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Tour’s anchored putter explanation doesn’t add up



This week, PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem threw a new ingredient into the potboiler that is the anchored putter debate. Just when it looked like the USGA and the R&A had a clear path to send the broomstick the way of the dinosaur, the PGA Tour stated its opposition to such a ban in its formal comments to golf’s governing bodies.

Finchem is saying the position is based on three things: statistical evidence that long putters don’t make a difference, the unfairness to players on Tour who have grown up using an anchored putter of some sort and the fact that the amateur player would be harmed by a long putter ban. Since Finchem is an attorney, I’m sure that he would appreciate a critical examination of his evidence. Let’s begin.

Click here to read the discussion in the forums

Finchem said in an interview there there was an “absence of data or any basis to conclude that there is a competitive advantage to be gained by using anchoring.” In one sense, he is correct. Of the top 20 percent of the Tour’s leading putters, none used an anchored putter. But the point is not if the long putter makes a given player statistically better than everyone else; the only meaningful statistic is if it makes the player better than he or she might have been using an unanchored putter with a conventional stroke. While the Tour has no way to compile such statistics, you can bet the players and their putting gurus do. If the putter works by the numbers on the practice green, then you can bet they are going to bring it to the course.

Then there’s the issue of players growing up using the longer putters. Finchem points to players like Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley, saying, “given the amount of time that anchoring has been in the game, that there is no overriding reason to go down that road.” It is true that the long putter has been around for a full generation, and until now there has not been a serious move to shut it down, partially because the broomstick was seen as the last resort for old men and basket cases to maintain a vestige of dignity on the greens. But in recent times, talented young players have begun to see obvious advantage of the method to make themselves competition-ready in a facet of the game that might have taken many more years for them to become proficient with the unanchored putter. Again, it doesn’t make them ready to compete for the title of best putter, but it does put them a position to challenge for best player. Also, if something is inherently wrong, is the “we’ve always done it this way” argument a valid one?

Lastly, Finchem noted the he and the 12-member Player Advisory Council (Jim Furyk, Ken Duke, Harrison Frazar, Carl Pettersson, Patrick Sheehan, Chris Stroud, Bo Van Pelt, Joe Ogilvie, Stewart Cink, Ben Crane, Jason Day, Charley Hoffman, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson, Scott Verplank and Mark Wilson) were concerned about the welfare of the amateur player. If the long putter is banned, they reason, then thousands of amateur players would be robbed of a tool that makes them more effective and the game is more fun. Here’s where it gets tricky for the Tour. On the one hand they say that we should keep the anchor because there is no evidence that it makes anybody any better, but on the other hand they assert that it definitely makes people better, so we should keep it. It can be one or the other, but it can’t be both.

Click here to read the discussion in the forums

On the Tour, there are no bigger prizes than the major championships. A single win at one of these exalted contests bring generational wealth and a lifetime of honor to the victor. Again, one of the reasons that a rule change was slow walked in the past was that no one had won a major using an anchored putter. All that changed with Keegan Bradley’s victory at the 2011 PGA Championship. And just in case anyone thought it was a fluke, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els used anchored putters to garner major wins in 2012. Bradley and Simpson are young bucks who broke through under the searing pressure of major championship competition. On the back nine on Sunday when you can’t feel your hands, isn’t it an advantage that when they are standing over a 6-footer for par, they don’t need to feel their hands? Isn’t it the same advantage for Els, a guy whose putter had recently stood between him and victory like a palace guard?

There are other rules that need to be addressed by the game’s guardians to ensure that the integrity of the game is maintained. I agree with Jack Nicklaus’ position that it is more important to address the physics of the golf ball than the anchored putter. I also have sympathy for Arnold Palmer’s view that there should be different equipment rules for amateurs playing in an unsanctioned environment purely for fun. But whether the anchored putter is kept or sent packing, golf must be honest and consistent about its reasons for doing so.

Click here to read the discussion in the forums

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.



  1. Rewp

    Mar 13, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Lol so many comments regarding the long putters. It makes me laugh when those pure golfers make comments we should play golf as it was meant to be. I suggest that we then get rid of those high tech clubs and balls, get rid of the carts both driven and push, carry our own clubs, wear ties and shirts like they use to do, bring back the stymie rule. I always thought golf was to be enjoyed, as it is impossible to become perfect at this sport. I play golf for the pure enjoyment and friendship I have. Do want u want to those that make a living at this sport but as for me let me enjoy the sport as I do. My next question is when are we going to have drug tests for all amateurs?

