Category: Long Putters

May 17, 2013

USGA to announce anchored putter decision on Tuesday

Posted at 9:55 AM by Mike Walker

Bradley_long_300Anchored putters, your time may be up.

The USGA will announce its final decision on whether to ban anchored putting -- in other words, belly putter and long putters that are "anchored" against the body -- at a news conference Tuesday at USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J. The 8 a.m. press conference will be broadcast live on Golf Channel. The USGA will also provide a live webcast of the press conference here.

In November, the USGA and the R&A proposed a rule change to ban anchored putting strokes after three of the previous five major champions used either belly putters or long putters, including Keegan Bradley [right] at the 2011 PGA Championship. After the USGA and R&A proposed to ban anchored putting, Adam Scott won the Masters with a long putter in April. (The R&A -- the Royal & Ancient Golf Club -- administers the game outside the United States and Mexico.)

The proposed rule change has been controversial; the PGA Tour and the PGA of America have both told the USGA that they are against the proposed change. However, the European Tour, the LPGA and several prominent former and current players -- including Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer -- support the ban.

In a written statement in November, the USGA executive Mike Davis said that anchored putting is at odds with the essence of the game:  “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,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “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. Our conclusion is that the Rules of Golf should be amended to preserve the traditional character of the golf swing by eliminating the growing practice of anchoring the club.”

Supports of anchored putting have argued that the rule change is not fair to players who use anchoring, which has been legal for 30 years, that the ban would limit the enjoyment of recreational players, and that anchored putting is not an advantage.

USGA do not appear to have changed their mind. In an interview in the June issue of Golf Magazine, Davis defended the proposed rule change.

"We weren't trying to hurt anybody," Davis said. "It's a divisive issue and it's been divisive ever since the long putter has been around. We're simply trying to clarify it and put it to bed."

If the USGA and R&A adopt the rule change, then it would most likely take effect in the next scheduled rules update: Jan 1. 2016. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has declined to say whether the PGA Tour would go along with the USGA and ban anchored putting on the PGA Tour.

Photo of Keegan Bradley at the 2013 Byron Nelson Championship (Getty Images).

November 28, 2012

PGA of America members oppose belly-putter ban; PGA Tour to review in March

Posted at 1:44 PM by Mike Walker

Keegan Bradley won the 2011 PGA Championship at East Lake in Atlanta with an anchored putter. (Robert Beck/SI)

In a recent survey, two-thirds of PGA of America members said they were against banning anchored putters due to concerns over the ban's effect on the growth of the game and the lack of any data to suggest that anchoring is an advantage.

The PGA of America, which represents more than 27,000 teaching professionals and hosts the PGA Championship, shared the results of the survey in a letter to USGA Executive Director Mike Davis and USGA President Glen Nager. Davis announced the USGA's proposed ban on anchored putters in a joint teleconference with R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson on Wednesday morning.

"We believe that golf is the greatest of all games," the PGA of America's letter stated. "We also believe that we need to continue to do what is necessary to preserve all that makes it unique and, consistent with our mission, take actions to grow the game. Therefore, as you near decisions regarding a potential ban on anchoring, we wanted to be sure that you were aware of the polling results as our PGA members are truly the tangible connection between the game and its participants.

"As Mike mentioned in his presentation to us at our PGA Annual Meeting in Baltimore earlier this month, there does not appear to be any data that suggests that anchoring a golf club results in an unfair competitive advantage. In the absence of such data and based on the polling of our PGA members and all of the exciting progress the industry has made through Golf 2.0 and other related initiatives to make the game more fun and, quite frankly, more enjoyable and welcoming to a broader and more diverse audience, we respectfully ask you to consider our concerns."

The PGA of America is not affiliated with the PGA Tour, which issued its own statement on the ban Wednesday:

"While the USGA and The R&A have kept us updated on this proposed rule change, we only recently have been able to review the final language and have not until now had the opportunity to share it with our Policy Board and membership," the PGA Tour's statement said. "As with any rule change, we will go through our normal process of evaluating the potential impact this will have to all our constituents. It will be discussed at our next annual player meeting on Jan. 22 in San Diego, and it is anticipated that it will be reviewed by our Policy Board during its March meeting. During this review process, we will provide periodic updates to our stakeholders."

Davis said Wednesday that the PGA of America, the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour are all consulting members of the USGA's Rules of Golf committee and were involved in the discussions about anchored putters, although he declined to say whether PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem agreed with the ban.

"I think it would be fair to say this question would be better answered by Tim himself or a member of the Policy Board, but certainly the Tour is aware of what's going on and they have a process they have to go through," Davis said.

