Just over 100 years old, and just about from the time when the R&A and USGA got serious about putting in place generally accepted rules...

They were talking about croquet-style putting, but the words ring truer than ever:

"The Committee considers that it is much to be deplored that players, instead of trying to master the use of golf clubs, should endeavour to overcome the difficulties of the game by using implements which have never been associated with it."

I'd consider a 42-inch belly putter stuck into your abdomen as an implement that has never been associated with the game. On the other hand, the same could be said for titanium, I guess...
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex H
The USGA & R&A have made a mess of this from the start. I've heard the arguments that it's never to late to right a wrong, but anchored putting has been around for a LONG time. If the stroke was such an outrage, it should've been banned a decades ago, not when players started winning majors with it. To compound the problems created by their inaction, the USGA presented no evidence that using an anchored strokes makes putting "easier." They needed to come with something stronger than we don't think it looks like golf. It wreaks of the arrogance that has long plagued USGA.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered Commenterknottypine
Get rid of anchoring....and...caddies lining up shots and putts for the players.

If they are "that good" they shouldn't need it!!
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
Phil is right, why would people come to watch, best thing he's said all year.

Good night Irene, what a major storm about to hit the fan, again golf is eating itself.

I'm with GS
The USGA can go blow. They are just a bunch of suited east coast amateurs in their ivory tower trying to keep themselves relevant. They are like the easy girl trying to restore their reputation. How long has Jack been saying the ball goes to far? They just sat by and watched and set up US OPENs that are 7500 yards long with thick rough. Golf is dying and this is what they find important? Crazy! How spending some time to simplifying the rules? They made a big deal last year when they said if the wind moves your ball it isn't your fault! Bloody Genius! How about spending all this time and money by coming up with a single page of rules so a person doesn't need a lifelong education to understand them?

1.Play it as it lies.
2. If you lose your ball play it from where it crossed the hazzard, and get rid of the OB rule.
3.If it is embedded,GIR, cart path you get a free drop no nearer the hole.
4. Play quickly, don't cheat and don't be an ahole.

Funny how their are 10 Commandments on how to live, but the USGA seems to think their should be 34 rules to golf!!!
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBNO
So we could have bifurication where the pros get the benefit of rules making the game easier. this whole thing is getting messy. just ban the anchor and move on. like what was said, the polls show overwhelming majority support ban. so now we're telling amateurs that its cheating, yet we could end up allowing pros to use the anchor. maybe the pga can increase the size of the hole so there are more birdies. how exciting that would be ha
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterConnor
BNO - add one more. Make divots ground under repair. Why should someone be penalized for hitting literally the exact same shot a fellow player (or competitor)?
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTampaGolfer
Connor, +1 to your comments!

TampaGolfer, make divots ground under repair, really? Why don't we just play lift, clean and place all the time and tap down spike marks. Or, better yet, if your in the fairway you get to give yourself a perfect lie, but if you are anywhere else you must give yourself a bad lie.
Golf is a game of chance and you must the accept the results whether they are good or bad (like a bad lie in the fairway vs a good lie in the rough).

Please USGA (&PGATour), ban anchoring and get the "stroke" back to a traditional methods.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFLGolfer
This bit of p.r. will be received as well as the Makers Mark fiasco.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
DTF ... it was wrong for the USGA to turn a blind eye to 'the brooms' when they came out. The reason it wasn't banned back then ... as well you know ... was because they were used only by players who had developed the yips (although I accept some may have used them for medical reasons). Things changed when the belly putter came out and 'able-bodied' golfers started to use them. If, as the Kevin Keegans of this world claim there really is no advantage to putting with the belly putter then what in heaven's name is their problem in changing to the short putter? In any event, stats are irrelevant as anchoring is not a proper golf stroke.

As I stated yesterday, the only decision the pga tour has to take is not if but when to ban anchoring. The sooner the better, I say.
c&c, not buying that explanation. The USGA sure banned croquet putting when only Sam Snead was employing the technique.

They are attempting to ban it solely for aesthetic reasons, has noting to do with the definition of a stroke, performance reasons, or anything else....as you know.

So was the "comment period" just for show? What was the purpose of the "comment period"......anyone?
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Once again, The Internet Principle reigns over life in our time: Just talk it into oblivion, and eventually it will go away...
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRLL
** Think about how amazing that is. The governing bodies are sticking up for those who have the heart and skill to putt one way, but because some players who are draws have found success through questionable means, we want to look the other way.**

It's actually worse than that, if there's anything to this argument. Of the guys Geoff mentioned, Els was at least good without the long putter, but of Bradley, Simpson, and Scott, only Bradley has the slightest bit of personality (and not always for the good). There's nothing inherent in those guys' games or actions that brings eyeballs to the TV. So the argument that they need to be protected is completely circular. If Simpson is a draw, it's because he's won a fair amount. And he's only won a fair amount because of the long putter. If he hadn't been winning, some other guy would have, and THAT guy would be a draw.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeitz
The outcome is not in doubt. And it has nothing to do with how the game is actually played. If Finchem and his loyal followers think the bottom line - the all-important dollar - will be threatened, the ban will be ignored and the tour will go its own way. Whenever the Finchem group has a choice - money v. integrity - money will always win out. (If Finchem thought golf carts would put more money in his pocket, they'd be 15 Casey Martin's on tour.)
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLiberty Apples
This is a wonderful blog and GS deserves great credit for creating a forum for discussion on this issue. A few points:

