Across the play of all professional golf tours and amateur play, the spotlight intensifies the volume of highly incessant pro and con opinions regarding the USGA and R&A golf ruling bodies both proposing a rule to ban the anchoring stroke for long putters to commence on Jan. 1, 2016. The issue is now pending before both bodies. But for certain the PGA’s outspoken 27,000 memberships pro position on anchoring is clearly being heard by both ruling bodies.
To me, it was simply a matter of time on the tour that PGA major tournaments would be won by players using the “broomstick”-style long putters. With Adam Scott’s recent 2013 Masters victory wielding a long putter, it marked wins in four of the past six majors played. The other major winners included Keegan Bradley in 2011 – PGA Championship, Webb Simpson in 2012 – U.S. Open and Els in 2012 – British Open. The four victories have given the long putter users golf’s grand slam.
With all this intensified controversial chatter regarding the putter anchoring stroke, it brings attention to Matt Kuchar’s unconventional method of putting: his left forearm and hand are extended down the shaft on a reported 44.75-inch putter, which has surprisingly been deemed legal by the USGA. Both of Kuchar’s hands are not on the putter grip as required. Maybe some of us can remember several years ago when Sam Snead’s putting stroke and stance were banned because his right hand was also extended down the shaft similar to Kutchers’. Snead stroked the ball while using a croquet style straddling stance with the ball positioned between his two feet.
It’s clearly stated in USGA Rule 14-3 that during a stipulated round the player must not use any unusual equipment that might assist him in making a stroke or in his play. Further, it states that the essence of the putting stoke is supposed to be a free motion with both players hands on the putter grip, and not both hands with the club anchored to the chest, chin or belly, with one hand extended down the shaft to steady and assist in making a stroke.
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Final thoughts: The PGA of America is the only golfing group that has issued a high profile disagreement with the USGA and R&A’s proposed ban on the long putter. If, after extensive statistical testing, it’s determined anchoring does provide an advantage to players using it, then, in my opinion, the long putter should be banned commencing in 2016. And, if banned, the PGA hopefully will not get into the rules business and split from the USGA and R&A governing bodies, who have made the rules of play since 1744, but instead choose to withdraw their disagreement and continue to play under the existing rules as they have been for over 250 years.
In the final analysis, it’s not the putter; it’s the skill of the player wielding it.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.