Els rehashes old arguments on proposed anchoring ban

Ernie Els is making sure his opposition to the proposed anchoring ban is clearly heard.

The proposed rule to ban anchoring in golf is still not set in stone. A 90-day comment period on the proposal finishes at the end of this month and it seems Ernie Els is making as many comments as possible.

I’m a massive fan of Ernie Els. Hey, who isn’t? The guy is an out and out legend of the game and I’m told has a heart of gold. While my personal view on the anchoring ban proposal has softened a little over the past few months, I think a lot of Els’ recent comments are just a rehash of all the old arguments which frankly, don’t hold a lot of water.

Ahead of this week’s PGA Tour Northern Trust Open at Riviera, Els was asked a number of questions regarding the proposed anchoring ban. His responses have been deemed thoughtful and perhaps a good argument to keep belly and long putters in the game.

“There’s no data that really confirms that they have to ban it. If there were 90 percent of the guys using it, or if the guys using it were top of the putting ranks, guys making more putts from 20 feet, more putts from 4 feet … give me something to go by to really make me believe that you have to ban it. But I can’t see them having a really great way of explaining to me why they would want to ban it.”

The major argument to ban the belly putters is the perceived advantage they give in pressure situations. The physics of the system takes out a few twitches and therefore, changes in putter head orientation that arise  when golfers are attempting to make putts under pressure.
Replicating these situations is all but impossible, and not all golfers have issues maintaining the putter head orientation in these situations – hence no need for a belly putter. Does Ernie really want us to wait until 90 percent of golfers are using it to ban it? Not 80 percent? Not 50 percent?
The putting ranking argument is also a poor one. Some golfers will get a lot better using belly putters like Adam Scott and Ernie Els, while good putters with the short stick such as Brandt Snedeker or Tiger Woods will fail to see any huge advantage.
If you want data, just look at the putting stats for Ernie Els, Adam Scott and company before and after using the anchoring technique.

Ernie Els again;

“Before Webb Simpson won — you guys correct me if I’m wrong here — but I saw a quote of Mike Davis saying that they don’t see the great benefit … that they don’t see that there’s any importance of banning the putter,”

“And then Webb wins, and I win, and then the next thing is they want to ban the putter. So in all honestly, I’m not too sure what their whole reason is behind this whole thing. Because as I say, there’s a handful of guys using it. It’s helped some careers. Some guys cannot putt another way, so there’s some stuff that you have to follow through.”

Ok, so Mike Davis got it wrong. But just because one guy changes his mind doesn’t call the whole proposal into question. And let’s not forget what Els said about the anchoring technique;

“As long as it’s legal, I’ll keep cheating like the rest of them.”

The victories of Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Ernie Els’ certainly did rally golf ruling bodies into discussion. The victories were at the majors with a big audience but as for his comment; “Some guys cannot putt another way”, was he serious?

I think what he is saying here is that some guys cannot putt very well another way. And for this, I have no sympathy.

Smashing drives takes some skill but making putts and controlling the nerves when the body wants to twitch and squirm is a major part of our game, especially the professional one. It allows for finesse and control among the booming golf that has only arrived in our game over the past 40 years.

The R&A and the USGA may still not go ahead with the anchoring decision, and even if they do there is nothing to say the individual professional golf tours need to go along with it. Els is clearly putting as much pressure on everybody as possible.

One thought on “Els rehashes old arguments on proposed anchoring ban

  • February 17, 2013 at 08:05

    “The major argument to ban the belly putters is the perceived advantage they give in pressure situations. The physics of the system takes out a few twitches and therefore, changes in putter head orientation that arise when golfers are attempting to make putts under pressure.”

    And there is the problem with this entire proposed ban. Perceived. There is zero truth to this. The nerves are EXACTLY the same between the two different putting styles. In fact, from my years of use between the long putter and the short putter, I would say it is in fact the opposite.

    You should also try taking a look at Ernie Els’ putting stats for his British Open win last year. The putter did not win it for him. He ranked at the bottom of the half of the field for the week (as did Adam Scott). Tiger Woods and Brandt Snedeker were only in contention because they ranked in the top 20 in putting.


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