The leading story over the last week in golf was the joint announcement of the USGA and The R&A banning the use of an anchored putting stroke.
The poster boy for this decision has become Keegan Bradley, who was the first user of this technique to win a major—the 2011 PGA Championship—wielding his belly putter.
This week at Tiger Woods’ World Golf Challenge, spectators heckled Bradley and called him a cheater.
This is the can of worms that the USGA and The R&A have opened. Will an asterisk need to be inserted beside Bradley’s PGA Championship, Webb Simpson’s U.S. Open and Ernie Els’ Open Championship?
Because the fan reaction last weekend in Los Angeles the USGA felt it necessary to issue the following statement.
This is a deplorable incident, and there is no place in our game for this kind of behavior. As we noted when announcing proposed Rule 14-1b, it has been and remains entirely within the Rules of Golf for players to anchor the club while making a stroke. There should not be a shred of criticism of such players or any qualification or doubt about their achievements, and we think that it is inappropriate even to suggest anything to the contrary. Rule changes address the future and not the past. Up until now and until such time as a Rule change were to be implemented, golfers using an anchored stroke will have been playing by the Rules of Golf.”
We are sorry that Keegan had to experience this unfounded criticism from an obviously uneducated spectator. Instead, Keegan and other PGA Tour professionals should be commended for their maturity and grace in managing through a proposed change to the Rules of Golf.
While we understand that the proposed Rules change would cause some short-term angst, we believe the new Rule would serve the long-term best interest of the game.
While the USGA and The R&A announced the proposed rule change last week, they are entertaining comments on the proposal for the next 90 days.
If the proposal is indeed enacted into the rule book it would not take affect until January 1, 2016.
What does the USGA and The R&A expect to hear over the next 90 days?
What happens between now and 2016 when the rule is enforced to players that win with the anchored putting stroke? Will there be a stigma attached to their wins?
How will the PGA Tour ease their members into conforming to the new rule? Beginning in 2013? The new PGA Tour season begins with the Fall Series events after the FedEx Cup Playoffs end.
The very latest that the PGA Tour could wait to enforce the non-anchored stoke rule would be October, 2015 when the 2016 PGA Tour season would begin.
Older players on the Champions Tour with physical issues that need the longer putters will have to conform to the new rules. How and when will the Champion Tour players that are now using an anchored stroke conform to the new rules?
It is amazing that the USGA would even consider making a statement of this kind. They have created a tremendous disturbance in the golf world.
They have put the players that have relied on the anchored stroke and perfected it over the years in a very difficult position.
The USGA and The R&A have indirectly pointed a finger of illegality at the players that have used the anchored stroke for many years.
They are also forcing players who make their living from golf drastically change a key part of their golf game.