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Long putters to go belly up
Question of the Day
Dawson said he was hopeful the players would understand the decision for the proposed ban on anchoring. Davis said potential lawsuits were never considered.
“Shame on us if we’re scared of litigation in doing the right thing,” Davis said.
Tiger Woods is among those who have been outspoken about anchored putters, saying it takes away from the nerves in the hands in trying to make putts.
“I just believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling nerves,” Woods said Tuesday. “And having it as a fixed point, as I was saying all year, is something that’s not in the traditions of the game. We swing all other 13 clubs. I think the putter should be the same.
“I don’t know if there’s any statistical data on it … about whether or not anchoring the putter does help on a certain range of putts, especially the guys who have gotten the twitches a little bit,” he said. “But one of the things that I was concerned about going forward is the kids who get started in the game and starting to putt with an anchoring system. There have been some guys who have had success out here, and obviously everyone always copies what we do out here. And that’s something that I think for the greater good of the game needs to be adjusted.”
Jack Nicklaus recalls then croquet-style putting was banned decades ago, and golf moved on. Even though far more golfers use long putters, he expects the same outcome.
“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, groover, all kinds of changes. Players have adjusted to those and they’ll adjust to this.”
That’s ultimately what got the attention of golf’s governing bodies.
Adding to the attention was Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old from China who used a belly putter this month when he won the Asia Pacific Amateur, which earned him a spot in the Masters. He will be the youngest player ever at Augusta National. Guan started using the belly putter about six months before his big win.
Davis said there has been a dramatic increase in anchored putting styles in the last 18 months to two years at all levels of the game _ tour players, elite amateurs, all the way down to the junior level. Previously, he said such putting was used by players who either “lost their way with conventional putting” or went to a broom putter because it was difficult for them to bend over for long periods of time in practice.
For years, there was a stigma attached to those who used long putters. They were considered poor putters who needed help. Davis said certified instructors began to realize that anchored putting would take some of skill out of putting, and it could lead to the majority of golfers using long putters.
“Throughout the 600-year history of golf, the essence of playing the game has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball,” Davis said. “The player’s challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge.”
The proposal is for Rule 14-1(b) which reads, “In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either `directly’ or by use of an `anchor point.’”
To anchor the club directly is defined by players intentionally holding the club or the hand gripping the club in contact with any part of the body.
Putting styles such as the “claw” or “cross handed” are still allowed. Matt Kuchar uses a belly-length putter that he rests against his arm. That would be permitted. Belly putters are allowed, as long as they don’t touch the stomach, such as the style Angel Cabrera used when he won the 2009 Masters. Broom putters, such as used by Clark, Pettersson and Adam Scott, can be used provided it is held away from the chest.
By Orrin G. Hatch
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