This morning, the official banning of anchored putters was confirmed and approved. Bye, bye anchors. Check Rule 14 – 1b. The anchor ban will take place in 2016.
This highly debated topic has been bantered over for nearly a year. It is a polarizing topic in the game of golf – with a history. Some feel its the right thing do to, other think it is bad for the sport. Regarding the sport, this is the same as football’s ‘tuck rule’, hockey’s rule changes in 2005 and basketball’s addition of the 3 point line. It is changing the nature of an essential element of the sport.
But, is banning anchored putters going to help improve the game?
I see the change as a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, but one that is necessary to make. Four out of the past 6 major champions (Ernie Els, Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson) have won using anchored putters. Players like Padraig Harrington have switched over despite being uncomfortable with it, because they know they putt better statistically using it. It should come as no shock this success has caused the sports ruling officials to take a deeper look. If no majors were won by anchored putters or a limited volume of players were switching over, the USGA and R&A wouldn’t be addressing this issue….or at least I can’t imagine they would.
A popular question: Is bifurcation the answer? Two separate sets of rules, one for amateurs and one for professionals. The act of lodging the butt-end of your flat stick into your gut or jamming it against your chest solidifies the putting stroke. It helps golfers be more consistent putting, while also taking late round nerves practically out of the equation. It really should be adopted as a law of physics…. So should amateurs be given the chance to make the game more fun, despite the movement on the sport’s professional level?
There is a misconception taking place on this ban. This is not a ban on long putters. This is not an attempt to change the types of putters being sold. There is no vendetta out against club manufacturers or players with certain medical conditions – it is simply the anchoring of the particular club. Use the same putter, just don’t anchor it. Make a free swinging stroke. Freedom.
Tim Clark cites medical reasons for using a long putter. He’s played with a condition where he cannot properly rotate his hands, making a typical putting stroke very difficult. As stated by USGA executive director Mike Davis, Tim can STILL USE HIS PUTTER – he only needs to move it a few inches from his chest. It will then, be a free swinging stroke.
To people who think it should still be allowed at the amateur level and banned at the professional level (the bifurcation question asked above ^), I am going to offer an extra stance. Golf is hard, absolutely. It is a difficult sport, maybe the hardest in the world – but it is one entirely playable by people of all ages, all body types, all skill levels. Go to any Putt-Putt Mini Golf or local public putting green and see the diversity of people who can putt. Putting, physically speaking in a sense of performing the act, is the easiest part of the game. It’s making the putts consistently that is hard. Banning the anchoring putters will not making putting impossible for the amateur. The act of putting will still be entirely possible (FYI, only 2-4% of the world’s golfing population even uses an anchored stroke). It could even be argued, the average 15-20 handicap wouldn’t know how to properly use an anchored putter to improve their putting anyways….
All in all, the putting stroke is a stroke. It needs to be a free stroke. Free moving from any anchoring, jamming, lodging, resting or bracing. I will stress the act of a free stroke in any argument about the anchored putter.
After all, in America and other nations alike, don’t we love freedom?