1) I doubt very much that the major equipment companies are pressuring the pros to support anchoring. The absolute number of putters sold--and hence profits-- will if anything increase if anchoring is banned. The situation is of course very different with respect to clubs and balls. Here the equipment companies are clearly a major factor in preventing roll back as they need constantly to improve sales and profits in a very tough market, both generally and in terms of golf even as they drive up the cost of playing golf, render courses obsolete, etc.
2) Notwithstanding GS's fine blog, the "public opinion" data that he cites based on responses on this site should not be taken to be representative. His polling questions, moreover, were totally loaded.
3) I think that pros such as Stricker and Goydos are reflecting a wider sense of fairness and it is not suprising that this sense would be felt most acutely on the PGA tour. Golf has experienced dramatic changes in rules over the years. Anchoring was legal for 30 years (some say for much longer). Until recently there was very little opposition to it and every reason to assume that it would remain legal (eg. nb Mike Davis's 2011 statements as reported on this blog). Do we really want to cut down 40% of senior tour players, many regular tour players who have honed their skills over decades, and some of the best amateurs at your local clubs who will be driven out of competition? Is that fair given the history over the last generation?
4) Wjhere and when was a "traditional golf stroke" defined? And by whom? The greens have been the site of much change over the generations. We don't have stymies any more. We can fix ball marks. The ball can be marked and cleaned. Golf has always been a mix of tradition and change. Given all of this one might hope that the PGA tour will have a restraining influence on the USGA.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNew York Ace
Liberty Apples, so you think the "ban" is toast and will never be implemented?

Until recently I hadn't given much thought to the impact such a ban would have had on the Senior Tour, pretty big deal.

This is getting interesting!
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
These damn deck chairs . . . somebody help me move these things, quick!
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLudell Hogwaller
Scott cold have been a contender, but he blowed up at the Open. He also was dating Kate Hudson, and that deal went away. He was in place to be the ''great white hope'', to use the term of days gone by, as he reallly DID, and maybe STILL DOES, have a swing that is exactly like Woods.

But can he putt?

Doesn't look like it.

Woods can putt, and when he was on, as he may well be again-NO ONE could putt better.

Simpson, as has been said, might be flipping burgers without the putting aid he uses.

Bradley is just annoying, and could have a future as a rodeo clown, or a cat burger-ler.

If these guys are the poster boys for the PGA, then Finchem better take the money and run- even more.


The senseless ''were are the tests?'' posts and all the ''there are more presing issues'' posts, not to mention all the johnny come latelies (sp?) who think they are really letting us know something new when they bring up the ''ehat if's ''regarding --if the PGAT allows it, then what about the USGA ran Open- where it would stll be banned. DAMMMMMN. EVERYONE KNOWS THIS COULD HAPPEN-IT IS NOT A FRIGGING REVELATION! If this all comes to pass, then the ''users'' (losers in my way of looking at it) will have to go with a REAL putte, both in the event and in qualifying events. IT IS NOT THAT HARD TO FIGURE OUT!!!!!

I certainly hope that someone, and I am going to see if I can get one of the actual thinkers from TGC to give a listen- needs to ''discuss' the failings of the Indy car drivers, who took a cash cow, and turned into a cotinuing (sp) search for sponsors, and racing with the stands more empty than full. It happened before, it can happen again.
DTF

Yes, I think if Finchem concludes that the ban would hurt certain tour stars - and thus hurt the bottom line, or even invite lawsuits - the tour will go its own way. And don't left this nonsense about certain tour `hard card' rules cloud this issue. That dog won't hunt.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLiberty Apples
This is sad news for golf. It sounds like the pros are going to get their way if all this whining continues. Some pros who have been for a ban when it was announced are now changing their positions - that is scary. I don't know why players like Tiger and Phil would be opposed to a anchoring ban, reduced ball, regulated clubs if it put the focus back on skill. Wouldn't that given them an advantage? It has to be the sponsors? Money talks right?
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterG-Man
The PGA Tour is supposed to be a tour for those players who are the best at playing golf.....by the rules. If a player's nerves can't handle putting in the manner allowed by the rules, then they need to move on. Golf is not just about hitting it purely, it combines all aspects of the game.
There are lots of players who lost tournaments because of their inability to putt better. Especially, there are many players who lost their nerves putting as they got older....Hogan, Palmer, Watson etc. They respected the game, and didn't gripe about their eroding skills. I respect that a lot more than those PGA players who are trying to convince the Tour to come up with a special rule that will allow them to continue playing.
Playing on the PGA Tour is a privilege based on merit, not a right based on bifurcation.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGolfpogie
digger, I bet right about now the USGA wishes they had in fact taken time to test and analyze and produce some hard data that would support their case -- too late now.

Great points New York Ace.

Liberty Apples, I think you are correct.

G-Man, read a little man, Tiger is squarely in support of the anchoring ban. As for the other pro's, generally speaking PGA tour pro's aren't particularly well-read or well informed. That a bunch of them took time to ascertain and review the facts of the situation and then made an informed decision, is something they should be applauded for.

The same could be said for the USGA... They rushed headlong into this and made a ruling that was ill-advised and not at all in concert with their key constituents. Clearly they were concerned so they left themselves an out it he form of a "comment period"...

...the "comment period" wasn't just for show was it?
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
I am no Simpson fan because he is slow, but to say that the only reason he has had any success is because of the belly putter is way off base.

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