  2. Michael

    Mar 12, 2013 at 1:05 am

    I agree with Stephanie Wei. It’s BS to assert that too many amateurs would be affected as 20% use it. We would have two out of our 400 members that use it and I’ve never payed someone in pennants that uses one. Secondly that’s why we have handicaps in amateurs; just because you don ‘t don’t do a particular skill doesn’t make it unfair. I struggle driving, my mate would be off 6 if he could chip and some blokes don’t put real coast. It’s called GOLF !

  3. Tom Hertwig

    Mar 3, 2013 at 1:19 pm


    Here are some additional facts

    Ernie Els used a long putter to win the 2012 Open Championship
    Adam Scott used a long putter to choke away victory.

    I guess you can say what was written does not ad up.

    I can tell you from personal experence that using a long putter has helped me control my hands. I have a putting green in my back yard and spend hours practicing with a ball on a 4ft x 3/4 inch piece of steel. I have to keep that ball on the steel before it falls into the hole. When giving yourself goals ie like I have to make 8 in a row, something in my body changes as I get closer to the goal.(maybe presure) The same goes when I practice with a short putter. I also see a difference when using a super stroke type grip that helps with hand issues. The facts are the facts, the best putters in the world use standard lenght putters. If in fact, Brandt Snedeker uses a pop stroke and is considered a very good putter then why did he 4 putt from 12ft a year or two ago to get a invite to the Masters. Maybe presure. I believe long putters have been around since 1936 with only a handfull of victories so whats the problem? Whats nice is to see is a 14year old, Guan Tialang from China winning an invite to the Masters using a long putter. The only thing I would change is the rule that allows using your longest club to make a drop, it should be the club you will use to make the shot.

  4. So why care?

    Mar 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I still don´t get it why people get so bothered with the useage of long putters. Every player on tour have tried it and only 18% use it. That tells me that if even one of the 82% not using it would feel like it is an advantage, easier or “the easy way” that someone here called it they would instantly change to one. The tour players try everything just to improve their game 0,00001%.

    It doesn´t add upp to me, and dont´t come with “a golf stroke shouldnt be anchored because its not meant to be bla bla bla”

    I think this whole disscussion smells of bad publicity for the game of golf and just scares people away from the game. There is enough of rules as it is. ” This and that is banned, dont do that etc”….

  5. Colin

    Mar 1, 2013 at 11:26 am

    I don’t think this is about whether an anchored putter makes it easier or not (I certainly can’t work them out) – it’s more a question of whether the anchored stroke is really a golf shot or not. The argument is that the club should be held in the hands away from the body. For me, they do not represent the challenge of a golf stroke. This also has nothing to do with technology – 460cc drivers and SGI irons have brought more people into the game at the lower end, but they maintain the requirement for a semi-decent golf swing. They don’t turn people into great golfers because there is a trade off with what can be achieved with them.

    • So why care?

      Mar 2, 2013 at 3:44 am

      Why even bother? I dont get it? Why even care if its not easier or an advantage?

      The thing is that you get almost the same stroke not anchoring the broomstick i.e holding it 0,2 inches away from the body.

      Like Adam Scott said, this “rule” doesnt change anything!

      • Charles W. Wright

        Mar 2, 2013 at 11:22 am

        This so true! I just stood and held a long stick like a broom putter out in front of my chest and even without anchoring it at all the stroke would be the same. Thnx for sharing this. Although belly putters would be penalized by any new ruling, long broom style would not.

  6. TJ Cahill

    Mar 1, 2013 at 10:46 am

    In my estimate, this article is one of the most reasoned analyses on the PGA Tour decision. I want to play by the same rules as the professionals as a matter of personal integrity and challenge, but also as a matter of practicality where the USGA handicap is concerned. I think anchoring the putter is damn creative and works great for many, but inconsistent with the stroke rule. I will not do it, but I can understand why many do, especially if you have built great proficiency with such a stroke (or an anchored version of a stroke).

  7. David

    Feb 28, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Waiting 30 years and then banning it, I don’t really care one way or the other but how about showing some pro-activeness in your decisions. At this point I think you have let it alone and let the R&A and the rest of them figure it out, good job Finchman.

