What's up Sand Trap!
Just joined today, 22 Handicap in Charleston, SC. I've always looked at this site for years but had to join TODAY because of this discussion. (usually just like to read the comments, rather than comment myself).
As someone who has just picked up this great game, I'm very torn on this issue. I think it's a sad state of affairs in the game.
First, if the USGA wants to ban anchoring (which is fine by me because they are not banning the putter at all, See http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-instruction/2012-11/photos-anchoring-rule#slide=1, for different ways to use the same putter but not anchor), it's perfectly within their jurisdiction to do so. Sure some people may not agree with it but part of their "job" is to define the Rules of Golf. Unless we are saying that we want more than one governing body over golf, this is what we have. (P.S. I'm against bifurcation as well. One set of rules. People don't even play by the rules we have now, so why 2 sets. No logic at all.)
Second, for those against the ban, I have a few questions (some of these may have been answered already in various threads). Because part of the problem to me is that the golfing community is not asking the right questions, especially the media.
If you are one who practices of the anchored method of putting, did you start with a traditional putting stroke? If so, why did you switch? I ask this because one of the #1 reasons people are against the ban is because they believe it doesn't provide an advantage. With this statement, people also usually comment on the fact there is no statistical evidence to ban such a stroke. This is a very important question because I find only a few acceptable answers that won't give way to an advantage. These are (and feel free to add any that you know of that I don't mention): "I like the look of it better," "It suits my eyesight better," "I like the feel of it better," etc. The problem I see is that these questions are never asked to the touring pros that use it. Even if you answer the question with, "I like the feel of the club better," I would like the person asking to follow up with, "Why do you like the feel better?" or "what's so different about the feel?"
I wish the media would challenge the players more in press conferences to the reason they use the stroke, especially if it doesn't provide an advantage. Speaking of which, on Morning Drive this morning, Ted Bishop, PGA or America President, told a story about an 65 year old member at his club that told him that if he has to go back to using the traditional method of putting, he would probably take up fishing instead. Now this statement alone does not tell you that the member has gained an advantage but ask him the same question that I proposed. What's his answer? He can't say, "It's easier," "it's more efficient," "I had the yips," "I was nervous over 2 foot putts," because this would imply that there is an advantage or at the very least a elimination of a variable previously present in his previous traditional putting technique. Of course people can try to look for stats or point out the lack of statistical data to back their point, but does every conversation has to be backed up with stats?
Third, Why can't someone or an entity (A governing body such as the USGA or R&A) right a wrong (or what they perceive as a wrong) just because it's been allowed for 25+ years. As an African American, you can understand why I believe this makes no sense. Of course we could not have abolished slavery and not abolished Jim Crow laws and just left the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on the table to collect dust. Why? Because it's been done this way for 400 years and no one said or did anything about it, right? Of course not, that's not how the world works. It's called progression, it's called change, it's called finally doing something that should have been done a long time ago. It's never too late. Obviously golf and civil rights are 2 different issues but the premise is the same. How many businesses would or have failed in the dot.com boom because they said, "Well, people have been making phone orders for our entire existence, why take online orders now?"
Lastly, I firmly believe the anchoring method is a different stroke and that's what this comes down to. The USGA wants everyone to use the same stroke to get the ball in the hole. There will be variations such as grip, stance, even length of putter, but overall the same principle of motion should be used. If this were not the case, they would not have outlawed the other ways of putting that were previously used. The idea that the USGA shouldn't allow metal drivers with 460cc heads, roll back the golf ball, or iron shafts is bogus because while the equipment was changed, the method of using it did not. That's real fact for you. I don't know why this is even mentioned in the argument. Yeah, people hit the ball farther, the ball gets in the air easier, etc, but they are still swinging the club the same way Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods had, have, and will be swinging the club because that's the way golf is played. Of course, if the driver would self-correct your swing plane and impact position, then we have a real argument.