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Anchored putter debate still smolders on the PGA Tour Champions

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Scott McCarron, who called out Phil Mickelson for “cheating” when he put a Ping Eye 2 wedge in play in 2012, is himself still embroiled in a debate over the legality of his putting stroke.

Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch talked to McCarron as he prepares to take the biggest bite he can out of Bernhard Langer’s pie on the PGA Tour Champions this season.

Not surprisingly, the topic of the anchored putting stroke came up. McCarron, also not surprisingly, doesn’t think much of Brandel Chamblee’s July take that players have a get out of jail free card thanks to the “intent” wording in the USGA’s anchoring ruling.

“Brandel and I have been friends for a long time. I’ve worked in the TV business. I know you say things sometimes you aren’t really sure about. And he usually does his homework. He’s very diligent. This time he missed the boat.”

Lynch also quoted fellow Champions player Tom Pernice, Jr., who doesn’t think the debate over Langer and McCarron’s putting has been put to bed.

“It’s a huge issue…A lot of players aren’t going to say anything about it to the press. It’s not fair. If you’re playing for a living, there’s a skill level in putting and that is being able to control the fulcrum point.”

“It’s close enough that he has a reference for his fulcrum point, OK? That’s close enough. That hand, it cannot be touching when he starts, but at some point in the stroke it can rub up against his shirt and that’s within the rule. In my opinion that’s enough of a reference to be able to control the fulcrum point.”

In other words, Pernice agrees with Chamblee, and he suggests other pros do as well. While McCarron and Langer aren’t technically cheating, they aren’t operating with integrity, he seems to say.

In the judicial sphere, laws are the floor of moral conduct: the bare minimum we’re expected to do. Ethical standards, however, set a higher bar. Pernice suggests the non-anchored-anchoring folks fail to clear this second hurdle.

What do you think, GolfWRX members?

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. jc

    Jan 10, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    how about…long putters could not have ONE grip longer than 12 inches

  2. jc

    Jan 10, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    we have a few who still use the broomstick and I notice that they pullback gimmes tend to be longer since they can reach out further to get the ball….and of course, the two club drop is a LONG drop

  3. Mat

    Jan 9, 2018 at 4:46 am

    Putters should be no longer than 3″ longer than the shortest club. This makes a 38″ counterbalance ok with a 35″ wedge. The rule would only need to be that the club cannot be in contact with anything other than the arms/hands. If you want to lock your wrists into your belly, fine. You don’t have fulcrum control. If that putter handle makes contact with your belly during the stroke, haha on you.

    To the broom sweepers that putt facing forward, sorry. It should be eliminated from the amateur game like the square wedges – in 12ish years.

  4. Scott

    Jan 8, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    I agree, McCaaron is hypocritical, I remember when he called Phil out for not following the “INTENT” of the groove rule, but excuses himself. Live what you preach my friend.

  5. Bill Mullen

    Jan 8, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    Observing both Langer and McCarron since the rule has been in place, both, especially Langer, are essentially anchoring. I don’t know about McCarron but Langer is openly a committed Christian who claims to believe the Bible and he Bible is clear that even the appearance of cheating (the same as lying) is a sin. As a Christian, he should hold himself to a higher standard.

    • kourt

      Jan 9, 2018 at 12:54 pm

      Haha come on dont bring the dudes religion into a freaking game of golf. If it was truly cheating then it wouldnt be allowed, and the people interpreting the rules say its not. If people think its such an advantage why dont they start putting the same way?

  6. Chip Royce

    Jan 8, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    I’ve had the opportunity to speak with a few notable champions tour players and they have echoed Pernice’s comments, but won’t discuss on the record due to possible negative publicity.

  7. Kevin

    Jan 8, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    I think Chamblee and Pernice are being very generous. McCarron and Langer are doing more than “rubbing their shirt” at some point in the stroke. They are anchoring the club to their chest and controlling the fulcrum point in a way that is contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the rule. The rule needs to be re-written to remove this ambiguity!

    Given the open defiance of the intent of the rule by prominent players like Langer and McCarron I would rewrite it to require the putter to the be shortest club in a player’s bag and to ban any anchoring to the player’s body (including the forearm).

    • steve

      Jan 8, 2018 at 6:11 pm

      Do you agree with the “simple solution” offered below?

  8. allan

    Jan 8, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Simple solution: — Ban the split hand and handle grip. Keep both hands together when putting and that would eliminate the problem…. unless somebody wants to keep their 48″ putter and hold both hands together at their chest level to prop up the stroke!

    • mlecuni

      Jan 9, 2018 at 5:56 am

      Simple solution #2:
      Limit the length of the putter.

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19th Hole

Junior golfer penalized for using rangefinder in tournament…from 40 yards

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Unlike most junior competitions, rangefinder use is not permitted at this week’s Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. Akshay Bhatia forgot this and paid the price.

Facing a pitch shot from short of the green at Sage Valley’s par-5 fourth hole, Bhatia busted out his rangefinder and shot the pin, determining that he was 40 yards away. His next determination: He just made a big mistake, forgetting that the devices were not permitted at the Invitational.