  8. The Hinge.....

    Feb 28, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Why do people continue to use other equipment as a comparison? Isn’t the article about anchoring the putter? Meaning using part of your body as assistance to stabilize your stroke. You can use a flag pole for all I care, but its not supposed to be attached to a third body part and used as a hinge. Why is that so hard to understand. Whether there has been a benefit or not, it’s the stroke that is the topic, not the tool used in a game that is challenging, and no matter what the outcome (“long putter hasn’t affected anything”, how do you or anyone else know until its gone?), having assistance as a hinge and not affecting outcome of gameplay just shows how much worse you would be without the stability of your chest or stomach.

  9. Paul

    Feb 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Im against long putters, thats where i sit.

    But what really annoys me is that you are allowed to use that club to get yourself out of trouble ie. with a drop.

    It’s a clear foot longer than a driver (the broom handle) and should not be allowed as the club you can use to get yourself a drop away from trouble.

    • Do your matchs!

      Feb 28, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      no its not! A standard length driver is 48″ including head and 50″ is the maximum these days. So 4″ at max!

  10. peter cybulski

    Feb 28, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I guess the pga tour , would vote for a bigger hole if given the chance.

    Ban em!

  11. m Bartolomeo

    Feb 28, 2013 at 8:09 am

    kind of hard to post an article against finchem’s 3 reasons when your opening statements agree with each point.

  12. Leftyken

    Feb 28, 2013 at 7:39 am

    If it was an advantage most pros and amateurs would be using it…pure and simple. In these days of mincing words and mis-speaks why is it so hard to comprehend. I putt cross-handed, is that fair? What about cavity backs over pure blades, they never outlawed cavity back irons despite them being an advantage over blades…pure and simple. I think the long putter especially looks ridiculous and I have tried it and see no advantage. I know many people who have tried it and gave up on it. Some golfers like cord grips, others like plain rubber or synthetics. Why outlaw it, it is nothing more than some powerful people in golf choosing who can own…guns. The USGA, PGA and R&A are the govt telling us what we can and cannot shoot…pure and simple.

    • Colin Gillbanks

      Feb 28, 2013 at 8:37 am

      There’s valid arguments to be made about the advantages given by modern equipment, but this is to do with a fundamental change in the way a ‘stroke’ is made. I think that’s why it’s being highlighted ahead of any other issue. Things like different grips – either the rubber ones on your clubs or the way in which your hands are placed on the club – are relatively minor details in the grand scheme of things.

      • Charles W. Wright

        Feb 28, 2013 at 9:16 am

        Colin, I respect your IMO purist arguments. But the game of golf is played with your whole body not just hands and arms. I see people who swing, although poorly, with there arms almost locked to their sides trying to hit a driver. It may be almost comical to witness but it is a golf stroke, ie an attempt to advance the ball to the hole. As an advanced player, yes this is not as we see it,PURE golf. There are thousands of players who will buy a purespin or whatever to advance their games. It has been this way since ancient times in Scotland.

        • Colin gillbanks

          Feb 28, 2013 at 3:52 pm

          Likewise, Charles. It’s good to have sensible debate on these things. You’re right about me being a bit of a purist, although I do use cavity back (albeit forged mizuno pure-looking ones) irons and I’m a sucker for an adjustable driver! I’m not sure where that leaves me in a debate about whats traditional in the game of golf!!

    • Really? 3 posts

      Feb 28, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      You are missing the point….every novel you right you speak of equipment. It’s the swing that’s the issue. So stop reiterating equipment references. I nor anyone cares how you hold your hands…so long as nothing is attached to any part of ur body other then ur hands. Did you read the title? Carry whatever you want, harnessing for extra stability is an advantage, and why doesn’t everyone do it? Same reason people play from tips. Playing at maximum difficulty is the game for some, not taking shortcuts to make easier

      • Long putter

        Feb 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm

        The point is that it there is an advantage or not! Who the fudge cares if someone anchors his putter or not!!??

        Go out and practice or do something useful instead of complaining and whining!

        I.e Mind your own bussines!

  13. John Waring

    Feb 27, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    My issue is with being able to use the long putter to gain an advantage when dropping 2 club lengths, surely you must use the club you intend to use for the shot after the drop. As far as putting goes, so what, we are In aperpetual state of
    Change in all areas of life, things change and develop, bottom line is you still need the talent to swing the club.