The LPGA Tour put out its own brief statement Wednesday, saying the women's tour has always followed the USGA's rules:

“The LPGA has consistently conducted our official events in accordance with the Rules of Golf as defined by the USGA and the R&A. We certainly respect golf’s governing bodies and their long-standing desire to protect and promote the best interests of the game.

“The proposed new Rule 14-1b prohibiting ‘anchoring the club’ in making a stroke is not yet final and the LPGA will wait with interest while the USGA and R&A consider further comments and suggestions from the golf community.

“In the meantime, we will continue to discuss this proposed change with our players and provide our input and thoughts directly to the USGA and R&A.”

The European Tour is a member of the R&A's Rules of Golf committee. The USGA is the governing body for golf in the United States and Mexico; the R&A is the governing body for the rest of the world. Speaking for the R&A, Dawson said the European Tour is expected to adapt the rule change without any issue, and recalled a saying of former European Tour official Ken Shofield.

"When he was executive director of the European Tour, he said the European Tour are rules followers, not rules makers," Dawson said. "I think from some remarks attributed over the past two or three days to George O'Grady, that sentiment lives on on the European Tour."

November 13, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Graeme McDowell claims research shows long putters have advantage

Posted at 11:19 AM by Samantha Glover

Graeme McDowell said that USGA executive director Mike Davis told him research shows that long putters have an advantage, according to the Herald Sun, an Australian newspaper.

"They're convinced the research has shown that under pressure on a Sunday afternoon the long putter just kind of takes one extraneous movement out of the putting stroke," McDowell said at Kingston Heath.

"I think it's probably something they're disappointed in themselves that it's got to this point. They probably should have nipped it in the bud many, many years ago."

Ian Poulter, who is in Australia with McDowell for the Australian Masters, agreed. 

"Ban it. End of story," the Englishman said. "I mean, don't anchor the butt end of the club. It's simple, right?"

The possibility of a ban on long putters and belly putters has divided professional golf. Tiger Woods has already gone on record supporting the ban, Phil Mickelson spoke out against the ban, and Keegan Bradley said he would consider legal action if the USGA and R&A decided to outlaw the anchored putter.

September 02, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Rick Perry rips Obama's 'prodigious golf habit'

Posted at 9:00 AM by Alan Bastable

In a less-than-subtle jab at President Obama's love for golf, Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry sent a fundraising request to supporters Thursday asking them to "open their pocketbooks to the amount of $76 — exactly the number of rounds of golf Obama has played since entering the White House," according to Arlette Saez of The e-mail read in part:

“In honor of his prodigious golf habit, I ask you to donate $76 today — a dollar for each round of golf Obama has played since becoming president.

“31 months, 12 days and 76 rounds of golf later, we still await the president’s plan to create jobs. Or, more precisely, his next plan following the failed stimulus that spent our children’s inheritance, exploded the debt and led to greater unemployment. Now the president wants a mulligan.

“Help us yell a pre-emptive ‘fore’ before the president takes a three-iron to the economy and makes matters worse.”

Yikes, somebody get this guy a speechwriter!

Have long putters "neutered the skill factor"? 

Pop riddle: It helped Adam Scott snap out of a slump, it led Keegan Bradley to PGA glory, and now Phil Mickelson is dabbling with it. Religion? Nope. HGH? Not that we know of. The cabbage soup diet? Wrong again! It’s the long putter, and it has some folks asking, “Is it cheating?” Rex Hoggard of the Golf Channel explores:

“If it was cheating you’d see every single person using it,” said Spencer Levin, who switched to a belly putter late last season and has become a convert. “I don’t think it is the cure-all. You still have to be good to use it. But there’s no doubt, you give a good putter a long putter and he’s only going to get better.”

...One man’s cheating is another’s second chance, and, despite the escalating debate over the long putter’s use on Tour, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is no going back.

“Once something is approved it’s difficult to go back,” said Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet Company, the parent company of Titleist, FootJoy and Pinnacle. “The statistical evidence here, similar to the grooves, one of the things that no one ever measures is the guy who plays 18 holes and leaves himself on the right side of the hole for 18 consecutive holes, he’s going to have fewer putts than the guy who is on the wrong side of the hole.

“How do you do any kind of statistical analysis, long putter vs. short putter, to argue that inherently we’ve neutered the skill factor as a result of benefiting technology? I don’t know how you do that.”

