6 Misconceptions About Anchoring Putters Ban
There has been plenty of discussion since the United States Golf Association and Royal & Ancient, in the persons of Mike Davis and Peter Dawson, announced a proposed new rule on Nov. 28 that would end anchored putting beginning in 2016.
And there will be much more discussion between now and when the rule goes into effect.
With discussion comes misconception,unfortunately, and there's been plenty of that as well.
Here are six of those misconceptions that have jumped out at me.
Long and Belly Putters Will Disappear from the Landscape.
There is nothing in the proposed Rule 14-1b that says long and/or belly putters are illegal.
Players are allowed to use either of them in competition as long as they are not anchored in any way to the player’s body.
But take a spin around the web even today and see how many stories that have a headline about Long Putter Ban or a Belly Putter Ban.
New Rule Will End Major Victories with Long Putters
The majors won by Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els over the last two years bring the total number of majors won on the PGA Tour to, um, three.
Once the new rule goes into effect in Jan. 2016, does that mean there will be no more majors won by anyone with a long or belly putter?
Saying that is just as silly as saying guys who still use the anchored stroke for the next three years will win a whole truckload of majors.
A Big Advantage?
Those who believe using the anchored stroke created a big advantage should know that Els was among seven players who used long putters to win on the PGA Tour in 2012.
This was Els’ first full season using the long putter and he improved to No. 112 in the strokes gained putting category, up from No.181 last year.
An even more interesting set of numbers shows that none of the long putters ranked in the top 10 in that category.
Recent Major Wins Weren't Impetus for Rules Change
The most amazing thing about that statement was that both Mike Davis and Peter Dawson, of the USGA and R&A, respectively, were able to sit through the whole thing with a straight face.
The first use of a long putter was back in the early 1900s, Orville Moody won the U.S. Senior Open in 1989 with one, the Champions Tour is a walking, talking commercial for them and Davis, a year ago, said he really didn’t believe the use of long putters was an issue for golf.
So it was pure coincidence that the trio of major championship victories preceded the new rule proposal by just a few months?
Players Who Have Won with Anchored Putters Are Cheaters
This one really gets me going.
By that logic, those who used Ping Eye 2 wedges made prior to 1990—wedges that were ruled to be non-conforming by the USGA—were cheating.
Silly, huh? No more silly, however, than the idea that Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els were cheating when they won major championships.
Talk that their wins should be tainted and perhaps even be followed by an asterisk in the record books is a major misconception.
Long Putter Users Will Disappear as Factors at the Highest Level
Who knows what the golf landscape will look like in 2016?
Bradley, Simpson and Scott will be in the prime of their careers. Els will be 46 years old. If the youngsters haven’t matured into major players by then, will the blame necessarily be placed on the lack of the ability to anchor their long putters? Who knows where Els’ game will be by then?
One thing is for sure: The players affected most have already begun practicing with more traditional putters and have three years to figure something out.
Listen to what Jack Nicklaus said, recalling when croquet-style putting was banned decades ago, and how golf moved on.
"They'll all learn to adjust," Nicklaus told Golf Channel. "Like anything else, they'll get used to it and get over it. We've had changes with balls, wood heads, grooves, all kinds of changes. Players have adjusted to those and they'll adjust to this."