The Anchoring Ban
So, it's official now. The "powers that be" have ruled that the anchored stroke must go away by 2016. After months of all kinds of noise, they did what they wanted to do. Golf will survive and all will be OK, but it all seems pretty silly to me.

I didn't pay detailed attention to the entire dialog, but it really boils down to this: the decision-makers at the USGA and R&A just felt like this didn't "look like golf" to them.

I'm a golf traditionalist, and I certainly think that we need ruling bodies to set guidelines and rules. The game has been played by essentially the same basic set of rules for centuries. But like any other ruling body (see U.S. Government), rules-making always gets totally out of hand. But since the main objective here was to preserve what the game "looks like", I'm releasing the old Texas WedgeHog (rootin' out the truth) to offer my other suggestions that they might consider:
  • Does it really "look like" golf when tour pros are driving par-4 holes, sometimes with 3-woods and hitting short irons to par five holes?

  • Does it really "look like" golf when players will be hitting 7- and 8-irons from the same spot on Merion's 18th hole where Hogan hit his famous one-iron shot?

  • Does it really look like golf when courses are full of railroad ties, waterfalls, man-made creeks and streams, rock formations, etc.?

  • Does it really "look like" golf when most all the golf shoes now look like tennis shoes ... or house slippers ... or worse?

  • Or golfers routinely wear their shirt tails out?

  • Or cargo shorts?

  • Or caps on backwards?

  • Can you imagine what Hogan, Nelson, Demaret, Snead, et al would think of today's tour professionals who are as likely to be unshaven as not?

  • And the wardrobes that look like a NASCAR car?

  • What about flip-flops in the club building?

  • Or on men's feet at all, for that matter?

  • Not to mention, even on the golf course?


I could go on and on, but there are a lot of things that "don't look like golf", to me anyway. And I have mixed emotions about whether that's good for the game or not. It's always been a "gentleman's game", and that was fine with me. Our society's relaxing standards of what's proper or not certainly stretches well beyond the golf course, and as I get older I can see where my Dad was so upset at where we took things in the 1960s and 70s.

You can choose what "looks like golf" to you, and I will for me. And maybe we'll meet up at a course someday.

I'll be the guy in saddle oxford golf shoes, clean shaven with my shirt tucked in, wielding Reid Lockhart blades, a 400 cc driver and putting conventionally, though probably not all that well.

And I'll take my cap off when I go inside.
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[ comments ]
GolfSmith7 says:
I've only been play golf for 7 years this July and only started watching since Tiger came on board. The only golf I know is the modern version so all I know is the distance golf balls are hit in the modern era. However, none of that changes the game it just changes distance. The swing is the same then and now. Anchoring though fundamentally changes the game from a swing to a fixed point. Would we allow an anchored 7 iron if it could be done? No! So why the putter? It's mainly so people can calm their nerves, if so that's not a level playing field. Lets keep the swing in golf.
5/24/13
 
Wes11point5 says:
I would like to see a statistical comparison of the percentage of tour players using an anchored putter versus the percentage of wins by players using an anchored putter. I would be willing to bet that this type of comparison would indicate that there is no "real" advantage to using a putter of this type. If the percentages are roughly the same (no statistically significant difference at @ = 0.05) then there should be no need to make any prohibition. If it shows that anchored putter users win with a greater frequency then, by all means, ban it. I wish the USGA and R&A would take all subjectivity out of it.
5/24/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
GS7:
You dont think steel/graphite shafts changed how you swing a golf club? Let Tiger or Bubba swing a hickory shafted club like they do their normal clubs and see what happens.

Also as someone who has used a belly putter. It really doesn't "calm your nerves" I'm not sure where that argument came from but I'm guessing it originated from someone who never used an anchored putting stroke.
5/24/13
 
GolfSmith7 says:
By calming nerves I meant that the shaking your hands experience can be minimized by anchoring the club to your body. As far as the old shafts that argument doesn't fly bc there will always be newer equipment but both tiger and hogan swing clubs they don't anchor them.
5/24/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
There are also benefits to not anchoring (which is why I switched back to a normal putter). So why not ban short putters instead since they have advantages?

