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Brandel Chamblee talks truth with anchoring ban tirade

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The USGA’s so-called “anchoring ban,” Rule 14-1b, has been in effect since January 1, 2016. In some sense, then, it’s interesting to see the controversial bit of legislation as a hot topic of discussion in the summer of 2017.

Nevertheless, with the prominent example of PGA Tour Champions dynamo, Bernhard Langer, pushing permissibility to its absolute extreme with his putting stroke, the matter merits further discussion.

Enter Brandel Chamblee, a man whose middle name might as well be “further discussion.”

Chamblee involved himself in a Twitter debate about the legality of Langer’s putting stroke and has followed up at length with additional thoughts in a piece for Golf Channel’s website.

And since the matter of Rule 14-1b remains a topic of conversation, it’s worth looking at what this prominent voice voiced, as it were.

Chamblee’s essential contention is that by inserting the word “intent” in the text of the rule, players (ahem, Bernhard Langer) have a loophole to essentially anchor their putters as long as they claim they didn’t intend to.

No one would doubt Langer anchors as much of his forearm as he can against his chest and keeps the butt end of his long putter as close to his chest as possible. However, as millimeters of space remains between the grip and Langer’s chest and he doesn’t “intend” to anchor the putter (even if it occasionally touches his chest or shirt), he’s in the clear, per the USGA.

“Intent is the get-out-of-jail-free card for both the player and those who are meant to police the player,” Chamblee writes.

Interestingly, Langer’s real “intent” would seem to be to get as close to possible to anchoring without technically violating the rule. And if he crosses the line, well, he didn’t intend to, so… (collective shrug emoji).

This doesn’t sit well with Chamblee, who is troubled by the USGA’s abdication of adjudication on the matter and Langer’s lack of concern for placing himself beyond reproach, an essential element of the spirit of the game and the Rules of Golf, in Chamblee’s mind.

“Sports is about entertainment, but at its best it also communicates values…Which is why I cannot believe what I am seeing on PGA Tour Champions, with regard to the putting strokes of Bernhard Langer and Scott McCarron.”

So, what to do? Well, first we have to agree collectively whether we expect our professional golfers to strive to place themselves beyond reproach, well removed from any hint of suspicion, or whether we are comfortable with those inside the ropes pushing the rules to their legal limit, playing golf under clouds of suspicion.

If we’re not comfortable, Chamblee is again write in suggesting this rewrite of Rule 14-1b if the benefits of “anchoring” are truly what golf’s governing body wants to stamp out:

“The rule should be rewritten to state that there must be a clear separation between the club, the gripping hand and all parts of the forearm, from the body. That in the case of any part of the club, the gripping hand or the forearm brushing against one’s shirt in the course of the stroke, it will be reviewed by the committee, for the randomness of its nature and for the potential benefit of the contact.”

 

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. kennyboy

    Jul 29, 2017 at 4:36 am

    when men have long stiff shafts in their hands you will get friction.Bernard needs to look at himself in the mirror and ask why am i still playing golf at all.Has he got nothing better to do ,surely he could anchor his shaft to better use. Scott mac needed to get his shaft into play its been awhile, his shaft is newer so its probably stiffer too.

  2. Brandon

    Jul 7, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    You are an idiot.

  3. Jimmy D

    Jul 6, 2017 at 10:41 am

    RUKM?…the proposed fix to this lame rule is: “The rule should be rewritten to state that there must be a clear separation between the club, the gripping hand and all parts of the forearm, from the body. That in the case of any part of the club, the gripping hand or the forearm brushing against one’s shirt in the course of the stroke, it will be reviewed by the committee, for the randomness of its nature and for the potential benefit of the contact.” What is the definition of “clear separation” and what is the “potential benefit of brushing against one’s shirt in the course of a stroke”? (BTW, I sometimes do that with my 35″ blade putter and baggy shirts, and it does not help!)
    How about the USGA/R&A either ban ALL long putters or just admit the absurdity of rule 14-1b and eliminate it completely? This concern about anchoring has always been much ado about nothing, and this lame rule revealed a lack of integrity and courage to implement an equipment rule banning the long putters.

  4. OTP

    Jul 6, 2017 at 5:44 am

    Anchoring forearms/elbows against the body to putt has been part of the game since the start, especially for crouchers. Repeal the anchor rule nonsense.
    If the USGA is trying to preserve the integrity of the game, leave the players alone and dial back the equipment they allowed to ruin so many courses and render pre-1990s tournament results irrelevant.

  5. Dave R

    Jul 6, 2017 at 12:06 am

    Brandel should stick to talking about things he understands. (NOTHING) .

    • Big Richard Cox

      Jul 9, 2017 at 8:52 am

      You see Chamblees wife? He’s married to a young chick from Morning Drive. He looks like her Grandfather standing next to her. He must pretend to have lots of money.

  6. Grizz01

    Jul 5, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    First, the USGA should never permitted the long anchoring putter. Cat got out of the bag.

    Second, the solution is really simple. Make the rule that while striking the ball that: if two hands are on the club they must be touching; or use only one hand is acceptable to strike the ball. No allowing any other part of the body to touch the club.