    • Long putter

      Feb 28, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      My putter is 48 inches and my driver including the head is 48 inches long. The longest putter ive ever seen is a 50 inch putter and the guy using it is almost 6 feet 5 inches. If im not misstaken you are not allowed to have a longer club than 50 inches.

      So a normal driver including clubhead is 48 and the maximum is 50, that gives 4 inches of extra droping space.

      Do you still think its unfair if I have a 50 inch driver and use it to drop?

  14. Brad B

    Feb 27, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Calling anchoring “inherently wrong” begs the question.

    “Anchoring” has never been illegal – which is why we’re where we are. It’s hard to call something which has never been illegal “inherently wrong” …. that’s elevating your opinion to a status which isn’t justified. Your opinion is just that – “your opinion.”

    “Anchoring” wasn’t widely practiced until Orville Moody, et al. because, for anything other than putting, it’s impractical – it simply isn’t possible to generate the power required for the vast majority of golf shots if the butt of the club is anchored. And while someone could, perhaps, use anchoring to “solve” problems with chipping & pitching yips, a wedge of that length would be unusable for all the other shots for which we carry that club.

    You suggest that it provides players using the anchored stroke some sort of unfair advantage – “they’re better than they would be if they weren’t allowed to anchor.” With all due respect, we don’t know that. All we do know is that anchoring has allowed some players who were disasters via other methods to compete – Moody, Litzke, Langer being a few examples. We also know that a number of players have gone “long” and then, eventually, abandoned it and returned to more conventional methods – in other words, it doesn’t work for everyone.

    For players like Bradley, it’s all they know. And they’ve known it as “legal” for a long, long time.

    Absent demonstrable evidence that it is a superior way to putt – absent a stampede of golfers abandoning the conventional stroke for some sort of anchored stroke – all invoking Bradley & Webb Simpson & Adam Scott does is demonstrate that, for these guys, it works.

  15. reasonable human

    Feb 27, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I think a lot of people are getting a bit confused and angry. The R&A and USGA have nothing against the technology of the putters or the length, only the actual act of anchoring the putter to your body, which essentially adds an element of stability to the swing. Older players and others with bad backs will still have all the remedial effects of the longer putter, but will still be making a pure stroke at the ball with only their hands as points of contact with the club. I have nothing against people who use long putters, and don’t think it takes anything away from the amount of skill it takes players like Bradley, Simpson and Els to win majors with them, but I think the PGA Tour throwing all it’s toys out the pram over it is a little ridiculous. They are not a ruling body, and should respect the ruling bodies decisions. Any comments they felt they needed to make to the R&A and USGA should have been made behind closed doors.

  16. Nicksmate

    Feb 27, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    At my club one person uses a belly putter, no-one uses a broom.

    I sometimes get the yips but hey, that’s golf it’s not supposed to be easy. They should have been banned years ago but better late than never.

  17. Charles W. Wright

    Feb 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    If anything new like long anchored putters are to be deemed to be evil and banned. Why not go back 40 more years and ban metal woods and cavity back irons as they are definitely easier for most people to hit. We can all be stuck in the past with our little wooden clubs and Gutta-percha balls.

    • Colin gillbanks

      Feb 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm


      The club isn’t the issue, it’s the anchoring. Large headed drivers and cavity back irons undoubtedly make the game easier because do their forgiving nature, but they still need the skill of swinging the club in the correct manner to work for player. Anchoring a long putter is deemed to be in contravention of the rules and/or spirit of the game because it alters the way a stroke is made. Technology and its advancements are one thing, but a change to the very essence of the skills required to play the game are quite another.

      • Charles W. Wright

        Feb 27, 2013 at 8:16 pm

        And it took these self professed “guardians of the game” 40 years to come to this conclusion? If their argument was of merit it should have been addressed a VERY long time ago. Do we now rescind all wins that have occurred at all levels because these “guards” don’t like that they were won against what they believe to be the only WAY it should be. I have tried the belly putter and quit it very soon because there is very little feel in lag puts. But, I just feel these putters have been a part of the game too long to arbitrarily change now.