I wouldn't bring Hogan up in a putting conversation. I'm pretty sure he would have used (or at least tried using) an anchored putter given the chance. He was not a fan of putting and said that it should be done away with. Just measure golfers on their tee to green ability and exclude putting since it was such a different swing.
5/24/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
As for shaking of the hands. That is normally a physical reaction to a release of tension. So being nervous and tense doesn't make your hands shake. The release of that tension might.

In other words you will more likely have your hands shake after making the winning put at the masters than before making it.
5/24/13
 
Duke of Hazards says:
if you read Terry's commentary above, it's spot on. there was never definitive evidence of any substantive difference. it boiled down to the collective majority opinion of the individuals comprising the ruling bodies. they didn't like the way it 'looked'. DOTPA. the 'defense of traditional putting act'. you know, because if we allow people to anchor, they're going to start teaching it in schools and then everyone will become a deviant.
5/24/13
 
legitimatebeef says:
OK Andy Rooney. The new rule is rather arbitrary but some of these analogies are way out of bounds. For instance the RoG do not and never have dictated the kind of clothing worn during golf. They also do not dictate the length of holes. All the stuff about grooming and flip-flops, that's more cultural than golf-specific. Even if the rule is arbitrary, it pertains strictly to the manner the ball is struck and that is a core element of golf. All these other things you are talking about are accessory at best. About distance, isn't it true that pretty much every generation of golfers has enjoyed better performing clubs and balls than the generation before it. Also is there really a need to categorically poo poo the flip flop? Dunno about you but when I am at or around the beach, I like to give the wingtips a rest.
5/24/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
LB what do you do for a living?

You write extreemly well. I enjoy reading your posts, even the ones I disagree with.
5/24/13
 
mjaber says:
Golf is no longer a "Gentleman's Game." Why? Because the "gentleman" who played the game when it was a "gentleman's game" no longer exists. The game has changed, and evolved. The ruling bodies sticking to the notion that something " doesn't look like golf" is sad, and snobbish. Why not ban Furyk & Gainey for their odd swings? Whether you agree or disagree with the ban, the USGA/R&A reasoning sets a bad precedent. If someone comes up with a new full swing that looks odd, but works better than the current "accepted" form, will they come up with a way to ban that as well?
5/24/13
 
FiddySnead says:
Its all technologies fault. God damn smart phones. I wrote this on a smart phone.
5/24/13
 
cvargo says:
I love my shorts on the course
5/24/13
 
joe jones says:
Jasonfish. You are wrong about Hogan. Just because he struggled with the yips, he despised Snead when he went initially to the croquet style and called Snead a spastic idiot for going side saddle.
5/24/13
 
Banker85 says:
I get your point WG, but i hope you are being sarcastic to prove a point.
5/24/13
 
joe jones says:
Everyone has misinterpreted why the governing bodies have changed the rule on anchoring,. They used the only reason they had by calling the stroke "untraditional and ungainly" to enforce the rule. Please notice they did not rule on long and belly putters being illegal. That would bring a hailstorm of litigation by the manufactures.They have no stomach (no pun intended) to take on legal challenges. They have still left themselves open to restraint of trade litigation if the ban creates loss of sales because golfers turn away from longer putters. I have been derided by stupid people on the practice green because I putt side saddle. I don't anchor but I have been called out already even though the rule will not go into effect until 2016. I have had people ask me what I will do when long putters are banned. When I ask if they have read the ruling they insist they have but they say it bans long putters. Fellow oobers have asked me why I defend anchoring.I don't.
5/24/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
I respect their right to ban it for no apparent reason (other than it is untraditional). I have no problem with that. In fact I'm pretty much on the fence in regards to the ban itself.

