It would seem that the long drama surrounding long putters, or more specifically the anchored strokes the player using the long putter employs, is coming to an end. On Monday, the PGA Tour announced that it will adopt the ban on anchoring that was passed down by the United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient in May of this year.
The debate swirling around anchoring came to a head in recent years, as Adam Scott‘s victory at the Masters marked the fourth major championship of the last seven to be won by a player with a long putter. Webb Simpson in the 2012 U.S. Open, Ernie Els in the 2012 Open Championship and Keegan Bradley in the 2011 PGA Championship earned their victories with long putters.
By now, we’ve heard all the debate about whether allowing the anchored stroke is good for the game of golf as a whole. Prior to the ban, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem stated that his organization was interested in growing the game, and he was concerned that banning the anchored stroke would dissuade some older players, or those who simply enjoyed using the longer stroke from playing.
However, it is truly in the best interest of the game for the Tour to abide by the Rules Of Golf as sent down by its governing bodies.
While I don’t necessarily agree that removing the use of the anchored stroke adds meaningful value to the game, having the biggest professional golf organization engaged in a lengthy battle with the governing bodies is a bad look for both parties. The ban isn’t going into place tomorrow, and the best players on the planet have two full years to prepare for the change. They will either adapt and thrive, or they will fall off.
I tend to believe the former, but sport is the ultimate meritocracy — you either adapt to the rules and equipment and thrive, or you fall off the map. It’s cold, but it happens.
What will be interesting to see is what individual players will do about this. USA Today reports that players like Scott, Tim Clark and Carl Pettersson are exploring their legal options. Clark has stated that he has a medical issue which keeps him from rotating his forearms properly for a conventional putting stroke, and that he and other players will “fight for our livelihoods” to keep the anchored stroke. While medical concerns should be addressed, it needs to be done quickly and not drawn out for years.
In the end, the Tour definitely did the right thing by not engaging the USGA and R&A in a rules squabble. Perhaps there will be another one down the road, but this was not the place for the Tour to make their stand.