Shocker! Another woeful golf movie…

The critics’ scorecards are in for the new Robert Duvall golf movie, Seven Days in Utopia, and let’s just say it’s no Godfather. More like Gawd-awful. I haven’t seen a movie panned this mercilessly since She-Devil. First, the plot, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle:

The protagonist for "Seven Days in Utopia" is an angry young fella (Lucas Black) who has a well-publicized meltdown on the last hole of a Texas golf tournament, then crashes through the fence of a wise old fella (Robert Duvall) on the drive home. Turns out the wise old fella is something of a Golf Whisperer: He peers inside the broken heart of the exasperated youngster and understands all that ails him.

And now the carnage, courtesy of just about every newspaper in the land:

“…A cluttered, empty drama that uses (or tries to use) golf, painting, dinner-table prayers and fly-fishing as pathways to enlightenment.” — The Seattle Times

“…though the drama has its heartfelt moments, it unrolls as flat as the Texas terrain...” — The Los Angeles Times

“The movie is terrible partly because it’s badly written, directed, and conceived and partly because it lacks the necessarily thematic coherence to accomplish proselytism of any kind. It’s handing out leaflets that don’t say anything. — The Boston Globe

“A stultifying hybrid of athletic instruction film and Christian sermon…” — The New York Times

“I would rather eat a golf ball than see this movie again.” — Roger Ebert

All the rotten-vegetable throwing aside, there is at least one compelling reason to go see the flick: K.J. Choi makes a cameo, playing the role of a “fearsome golfer.” Yep, the K.J. Choi.

Seven Days opens Friday.

Tweet of the day



August 24, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Is Obama the Tiger Woods of Politics?

Posted at 12:01 PM by Steve Beslow

Presidential Slump
Thomas Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner for The New York Times and a 6-handicap, takes a look at how President (and avid golfer) Barack Obama's current slump matches an only slightly less powerful international force.

He has accomplished a lot more than he’s gotten credit for — with an opposition dedicated to making him fail. But lately he is seriously off his game. He’s not Jimmy Carter. He’s Tiger Woods — a natural who’s lost his swing. He has so many different swing thoughts in his head, so many people whispering in his ear about what the polls say and how he needs to position himself to get re-elected, that he has lost all his natural instincts for the game. He needs to get back to basics.

Thankfully, that seems to be where the comparisons between Obama and Tiger end, but Friedman definitely has a point: Both Woods and Obama are struggling through big slumps, and time might be running out for both of them to finish their big goals.

Compromising Position?
With the recent successes of Keegan Bradley and Adam Scott (amongst others) using long putters, it has been almost impossible to escape the back-and-forth arguments about the plus-sized club's influence on the future of golf. On one hand, amateurs want to score better and enjoy the game more; on the other, we expect professionals to truly test their abilities. Robert Lusetich of Fox Sports thinks the solution might actually be pretty simple:

“Historically, most of the people who use long putters or belly putters are golfers who have mental demons—I hate to use the 'Y' word [for that dreaded affliction known as the yips]—or maybe have trouble bending over because of some physical ailment," Mike Davis, the USGA's executive director, told the Wall Street Journal. “We'd hate to pull these putters away from them, because golf is a game. It's for fun and recreation.”

Perhaps the answer lies in allowing long putters for recreational play, but outlawing them for professionals. Because there’s little doubt that putters whose nerves are shot can be re-born with a long putter. Doesn’t that give them an advantage they don’t really deserve? Shouldn’t dealing with nerves be an integral part of winning a golf tournament?

I'm actually a little surprised I haven't heard this suggestion being proposed more often, as it does seem like a simple, reasonable solution to the "problem" of long putters. It's essentially the same way that rangefinders have been handled: The USGA sets limitations but allows them, while the PGA Tour outlaws them from professional events. Mr. Finchem, make it so!

Tweet of the Day
The war between Hank "The Hammer" Haney and Tiger "Wipey Swing" Woods continues:

At some point, Tiger is probably going to have to explain just what the heck he was talking about...

August 19, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Adam Scott ready to 'fire up' Presidents Cup team

Posted at 12:26 PM by Alan Bastable

Adam Scott would like to cap what has been a resurgent year for the No. 7-ranked Aussie with a win at the Presidents Cup in November. It will be a home game both for Scott and International captain Greg Norman—the matches will be played at Royal Melbourne—and Scott plans to take a proactive and vocal role to ensure the best results for his squad. Ben Everill at The Age has the scoop:

"I know Greg wasn't happy with losing last time and he's really going to want to win in front of our home fans. I'm ready to help him fire up the boys for sure.