  7. ALF

    Jul 5, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    I’m 6’1′ and if I lean way over (ala M. Wie),
    I can belly putt with a 33-36 inch putter. And I have
    No beer belly. Limiting length will not help.

  8. Eye4Golf-Albuquerque

    Jul 5, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    The big anchoring issue was all about when majors were won with them. Follow the money and only some OEM companies made a handful to have skin in the game. Look today at all the high end legal putters and I can’t believe that these OEM wanted the anchoring putters banned for their own profit. During their heyday long putters probably didn’t account to more than 2-3% of total putter sales so it was easier to cancel production via USGA and they probably blew their own whistle. If a MLB gets hit on his fabric/shirt he takes first base, so if anchoring touches shirt how is that different/legal? Regulate the length and problem solved.

    • JJVas

      Jul 5, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      I’d look weird using a 33″ putter Langer-style from my knees… totally legal… but weird.

  9. Dick

    Jul 5, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Lanier anchors. So does Mccarron on occasion.Maximize the putter length and the “problem” if there ever was one, is solved.

  10. Bobbyeggroll

    Jul 5, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    2 Years ago I played in our club championship and ticked a few grains of sand on my back swing after hitting it in a bunker. I didn’t intend to but I did and it cost me the Championship flight due to the penalty. Bernhard isn’t a cheater but if he doesn’t intend to brush his shirt or chest while putting does that mean he doesn’t violate in the same manner I did?

    • Michael

      Jul 5, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Bunker stroke does not equal putting stroke. Apples and oranges.

  11. scott

    Jul 5, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    I am all for the anchoring ban and agree with chamblee 100%. The pga insisted that anchoring the putter was an advantage so the did away with it, but there are too many loopholes. I am a huge golf fan and will watch any tournament in t.v. weather it be a web.com event, a lpga, and champions tore. I have watched langer play alot and he does anchor his putter. The PGA should step up and fix the rule. As one poster said, make it were a putter can only be a certain length

  12. Bob Jones

    Jul 5, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Or we could just get rid of the anchoring ban.

    • izzlist of izzles

      Jul 5, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      +a s*%t ton
      USGA is a bunch of sad people.

  13. JJVas

    Jul 5, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Sorry USGA… evidently your “we don’t like the way belly putters look” rule about stoke integrity blah blah blah had some unintended consequences. If only your research had anything, and I do mean ANYTHING that proved your point. Oh well. I’ve been doing the anchored practice stroke and 1/2″ off-the-chest stroke since January 2016 just like Langer, and you know what? I can’t tell the difference in performance. I now have to mark 2-footers so I don’t accidentally anchor tap-ins like I have for the past 22 years, so my rounds do take a bit longer. You’ve made your bed, USGA, so enjoy it. By the way, continue to do nothing about golf ball technology and stroke and distance. Keep renovating courses for $4M when each company can have a “tour” ball for $4/each. Also, continue to insist on OB and lost ball rules while pushing pace of play… it TOTALLY makes sense.

  14. JM

    Jul 5, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    I had no intent of hitting my ball on the other side of that white line. I am going to play it anyway.

  15. Exrog

    Jul 5, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Make 36″ the legal length for a putter. Problem solved.

    • Tommy Esparza

      Jul 5, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      I agree…belly & long putters were designed for anchoring. If anchoring is no longer allowed, those putters should be banned!

  16. Jon Silverberg

    Jul 5, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Ever since the USGA announced the new rule, I have been deeply puzzled. I used a long putter for about a year ten years ago, so I know what the stroke is. The new rule doesn’t prevent a golfer from holding his forward forearm frozen in the air, with the fist holding the top of the grip being held frozen anywhere from a half inch to 6 inches from the sternum (I’m almost 70, and I can do it easily, as can many of my age cohort.). There is no functional difference between that and anchoring the fist against the sternum when it comes to using the long putter. The rule change ended up being much sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  17. Big Wally

    Jul 5, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Fox had a closeup of Langer putting at the US Senior Open and it was clearly visible that he was anchoring against his chest. And this was a USGA Championship. I guess they were gun shy about another rules controversy. If they want to get rid of it they need to limit the length of the putter so it can’t reach the chest. The USGA has no problem putting limitations on other equipment. This nonsense about intent is ridiculous. Maybe that should ask about his feelings too.

  18. Troy Sheaffer

    Jul 5, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Brandum, actually it’s my understanding that anchoring had supposedly been illegal for decades, but wasn’t strictly enforced. I don’t personally like the anchoring ban, but if it’s a rule all should follow to the letter. I rarely agree with Chamblee on anything, on this issue he is correct.

  19. mlecuni

    Jul 5, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    If there is a re-writting, it should involve the club lenght.

  20. Brandumb

    Jul 5, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Who cares? The rule was a stupid knee jerk reaction based 100% on optics that everyone knew guys were gonna work around.

    Furthermore, does anyone actually watch the “senior” tour? Or care? Berhard Langer is still good. Hooray. Talk more Web.com please.

  21. RCM

    Jul 5, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Are there any benefits for golfer anchoring putter? Are there any truth that climate change are caused by man? Both are a hoax.

    • Quine Duhem

      Jul 5, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      The heat from friction caused by anchoring putters caused climate change. A strictly enforced ban would mean a safe return for coal-fired power stations.

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