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Anchored Putters Rules Change (Effective January 1, 2016)

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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.

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Just speaking for my own experience, when I play a round of golf I don't usually see people putting unless they're in the group ahead of me or my group.  At MOST we're talking about 7 golfers.  I don't stand around on the previous green to watch the group behind me putt.

I'm assuming that most golfers don't stand around watching other people putt all day, am I right?

With that small of a sample size, I hardly think any "personal observation" data tells us anything.  But it seems to me that putter sales would be a lot more relevant, considering the cost of belly/long putters and the fact that most people probably don't own more than one.  If you want numbers on how many people are using an anchored stroke, look at the sales.  If you want an estimate at whether the anchored stroke is becoming more popular and threatening traditional putting, look at the INCREASES in sales over the last few years.

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Originally Posted by dave67az

Just speaking for my own experience, when I play a round of golf I don't usually see people putting unless they're in the group ahead of me or my group.  At MOST we're talking about 7 golfers.  I don't stand around on the previous green to watch the group behind me putt.

I'm assuming that most golfers don't stand around watching other people putt all day, am I right?

With that small of a sample size, I hardly think any "personal observation" data tells us anything.  But it seems to me that putter sales would be a lot more relevant, considering the cost of belly/long putters and the fact that most people probably don't own more than one.  If you want numbers on how many people are using an anchored stroke, look at the sales.  If you want an estimate at whether the anchored stroke is becoming more popular and threatening traditional putting, look at the INCREASES in sales over the last few years.

The only others I'd add are perhaps the group behind me or on some random adjacent hole while we're waiting for the green ahead of us to clear.  I'll only "pay attention" to 7 other golfers, but might have a chance to see 8 or 12 randomly at a distance.  Ultimately, you're right ... not exactly a good sample size.  On the other hand, if you're playing around different people at different courses all the time, that small sample can add up.

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Originally Posted by SCfanatic35

I must have clicked on the wrong thread. Thought this one was about anchoring putters.

First they came for the anchored putters, and I said nothing ...

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Originally Posted by Mooka

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.

I like this guy.  He's almost as long-winded as me.

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Originally Posted by dave67az

Just speaking for my own experience, when I play a round of golf I don't usually see people putting unless they're in the group ahead of me or my group.  At MOST we're talking about 7 golfers.  I don't stand around on the previous green to watch the group behind me putt.

I'm assuming that most golfers don't stand around watching other people putt all day, am I right?

With that small of a sample size, I hardly think any "personal observation" data tells us anything.  But it seems to me that putter sales would be a lot more relevant, considering the cost of belly/long putters and the fact that most people probably don't own more than one.  If you want numbers on how many people are using an anchored stroke, look at the sales.  If you want an estimate at whether the anchored stroke is becoming more popular and threatening traditional putting, look at the INCREASES in sales over the last few years.

I see an awful lot on the practice putting greens every day though.......  I doubt I've seen 10 using an anchored stroke in the last year.  And for whatever it's worth, I don't care one way or another about the ban, except that I will continue to abide by the rules of golf as I always have.

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Originally Posted by Golfingdad

The only others I'd add are perhaps the group behind me or on some random adjacent hole while we're waiting for the green ahead of us to clear.  I'll only "pay attention" to 7 other golfers, but might have a chance to see 8 or 12 randomly at a distance.  Ultimately, you're right ... not exactly a good sample size.  On the other hand, if you're playing around different people at different courses all the time, that small sample can add up.

This is true.

I guess if you play a LOT with different people it may be more relevant...you know, like if you were an "avid" golfer as defined in other threads.

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Originally Posted by SCfanatic35

So why did you only reply with 1 sentence then?

I would have typed more, but after I quoted his post it filled up my memory and I had to cut it short due to computer lag.

Besides, he already said everything I've said...no need to expound on a perfect first post.

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Originally Posted by dave67az

This is true.

I guess if you play a LOT with different people it may be more relevant...you know, like if you were an "avid" golfer as defined in other threads.

LOL!  Good point!  And since I'm clearly not "avid" (neither is fourputt, if I remember correctly) then I won't worry about it. ;)

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Didn't check to see if this was posted yet, but good on Colin for speaking up: http://espn.go.com/golf/story/_/id/8982944/colin-montgomerie-raps-pga-tour-opposition-long-putter-ban

Quote:
"This has opened up a whole new can of worms," Europe's former Ryder Cup captain told Sky Sports. "It's a very dangerous situation we are getting ourselves into and I do hope they can sort this out very, very quickly."
"I thought, as we all did, that the rules of golf were set by the R&A; and the USGA. Tim Finchem has obviously thought otherwise," Montgomerie said. "I think we should go with what the R&A; and USGA feel. Whether the long putter should have been banned 20 years ago or not, it should be banned now."

