We’re very close to an official decision on the use of long and belly putters.
It is believed that the R&A and the USGA are to make a formal announcement within the next month on a decision to ban the practise of anchoring golf clubs against the body during a golf swing. A recent report suggests that professionals will be advised of the changes at this week’s WGC Champions event in China and next week’s event in Singapore.
What’s wrong with it?
The overwhelming argument against anchoring is that it reduces the potential for any nervous twitches to affect the putt. Unlike changes to clubs and balls, the fundamental golf swing is changed when the golf club is anchored to the body. Anchoring is thought to provide help for golfers who have struggled for consistency on the greens, particularly those who have developed the yips. Adam Scott has been quoted as saying the long putter “makes going out on the course less stressful, knowing you’re going to putt alright all the time”.
What will the decision be?
As yet nothing is confirmed but some of the strongest rumours have indicated a ban at the professional level beginning 2016 with a ban at amateur level possibly at the same time, or more likely a few years later. The changes will be made with regard to the rules regarding the golf swing rather than a ban on particular golf clubs but will have the same effect as outlawing belly and long putters. We wait for a formal announcement.
The arguments for anchoring
Despite the huge groundswell of support to ban anchoring some people insist anchoring is no big deal and should be kept within the rules of the game. Some claim that many golfers will no longer be able to compete against other golfers – amateurs included. A recent article at Golf.com is full of many more popular arguments which include the idea that the advantage has not been proven, and anchoring makes the game more enjoyable for some golfers.
All the arguments I’ve heard in support of anchoring have failed to sway me in any way. Lamenting that some professional golfers may no longer be able to compete on the tour, to claims that all golfers would be using them if they improved putting, miss the point.
Not all golfers are poor putters. Not all golfers would improve with the use of belly putters, but the fact that some golfers improve there putting to any degree is enough to question the practise. Further, as Wayne Grady mentioned last week: “What relief does someone have when they get the yips with the chips?”
While it may be true that technology has changed the game to a larger degree that anchoring, it is no reason to ignore the issue. From a purely physics perspective the anchoring must reduce the potential for wayward putting by reducing the number of degrees of freedom during the swing.
I still like the idea that the putter is the shortest club in the bag and dealing with nerves must remain an integral and enticing part of the game.