The anchoring ban controversy elicits strong reactions. It pits a group of people who favor one school of thought against another faction who are set in their view on the issue. (Of course there are some who are indifferent because they say it doesn’t effect them one way or the other but that’s kind of missing the point.)
Now I’m sure you haven’t heard or watched or talked about this imminent new rule that will prohibit the anchoring of a club to the body. Trust me, I am dreading 3-4 more years of this, and more importantly, it’s taken away attention away from the multitude of interesting storylines at Q-school (that I have saved yet not enough hours in the day to write and post). That said, after this, I’m putting a hold on all things anchoring — with exceptions, like if it involves opinions of players at Q-school or if Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley picket outside Sherwood Country Club.
It’s still an interesting discussion and I have to admit I couldn’t help but initiate some dialogue on the anchoring ban the past few days at Q-school (I did a poll for golf.com and will link to it when it’s posted shortly). This new ruling is also kind of a big deal that warrants conversation. After all, isn’t that why the USGA and R&A instituted a 90-day grace period before their “final decision” to allow people to voice their opinions and arguments?
Here’s a round-up from Anchoring Day…
*The SI Golf Group convened for an emergency PGA Tour Confidential session early yesterday morning following the USGA and R&A’s joint announcement.
(What was I saying earlier this week about how much more I like being on EST, particularly since so many things happen at the crack of dawn on PST?) I wish the uncensored version could be published because there was some fun jousting. I may or may not have elicited one veteran scribe to puke (which I wear as a badge of honor). I was surprised that Michael Bamberger and I were the only two on the panel who vehemently argued in favor of the new ruling.
*Alright, you’ll never believe this, but Brandel Chamblee had some strong opinions and thinks the USGA and R&A is making the biggest mistake ever. Classic quote: “The last time something this popular was banned it was called prohibition and that didn’t go over so well.”
OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Anchoring really isn’t THAT popular, otherwise everyone would be doing it. For the avid golfer, how many of your buddies play with a belly or broomstick putter? How often do you seem them on the course? It’s certainly close to the majority.
*Chamblee: “I think the USGA and the R&A are making a mistake. This is not a decision that so much affects just the touring professionals. If you consider the fact that there are 25 million golfers in this country and perhaps 50 million golfers around the globe, and if we are led to believe that their numbers are in fact true, that upwards of 20-25 percent of the population that plays golf are going towards this putter, you are talking close to 20 million golfers that are affected by this.”
Um, again, gross exaggeration. 20-25% of the population? Please. Also, this is an American epidemic. You hardly see it in Asia or Europe. Remember Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old who used a belly putter in his victory at the Asian-Am that also won him a berth in the ’13 Masters? Interesting story in the Q-school media trailer yesterday. Long story short: when he arrived in the U.S. earlier this summer from China, he was playing with a short putter. Then he went and competed in all the elite qualifiers, like the U.S. Am, U.S. Jr. Boys, and so-on-and-so-forth. Six-to-eight weeks later, he was rocking the belly putter.
The young South Korean players from the Asian Tours aren’t even really familiar with anchoring. From my count, none of the the 15 players of Korean descent who are in the field at finals use a long putter. (BTW, there are 4 in the top 20 after the first round. Asian Invasion…remember like 15 or so years ago when the South Korean ladies started to show up on the LPGA? Yeah.
Rich Lerner: “To the recreational player who has gotten some enjoyment and had some success with the anchoring method, might be upset right now. What would you say to that person?”
Michael Breed: “Come and see me for a lesson! This is going to be good for us to teach. We are going to have a chance to rework the instruction part of the game.”
Miller: “I don’t have anything against, quote-unquote, banning. But when you are not able to anchor the putter when you’ve got the yips, boy that takes a lot of the goodness away from the long putter.”
Norman, on the idea of bifurcation: I agree with them (Chamblee and Miller) 100 percent. It should be bifurcated…We are in a position in this sport where we generate a lot of interest no matter what we do, from an economic standpoint or from a manufacturing standpoint. These players move the needle and so we have to be able to make sure we move the needle in the right direction. Bifurcation is the right thing to do.”
Sorry, Greg, but manufacturers don’t really care otherwise this ban wouldn’t have happened so quickly. They’re not profiting enough from belly/long putters, so they’re not fighting it. We would have heard about it if it were an issue. And I really don’t think being able to anchor a putter is going to attract people to the game, or cause a mass exodus. I can’t imagine many giving up the game because it’ll be illegal to anchor their putters starting in 2016.
I agree with Norman on bifurcation in this case, or actually, you know what, Joe Golfer might as well and continue doing what they’re doing. What percentage of amateurs abide strictly to the rules, anyway? How many of you guys can tell me the five options you have to take a penalty drop from a lateral hazard? When was the last time you found your ball out-of-bounds (and didn’t hit a provisional) and went all the way back to re-tee? I could go on-and-on, but I really don’t care and I encourage players just to take a drop near the area they hit it OB. Whatever makes the game more fun (and fast).
Plus, I spent over a decade abiding strictly to the rules and calling penalty shots on myself in stupid situations, like the wind moving the ball on the putting green, etc. Now I don’t have to freak out over whether or not I’m dropping my ball on the EXACT line it entered the hazard. It’s way more enjoyable.
OK, back to the LAST-EVER Q-SCHOOL, which, sadly, will not be broadcasted for the first time since 1994 (before there even was a Golf Channel, which was established in 1995).