While it’s probably going to be harder to convince the Royal & Ancient of the merits, I have a suggestion to settle the debate about the use of an anchored stroke with the long putter—make it a condition of competition just like the “one-ball rule” currently.
This would allow the USGA and the R&A to use the ban on anchored strokes in its events, but would give the professional tours the option of not using it.
We haven’t heard a final decision from the United States Golf Association and the R&A, the rulling bodies of golf, since the PGA Tour joined the PGA of America in opposing the proposed ban on the anchored stroke commonly used with long putters back. They believe the ban, starting with rules changes in 2016, is needed to preserve the spirit of the game after ignoring it more than 20 years.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem indicated that while all should play by the same rules at the top levels that occasional adjustments would not be bad, siding with those who like the idea of bifurcation. He also cited that his policy board did not see enough evidence to suggest players had an advantage.
“We hold the USGA in highest regard as a key part of the game of golf,” Finchem said. “We don’t attempt to denigrate that position in any way whatsoever. It’s just on this issue, we think if they were to move forward they would be making a mistake.”
“It’s just been too long,” said Jim Furyk, a member of the PGA Tour Policy Board. “Every sport that I can think of has different sets of rules for different abilities and styles, and I realize that’s not what the USGA wants to do. I just really don’t understand why.”
It does appear the R&A’s Peter Dawson remains firmly behind the proposed ban. “People have taken positions that they will now have to back off from or maintain,” he said. “The negotiating table is no place for rule-making. Obviously, feelings are strong. We shall have to see where it goes. The bodies in golf have always been working well together and mutually respectful of each other’s position. But this latest incident has set this back. I know many will say we were late doing this and that is unarguably true. But we did react to an upsurge in use of anchored strokes and one might say it is never too late to do the right thing.”
Playing in the Demaret Division of the Legends of Golf, Lee Trevino switched to a long putter like the one being used by his partner Mike Hill and was quick to note how it helped him.”Now I see why they want to make this one illegal,” he said. “It’s like cheating. I swear to God. This is the easiest thing I’ve ever seen to putt with.”
The rulesmakers probably cringed again when Adam Scott won the Masters, using an anchored stroke with a long putter to make crucial putts down the stretch, but it’s time for them to let golfers know what’s going to happen with the proposed ban.