The USGA and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) proposed a rule change on November 28, 2012 that would no longer allow tour players to anchor their putters to various parts of their body – belly, chest, and chin?! citing that it takes too much skill out of the game and gives an unfair advantage to those who use them. No data actually supports this theory as there are tons of tour players that currently use them and still can’t sink a putt, and vice versa, with only one player ranked in the top 10 as of today, Adam Scott, who uses one:
1. Rory McIlroy
2. Tiger Woods
3. Luke Donald
4. Brad Snedeker
5. Louis Oosthuizen
6. Justin Rose
7. Adam Scott*
8. Lee Westwood
9. Phil Mickelson
10. Bubba Watson
Yet, the USGA and R&A still see a trend forming. With 3 of the last 5 major Champions have anchored the butt-end of their putter to some obnoxious place of their body, as well as a 15 percent increased use of anchor putters by professional golfers in 2012, the two organizations are bent about stopping it as soon as possible (or by 2016 when the ban is said to take effect) before it tarnishes their precious, historic, tradition-clad sport.
Throwing a monkey wrench into the picture was when younger brother, the PGA Tour, came out this past Sunday in somewhat “hipster fashion” adamantly opposing the USGA ban due to lack of evidence and progression of the game. However, the PGA also claims to a certain extent that an anchor ban would offend little amateur hipster golfers and drive them away from the sport, which is just dumb.
I personally think there is an advantage, which is why more pros continue to switch over, and will quote Steve Stricker when he spoke to ESPN because… well he agreed with me by saying, “I do think it’s an advantage!” He goes on to explain, “Any time you can take your arms and hands out of it, especially your hands … when you can anchor it in your chest is a huge advantage.” However, if the playing field is level, and pros can chooses if they want to use one or not, who cares? It’s like in basketball… players can choose to lay the ball up, dunk it, or do a crazy, ostentatious windmill 360 knowing full well that they might miss it. [cue video]:
As a recreational amateur golfer, using or not using a “belly-putters” is personally irrelevant to my game. I’m not hitting scratch and have a hard enough time striking the ball clean and straight every time that it won’t make a huge difference to my overall scored compared to if I were using a traditional putter. So I choose not to use one. And honestly, in my most genuine attempt not to sound shallow, using one of those sticks isn’t worth the laughter and endless jokes I’d receive from my friends if I were to pull one out of my bag.
It’s just uncalled for at the level my friends and I and probably 95% of the other wannabe professional-golfers across the world play at. I’ve only seen one person in real life use a belly-putter and just found it really cheeky that he shanked the ball all over the course with his other clubs then whipped out a humongous broomstick on the green, took ten too many practice “sways” with his big-ole gut, only to three putt his way to a double par.
On the other hand, if some below average dude or chick (so not to be sexist) insists on showing off by using a belly putter in a local tourney, I probably wouldn’t care… just like how I don’t really care if the various associations ban or don’t ban them from the pro tour because, well… I’m not a pro. I’d still continue to play and would continue to watch / follow my favorite golfers because I love the game itself.
As of now, I have no intentions of buying an anchor putter but suppose if I were hitting scratch one day (hopefully in the not so distant future) and trying to get to that “next level,” I might consider trying one out. Maybe golf as a whole should impose a rule like that instead… you’re banned from buying a long, over-compensating putter, unless you’re a sick-ass golfer… until then, worry about improving your fundamentals first. 🙂
Who knows what will happen, though should the younger and older brothers disagreements continue, in major championships alone, players would have to switch from their long putters accepted by the PGA Tour’s Masters and PGA Open to traditional ones in the USGA hosted US Open and R&A’s Open Championships, which would be very interesting. I’m also interested in what the European Tour will do now.
Until a final decision is made by the USGA, which I heard will be Spring of this year, checkout below list of would-be affected players should a ban be implemented:
photos borrowed from http://www.si.com