The United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews formally proposed Wednesday to ban anchor putting starting January 1, 2016.
While their logic of keeping all the clubs in the bag as free-swinging is noble, they are fixing a problem that simply does not exist and it affects you.
The USGA and R&A create the rules that we all play by. The rule book you use on your Sunday foursome with plenty of trips to the beer cart is exactly the same as the one Tiger Woods uses every time he plays.
A little background on how rule decisions are made. The R&A creates the rule book for all but two countries in the world. The USGA rules the game here in the United States and Mexico.
Being a sport that prides itself on tradition, there has been a conscious effort when creating changes to the rules that do not separate those who play golf for a living from those who want to have fun on the weekend.
If the governing bodies are concerned about too many players at the top level getting an unfair advantage by hooking a putter to your belly, then deal with that.
Where there is a legitimate argument about whether the anchor-putting stroke gives PGA Tour golfers an unfair advantage or not—and there is no data coming forward that even suggests that there even IS an advantage to anchor putting—taking away a stroke style for the rest of us that potentially makes the game more fun to play is a mistake.
Reportedly 90 percent of all golfers can not break a score of 100. Most of the reason why is because of the putter.
Sure, you can bomb a ball 300 yards into the trees and hit a wedge shot onto the green, but making those 10-15 putts is the hardest part of the game.
Making a four-foot putt is as hard as connecting with a round bat and ball in baseball. If you do not make those shorter putts, your frustration level grows and chances are you are going to play less if you do not see improvement.
Should Anchor Putting Be Banned for All?
Anchoring the long putter into your midsection does not guarantee that you putt better. It will not make that long 20-25-footer to save a bogey after you hit it out of a bunker on your approach, nor will it really help you win that $5 side bet with a buddy on the 15th green.
What it does do is give you the confidence that you need to make that shot. There is enough to worry about in trying to execute a decent golf shot. Now, the powers that be have told all of us that we have just three years to fundamentally change the way we putt if we choose to putt the anchor way.
In trying to keep what is perceived to be an unfair advantage on golf’s biggest stages, what the USGA and R&A propose instead reaches down to the smallest levels of golf.
All governing bodies for all sports are charged with growing their games in their country. We see the United States Tennis Association blanket CBS and ESPN2 with ads on how wonderful tennis is to actually play during the U.S. Open.
Twenty years from now, the next generation of golfers will already be used to this change and learn the game accordingly with the rules are in place. The danger here is changing the way people today enjoy the game now.
They decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater here.
The better precedent they could have set was the realization that there are fundamental differences between the top-level pro tours and the rest of the golf world. This change should have been a joint one with the PGA Tour, European PGA Tour, the LPGA, the PGA of America and Augusta National who either run tours or the majors.
Unless they can demonstrate why this gives your father-in-law an advantage on the green over you, there was no reason to change the rule on such a broad basis.