Kids these days! Too reliant on technology and all that. 40 yards away, come on! But really, it’s an unfortunate error. The pro move, obviously, is not to even have the rangefinder in the bag. Bhatia, just 16, received this wisdom the hard way.

“I knew I couldn’t use a rangefinder, but I decided to take it out for some reason and use it… It’s my fault. I should’ve taken it out of the golf bag (before the round). It sucks, but I’m grateful I’m still in this position and not disqualified.” said Bhatia, per Golfweek.

Bhatia was hit with a two-shot penalty for the violation, carding a double-bogey seven on the hole accordingly. However, he still managed to tally a four-under 68 for his opening round and was tied for the lead after the first day of competition.

Coaches would be better equipped to dive deep into this one, but there are a couple of angles to approach range finder use from 40 yards out in general. However, I’ll say this. While it’s easy to say, “What the hell do you need a rangefinder from 40 yards for?” Here are a few more thoughts.

  1. Bhatia may stick to a fixed pre-shot routine on drives and approaches. The rangefinder use may be part of that. Thus, he erroneously pressed play on his usual routine before realizing his error.
  2. If Bhatia only uses a rangefinder situationally, it’s worth saying that an awkward third-shot yardage at a par-5 is a situation where you may want to get an exact yardage…it’s not like he was 11 yards out or something.
  3. Maybe he’s of the Dave Pelz-ian school and “timed wedges,” in which case he’d want the exact number, rather than merely feeling the distance for a 60-degree wedge shot, etc.

I don’t know, GolfWRXers, what do you think?

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19th Hole

GolfWRX members weigh in on the best swings on the PGA Tour

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Who has the best swing on the PGA Tour? On the one hand, the answer is Dustin Johnson, as he’s the No. 1 player in the world, right? Of course, golf fans banter about the “best” swing on the PGA Tour over beers in the grill room, they’re usually talking about technical soundness and aesthetics more than results.

It’s in this vein that GolfWRX members schley started a thread asking the forum faithful for their picks for the three best swings on Tour. For his part, shcley says Ernie Els, Adam Scott, and Louis Oosthuizen.

GatorMD says: Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen

SASSpeeder says: Louis Oosthuizen, Luke List, Ernie Els

Bladehunter says: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson

Oz dee cee says: Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen

Bye says: Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Justin Thomas

What do you think of these responses, GolfWRX members? Just a sample from the first 20 or so, obviously, and there are plenty more perspectives in the thread.

Who are your top three, GolfWRXers?

 

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19th Hole

Study: Amateur golfers are actually hitting it shorter than they were 3 years ago

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While the USGA’s distance report found a “concerning” increase in driving distances at the professional level, a new report from Arccos Golf — Mike Stachura of Golf Digest got the exclusive on its study —  identifies a very different trend at the amateur level. The golf GPS and statistics-tracking app found that the average golfer’s average drive decreased from 220.6 yards in 2015 to 217.1 yards in 2018.

Before we go crazy, however, it’s worth pointing out that we’re only four months into 2018 and the golf season hasn’t even started in much of the country. Thus, it probably makes more sense to look at the average golfers’ average drives from 2017, which measured 220.0 yards — a difference of a little more than half of a yard since 2015, rather than more than three yards, as the 2018 number suggests.

Again, maybe the trend for 2018 will continue, but it seems inappropriate to draw far reaching conclusions based on the “220.6” number.

Nevertheless, if we assume Arccos’ data is representative and statistically significant, then it would be, at the very least, a bold check in the “yes” column for bifurcation/not limiting the golf ball at the amateur level.

However (again, assuming data derived from Arccos users is representative of all golfers), the findings beget another question: Why are amateurs, equipped with the latest and greatest technologies that Iron Byron and his robotic colleagues are crushing past previous years’ models, stagnant in the distance department?

Stachura points to a Club Champion study showing that an average increase of 11 yards after fitting, that the drivers of 2018 go an average of six yards farther than the drivers of 2012.

Nick Clearwater, Director of Instruction for Golftec, strikes a similar tone

“It’s likely that many golfers used in the data are still using five-plus-year-old drivers as well and most don’t get fit for their equipment to benefit from the advancements. The average golfer uses too much spin loft with all of their clubs, so increases in tech still show minimal improvement in the quality of the shot. The shots still start to the right, spin too much and are mishit.”

This may be true, but for distances to decrease, golfers would have to be hitting new equipment that’s ill-suited for them, not merely sticking with the same drivers they were hitting in 2015.

Those with skeptical inclinations toward the benefits of new equipment, particularly $400 drivers, will assuredly have a field day with this data, and OEMs will be keen to emphasize the importance of fitting. They’ll also be quick to point out we have no idea what drivers the Arccos sample set is/was playing.

If, again, we assume the data to be accurate and representative, the USGA would look foolish if they advise a rollback of the golf ball for amateurs.

The amateur golfers in question will want to visit a qualified fitter or take part in a demo day with a buffet of options before shelling out for a new big stick, which is the advice we give in conjunction with Gear Trials (and the same reccomendation we’ve offered for years).

What do you think about this data, GolfWRX members?

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