Former U.S. Golf Association Technical Director Frank Thomas has never been shy about speaking his mind, even if his opinions run contrary to his old bosses in Far Hills, N.J. When he talks, I always listen. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that Thomas disagrees with the USGA/R&A proposal to ban players from anchoring long putters and belly putters against their bodies.
“I don’t believe that there is a problem with anchoring a club while making a stroke,” Thomas said on his Franklygolf.com web site. “In one form or another, some of the greatest golfers have used anchoring for many years.
“The statistics used to determine the best putters do not indicate that there is any advantage gained when using a belly or long putter. The best putters use conventional short putters.”
Thomas said he disagrees with the USGA/R&A premise that in proposing the change is not a performance related issue but one that keeps the traditional swing or stroke in place.
“I personally believe that it is a performance issue based on the vague references to the effect that anchoring has on the challenge the game presents, and that anchoring putters is growing in popularity among elite the golfers and instructors are promoting it,” Thomas said. “There is also a concerted effort to emphasize that this proposal is not an equipment rules change — which avoids other complications such as producing evidence that there is a problem, as well as potential litigation when dealing with a tangible product. Changing a playing rule does not require quantifiable evidence that there is a problem but in some cases neither does a change to the equipment rules.
“The concern I have about this obvious tap-dance is that it appears to be designed to squeeze the long and belly putter to death slowly by making their use so awkward and ineffectual that they will eventually fade away.”
That’s some Frank talk.