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Originally Posted by iacas

Here's the deal: they don't feel it's a stroke, and they feel the game of golf will be better off if the practice is prohibited. They're doing it because they think it's the right thing to do.

They've been very clear about that. There was a time when we'd admire a group that stood up for what they thought was right. Now I guess we just say "there seems to me no logical reason to have this fight." They're doing what they think is best for the integrity of the game. Both the USGA and the R&A.;

I am going to have to disagree with you. I know that is the official position..it just doesn't add up to me. As i mentioned this stroke has been referenced in writing back into the 1920's according to one of the magazines i read on a flight, it has been used for the last 5 to 8 years on every tour...and now all of the sudden after 2 majors won by guys using them it is now what they think is best for the integrity of the game...sorry it doesn't smell right.

Why would it now be so important to the integrity of the game? In my dealings with employees, my children, kids on teams i have coached i have heard hundreds of semi-reasonable explainations of things that just don't add up. Often times they include parts of the truth but virtually never the full truth...there is something missing to the explaination. I do admire a group that stands up for what is right - I think they are misguided in this case.

on a lighter note I had a meeting today at Merion with the USGA - I asked the guy we were with if we could have conversation on anchored putters. I said it with a smile, he just laughed and said we would keep this conversation to the topic on the agenda!! LOL!!

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I want to add a bit. Those that argue that the rules shouldn't change because it has been this way for x years and those who argue that because it wasn't done that way in the past are employing an argument that in formal debate, are call appeals to tradition, a logical fallacy. I just find it amusing that both sides of this conversation employ a logically flawed argument, and neither side recognizes it.:-P

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I guess at the end of the day this feels like a power play by the USGA and the R&A; and i just don't like it. We (the golf industry) need members and numbers to grow and this doesn't help. If the ruling body wants to help the game lets get more people involved in the growth of it and leave this silly arguement to a time when golf courses are full, being built, prcies are going up and people are running to a part of the game...then if you lose 2 or 3 percent of your potential golfers it won't matter.

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Originally Posted by allin

I want to add a bit. Those that argue that the rules shouldn't change because it has been this way for x years and those who argue that because it wasn't done that way in the past are employing an argument that in formal debate, are call appeals to tradition, a logical fallacy. I just find it amusing that both sides of this conversation employ a logically flawed argument, and neither side recognizes it.

No.  That is only a fallacy in a positivist discussion, not a normative discussion--factual vs. ideal.  This is about what golf is and what golf should be, its a normative discussion.  There are plenty of topics where reliance on the past is important and helpful.  Google "stare decisis" for example.

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Originally Posted by Lefty-Golfer

I guess at the end of the day this feels like a power play by the USGA and the R&A; and i just don't like it. We (the golf industry) need members and numbers to grow and this doesn't help. If the ruling body wants to help the game lets get more people involved in the growth of it and leave this silly arguement to a time when golf courses are full, being built, prcies are going up and people are running to a part of the game...then if you lose 2 or 3 percent of your potential golfers it won't matter.

Huh? The power play is by the PGA Tour and the equipment manufacturers.

If you rank the reasons that people are either not taking up golf, or leaving the game then anchored putting strokes is going to be so far down the list that it's not worth worrying about.

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Originally Posted by dsc123

No.  That is only a fallacy in a positivist discussion, not a normative discussion--factual vs. ideal.  This is about what golf is and what golf should be, its a normative discussion.  There are plenty of topics where reliance on the past is important and helpful.  Google "stare decisis" for example.

Very true!

Though "tradition" doesn't have a place in some debates, it does in this one because one of the main purposes of the USGA is to preserve the game so that our descendants can enjoy a game that is similar enough to the one we and our ancestors played that the rewards they gain from mastering the traditional challenges of golf will be as enjoyable as the ones we experienced.

The problem is, it's a gray area and which traditions are up for debate and which ones aren't seems to be the big sticking point.  Club design (head size, grooves, weighting, shaft materials, head materials, etc), electronic equipment (GPS, levels, weather apps, etc) all come into play.  Some are allowed, some are not.

I think those that are arguing that "it's been around for a long time and the USGA never stopped it" are probably coming from the standpoint that it's not a threat to tradition since it's been going on for so long and golf is still here.  And while I understand how one can have that point of view, I also understand the opposing argument that putter sales and use of anchored strokes by tour players has increased by such a large margin over the past few years that this "non-issue" of 20 years ago has now increased enough in popularity to show up on the USGA and R&A;'s radar as something that could POSSIBLY change the nature of the putting game.

So should the USGA and R&A; only act on things that have already been detrimental to the nature of the game, or should they be proactive and act at a time when they feel that something MAY threaten the future of the game?

I know where my vote stands.  But then again, I'm a proactive person.  Kind of a requirement in my last job.

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