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Ban on anchoring the club is not good for golf

February 4, 2013
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor (mmathison@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

The United States Golf Association, along with the Royal and Ancient, said in November that there will be a new rule effective in 2016 banning anchoring a club in making a stroke.

Basically, this has everything to do with long and belly putters being anchored to the body in making a stroke.

Forget the fact that anchoring has been around for about 30 years.

Forget that a buddy of mine started putting this way in 1991 with a Slotline "Duck" putter.

If the USGA and R&A go through with this ban it very will could go down as the worst rule decision in the game of golf.

"One of the most fundamental things about the game of golf is we believe the player should hold the club away from his body and swing it freely," said Mike Davis, the executive director of the USGA, at the time of the announcement in an article by Bob Harig of ESPN.com. "We think this is integral to the traditions of the game. Golf is a game of skill and challenge, and we think that is an important part of it.

"The player's challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge. Our conclusion is that the Rules of Golf should be amended to preserve the traditional character of the golf swing by eliminating the growing practice of anchoring the club."

Terrible decision.

This discussion really got going because three of the last five major winners used these kind of putters - Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els.

People had gone to the belly and long putters out of shear desperation, myself included.

I then finally concluded that I was a terrible putter regardless of the length or style of putter I used.

"Ten years ago, no one ever went to the belly putter unless they couldn't putt," Jim Furyk said to Doug Ferguson of The Associated Press. "So I didn't really think of it as unfair. I thought of it as desperation, if that makes sense. For me, it was still desperation, but I've seen some guys that have gone to it where they are decent putters, but they think it's a better way."

The rules of golf are the same for Tiger and Rory as you and I and anyone else.

The reason the ban is bad is because the 30-handicapper, the 22-handicapper, the 13-handicapper or the scratch golfer at the local club will never battle with Tiger, Rory or Phil at any time.

I spent 17 years in the golf business and watched the use of the belly and long putters enhance the game of many amateurs.

I know a gentleman who before he died a few years ago, would use his long putter anywhere within 40 yards of the greens because he was an atrocious chipper of the ball and, as long as there were no obstacles between he and the putting surface, the long putter came out. Because he had a terrible short game, he was also terrible with a short putter.

He and I went to Scotland in 1999 and played seven rounds of golf and I watched him hit "putts" that defied logic. But, he was confident as long as he didn't have to chip.

Tour player Tim Clark uses a long putter because of a genetic condition that keeps him from turning his forearms and wrists inward. He has used the long putter, anchored to his chest, for a long time and has won the Players Championship, Australian Open, Scottish Open and twice the South African Open.

Charlie Owens used a long putter on the senior tour for years and won two tournaments. According to Owens, he had trouble bending over the ball because of a surgically fused left knee due to a training accident he sustained in 1952 as an Army paratrooper.

Orville Moody, long considered one of the worst putters ever on the tour, won the 1989 U.S. Senior Open using a long putter.

Johnny Miller, one of the best ball strikers ever on tour, turned into a terrible putter in his 40s. He used a 44-inch putter, anchored to his left forearm, to win the 1987 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Rocco Mediate has used a long putter for years due to a bad back.

Some 19-year-old out there trying to be a tour player has done nothing but putt with either a belly or long putter and will now have to change his life.

The biggest change in golf during the past 30 years has been the metal wood.

It started in 1979 with the Pittsburg Perssimon by Taylor Made Golf founder Gary Adams.

In 1991, Callaway Golf introduced the Big Bertha Metal Wood, the first oversized driver.

Titanium club heads were introduced in the late 1990s and, due to the hardness of the metal, it allowed the driver face to be made thin, thus coining the term "trampoline effect."

But, those didn't get banned,

Jack Nicklaus has talked for years about rolling back the golf ball.

Anyone remember balata golf balls?

One thinned wedge and it was time to throw it into the lake.

The balls have gotten better and better and better, yet nothing has been done to them.

The invention of the rescue clubs has made the 1-, 2- and 3-irons extinct in the bag of almost every amateur, not to mention some 4- and 5-irons.

Yet, those weren't banned.

But, the USGA and the R&A are going to ban the "anchored" stroke?

Please.

So, which team did Steelers fans root for?

Tuesday is the cutoff for the boys portion of the Wheeling Hospital Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Basketball Championships.

It appears that Class 4A is set with St. Clairsville hosting Martins Ferry and Steubenville welcoming Harrison Central next week.

In Class 5A, Indian Creek, which takes on Union Local today and Martins Ferry Tuesday (weather permitting) is third, behind Parkersburg South and ahead of University. Morgantown is first, as of now.

Steubenville Catholic Central is atop the Class 2A standings because Wellsville is ineligible. Clay-Battelle will take second with Wheeling Central, Shadyside and Cameron fighting it our for the third and fourth spots.

Buckeye Trail is leading in Class 3A with Magnolia and River fighting for second and Fort Frye and Monroe Central battling for fourth.

In Class 1A, Bishop Donahue and Conotton Valley are the top two with Paden City third and Beallsville and Morgantown Trinity tussling for fourth.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com)

 
 

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