I do take exception to all of the people who have never used an anchored putter saying what the benefits of using an anchored putter are or aren't.
5/24/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
And I bet its really annoying on the putting green. I use to deal with it when anchoring wasn't banned.
5/24/13
 
onedollarwed says:
We've been through this before so belly up to the bar, fix yerself to that there stool, and I'll hit it on the button for ya!
Put an image in your mind of what archery looks like. Now here is a picture of modern archery: www.teamusa.org/USA-Archery/Programs/Get-Started
As you can see, unless you follow archery, it doesn't look like traditional archery: mindofmurph.blogspot.com/2012/06/current-middle-
Modern archery has tons of physical aids and a spotting scope, while the SCA archers might even make their own bows. Modern archers still look cool though, and all the tech has made them much better in terms of net results. The question really is what looks better? (Which is why Terry's comments are right on)
He is being sarcastic - pointing out the PGA's hypocrisy. I know Terry is not totally against the stylistic changes in golf - because he has said so in previous posts.
5/25/13
 
onedollarwed says:
Being a Rugby player, I'm a football traditionalist. American football does not look anything like football, and statistics are quickly becoming less and less comparable from year to year. Artificial turf is the worst offender. The Patriots always played on grass and mud until a few years ago - that's when Brady and Moss started to break all those records. I'm pretty sure Brady and Kraft were in favor of artificial turf as even fans knew how much better they performed on it. Peyton always sucked in NE before the turf too - so there was your trade-off. Now "Dome Teams can come into NE and win in the winter." This may seem off topic, but the NFL has let the evolution of rules, equipment, and stadiums get away from them. Now they're stuck with concussion issues they can't get out of unless they go back to natural grass (I would suggest a 3" minimum), wind, snow, mud (to slow everything down). This is never brought up though. However, many say old time football was much more violent - probably the low pay!
5/25/13
 
onedollarwed says:
But seriously: as lore has it, the first baseball batting glove was worn by a guy who had hurried up to bat after a round of golf. But when did the baseball hat become ubiquitous in golf? Cricketers still wear round hats, yes? Are soccer players allowed to wear hats? (like the goalie maybe?) Baseball made stronger limitations on elbow guards, and Hockey reduced padding on goalies - the latter to increase scoring (because 1-0 didn't "look like hockey.")
Golf, like most sports has become "juiced." The success of the old time stars and ambassadors has allowed for modern players to earn their living with golf and get better and better, and for the growth and popularity which has supported the industry and equipment development. Even though traditionalists hate it, TV watchers love to see somebody hit it 400yds. They have old-timey baseball leagues up here in NE, but nobody really watches it.
5/25/13
 
Franchi$e says:
Wedge Guy - I love your articles but you're off on this one with a red herring. Golfsmith7 was right on. They didn't ban the anchored stroke because it doesn't "look like golf," but because it is opposed to a golf swing as such and hinders the free movement of the body, minimizing the fundamental challenges of the game.
At first I was totally opposed, because it seemed like they were banning the stroke just because it doesn't "look like golf." But then I read the 40 page document that the rules committee provided to explain the rule, and now I totally agree with it.
Also, for 99.9% of us, who cares? Dude, your normal tee shot is WAY better than that - take a mulligan. You have an extra club in your bag - knock yourself out. You use an anchored stoke - do your thing, man. This is a game made up of hackers playing a GAME. The PGA pros aren't allowed to use an anchored stroke, but show me one course manager who won’t take your money to play at his course because you use an anchored stroke.
5/26/13
 
birdieXris says:
I just don't understand all the issues. Imo it's just that they don't like the way it looks. Personally, I would love it if people kept using belly putters. Hopefully it's as uncomfortable for them as it was for me. Ugh. An awful feeling. I wouldn't have voted for the ban. I see it as a non-issue. Seems like the usga and r&a have the same sickness as congress... More concerned about making more laws rather than concentrating on enforcing all the ones we already have.
5/26/13
 
meddle says:
I just know the rule change will drive people away from the game, that's why I don't like it.

Golf is a game in decline. The ruling bodies need to address how they are going to save it, not make rules that ostracize its players.
5/26/13
 
onedollarwed says:
Camel toe putters? Could this bring people back to the game?
5/28/13
 
Tim Horan says:
@onedollarwed - With respect the archery analogy is not really valid. The picture that you tagged is one relating to Compound Bows (those with eccentric wheels at the end of the limbs. The archery governing bodies quickly recognised that these bows had advantages (trigger release, graduated pull weight) over the standard recurve bow and created a separate category for these bows effectively banning them from "traditional archery competitions" They compete on the same field at club and county level but the results are categorised and have separate prizes.
7/4/13
 
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