"It makes a big impact, especially on the younger guys, if an older guy stands up and says how he feels, shows a bit of passion and makes it clear how much he wants it.

Adam Scott is an older guy? Oy...

"Ernie [Els] did it for me in the past, and made it very clear that everyone wants it and we're not just there to slap it around for the week.

"Then you just have to go out and play hard, lead by example and just give the Americans nothing."

The Internationals have won just one Presidents Cup in eight prior attempts. On the U.S. side, captain Fred Couples is very likely using one of his two wildcard picks on Tiger Woods. [See "Tweet of the Day" below.] That means that if the teams were picked today players like Zach Johnson, match-play machine Rickie Fowler, and PGA champ Keegan Bradley would all be jockeying for Couples’ other captain’s pick. (Check out the Presidents Cup point rankings for the U.S. team here.)

Detroit and PGA Tour can't come to terms
In another blow to down-on-its-luck Detroit, General Motors’ mission to bring a Cadillac-sponsored Tour event to the Motor City has stalled. GM had been looking into bringing a tournament to Detroit Golf Club, a wonderful old-timey hangout just a few miles from downtown, reports The Detroit Free Press:

When no date on the tour schedule opened this year, Cadillac sought a date in 2012. But finding a date on the tour’s schedule during Michigan's few dependably warm months proved too difficult, according to a person familiar with the situation.

A potential opening on the tour's schedule closed when the Heritage, a longtime tour stop in Hilton Head, S.C., found a new sponsor in Royal Bank of Canada, signing a five-year deal in June.

A 67—with borrowed clubs!
Next time you try to blame your poor play on rental clubs, consider the plight of Pedro Oriol, who after his clubs were lost in transit en route to the Czech Open, was forced to play with loaners. The result? A cool first-round 67 that left the Spaniard a shot off the lead.

"I'm not sure I'm going to switch back to my own clubs now even if they arrive," the 25-year-old Oriol told reporters.

"I was worried about my round because even though I practiced very hard for the past two weeks my confidence has been quite low ... but then I go and shoot a 67 which just goes to show what a crazy game golf is."

Long-putter sales still slow (for now)
Long putters have been all the rage this summer, what with Adam Scott’s torrid play and now Keegan Bradley’s theatrics at the PGA Championship; both players wield broomsticks. ("Personally, I think that it's an easier way to putt," Bradley said. "Especially when there's some nerves. It's just very, very comfortable for me.") Still, those successes haven’t translated into big sales for manufacturers, at least not yet, reports Edgar Thompson of The Palm Beach Post:

Consumer sales have picked up a bit this summer, said Danny Germaine, manager of Edwin Watts Golf in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and one of the top amateurs in the area. But he said just one in 25 putters sold are long putters, which are produced by most major manufacturers and cost between $30 and $50 more.

Look for sales to pick up. Now that two of the coolest cats on Tour have won with long putters, you and your golf buds should no longer feel sheepish about toting a flatstick that barely fits in your trunk.

Tweet of the day

From Ryder Cup captain extraordinaire Paul Azinger...


August 15, 2011

Front9 Exclusive: Tour players versus long putters

Posted at 1:55 PM by

With Keegan Bradley breaking the long putter's drought in majors at the PGA Championship, the long-running debate over whether long and belly putters belong in the game is back in the spotlight. Here's where some of the game's biggest names stand on the issue, but as you'll see, where you stand depends on how you putt:

Tom Watson in 2010: “I would get rid of this big broom putter. That’s not a stroke.”

Lee Janzen in 2004: "My take is no putter should be anchored to the body. I have no hard feelings toward anyone who uses one. I just don't think they should be legal."

Frank Lickliter in 2004: "Cheatin' [bleeps]. It turns people with no clue how to roll the ball into adequate putters -- I can't wait for the USGA to outlaw it.”

Arnold Palmer in 2003: “I think they are unfair.”

Legendary golf scribe Dan Jenkins in 2011: “I loathe and despise the long putter with every fiber in my body.”

Tiger Woods in 2003: "I thought the art of putting is to try and figure out how to swing both arms. Anything fixed, I don't think that's right.”

Future long putter user Ernie Els in 2004: "I think they should be banned. Nerves and the skill of putting are part of the game. You know, take a tablet if you can't handle it."

Future long putter user Adam Scott to The Australian in 2004: "I have no problem with guys using them as they are within the rules of golf, but I don't think that you should be allowed to rest any club against any other part of your body. It can't be a true swing of a club or a true stroke of the putter if you are resting it against your body and it's for that reason I agree the belly putter should be banned.



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