Golf adopts rule to ban anchored putting stroke

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Those in favor of anchored putting argued that none of the top 20 players in the PGA Tour’s most reliable putting statistic used a long putter, and if it was such an advantage, why wasn’t everyone using it?

The governing bodies announced the proposed rule on Nov. 28, even though they had no data to show an advantage. What concerned them more was a spike in usage on the PGA Tour, more junior golfers using the long putters and comments from instructors that it was a better way to putt. There was concern the conventional putter would become obsolete over time.

The purpose of the new rule was simply to define what a putting stroke should be.

“The playing rules are not based on statistical studies,” Nager said. “They are based on judgments that define the game and its intended challenge. One of those challenges is to control the entire club, and anchoring alters that challenge.”

The topic was so sensitive that the USGA and R&A allowed for a 90-day comment period, an unprecedented move for the groups that set the rules of golf. The USGA said about 2,200 people offered feedback through its website, while the R&A said it had about 450 people from 17 countries go through its website.

Among those who spoke in favor of the ban were Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker and Steve Stricker.

“I’ve always felt that in golf you should have to swing the club, control your nerves and swing all 14 clubs, not just 13,” Woods said Monday.

Tim Clark and Carl Pettersson have used the long putter as long as they have been on the PGA Tour. Scott switched to the broom-handle putter only in 2011, and he began contending in majors for the first time _ tied for third in 2011 Masters, runner-up at the 2012 British Open, his first major victory in the Masters last month.

“I don’t really have a backup plan,” Scott said at The Players Championship. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and deal with it then. I don’t think there will be anything much for me to change. If I have to separate the putter a millimeter from my chest, then I’ll do that. … My hand will be slightly off my chest, probably.”

The putter would have to be held away from the body to allow free swing. Mark Newell, head of the USGA’s rules committee, said the rule would be enforced like so many others in golf _ players would have to call the penalty on themselves.

Bernhard Langer also uses a broom-handled putter, and the 55-year-old German was on the leaderboard at the Masters on the weekend before tying for 25th.

“It’s very disappointing,” Langer told Golfweek magazine from St. Louis, where he was preparing for the Senior PGA Championship. “We’ll have to wait to see what the PGA Tour says, and right now, we’re all guessing. If they make their own rule, then nothing changes. If they don’t make another rule, we’ll have to adjust. It’s been talked about and talked about and it’s just disappointing. I just don’t understand why it took them 40 years to come to their conclusion.”

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