        • Colin Gillbanks

          Feb 28, 2013 at 6:30 am

          That’s a fair point. Why now? I don’t have an answer to that apart from it maybe having become more of an issue in that a lot more players are using it? I don’t think there’s an issue about rescinding wins as it was legal when players won using the anchored putter. To me, anchoring a stroke is not part of the game of golf and should never have been allowed in the first place.

          • Leftyken and Charles

            Feb 28, 2013 at 10:26 pm

            What will it take for you guys to understand its a hinged stroke situation and NOT equipment? Go ahead fire back with more useless political comparisons of guns, or crossing your legs….get it through ur head, not the gun, it’s how it’s being used.

      • Leftyken

        Feb 28, 2013 at 7:45 am

        What about all the different putting grips people use. The “claw” has won several times and people putt crosshanded. The equipment can be regulated but how someone uses it to get the job done is really irrelevant. What about the person who may be a baby now coming up with a swing that allows him to shoot 62 literally everytime he tees it up. The swing is as separate as fingerprints despite people saying the pros swing the same. It is a slippery slope and if the gray area is this large maybe it should not be messed with.

    • joemomma

      Feb 27, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      thank you you are the only one with any sense on this page. its just a bunch of salty people because they need something to complain about for tour players winning.

      • Colin Gillbanks

        Feb 28, 2013 at 6:33 am

        Steady on Joe! It’s all about opinions, dude. Most of the opinions I’ve read on here are well thought out and valid (for both sides of the argument).

  18. John B

    Feb 27, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Since the R&A and the USGA have decided to ban something that has been approved and used for over 40 years, I am wondering what they will ban 40 years from now that has just come along.

  19. Travis

    Feb 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Just my 2 cents i have no dog in this fight putt how you want
    I’m pretty sure Sam Snead probably has a comment or two about against allowing anchor putting to stand.
    The entire case brought against Snead and his method of putting to prevent his yips was that it went against the tradition of the game and the spirit in which it was founded…. With that said
    I am not making a case for or against
    But I know if a legal matter would come about from this subject
    Due to te reasons they gave for banning croquet style putting they would more than likely rule to ban anchoring

    • Jason

      Mar 24, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      Is the long wand really that different from the oversize mallet that reduces the impact of off center hits, oversize drivers and irons, or hybrids? All of these were designed to make the game easier and you all use them without an inkling of guilt. Purists…..i think not

  20. Chris

    Feb 27, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Instead of the long short putter issue, how about limiting the ball distance

  21. Charlie

    Feb 27, 2013 at 11:39 am

    I’ve never had the yips, but have and use a belly putter. After the proposed rule from USGA I switched to use that putter as it is used by Matt Kuchar. Now it works better for me than before. I agree with USGA.

  22. illegal

    Feb 27, 2013 at 5:23 am

    Question if its not a competitive advantage, do you know anybody with long putters, got the yips then switched back to a short putter?

  23. Dear John

    Feb 26, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    Would the 18% even be on tour if they had to put with a non-anchored putter?

    • Leftyken

      Feb 28, 2013 at 7:53 am

      How many would be on tour if they had to use the clubs from the 70’s. Does that make them a better more skilled golfer? Why don’t we let the men and women play together, the women play at 6000 yards the men at 7000 yards. Tiger is so good, he should only get 12 clubs. There is too much intrusion in people’s lives as it is. The long putter has been around too long to ban now.

  24. Stefan on tour if........

    Feb 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    Exactly, you can’t put with a short putter, so you are taking advantage of a long putter to better your game. Get it? And you said you even have trouble with that. How about practice with a short putter like the other 80%, and we will see you on tour or would that take too much effort? Or just continue to take the easy way out. What’s fun about taking the easy route? I prefer the challenge, but as a scratch golfer youre obviously spending time on other parts of the game while others are constantly pushing their skills on the green putting with there hands and dealing with yips. You’re dealing with lack of putting skill whatever the weapon of choice. I WOULD REALLY LOVE TO SEE THE RESULTS IF IT WERE BANNED AS IT HAS ” NO EFFECT ON THE GAME” that’s a joke.

  25. Winmac

    Feb 26, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Could be a good move as anchored putter could be the reason that hindered players like Keegan Bradley to putt better? Maybe after using normal lenght putters, he’d be as good as Snedeker?

  26. Dave

    Feb 26, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    You, like Finchem and the PGA, are using only the facts that serve your point.

    If you are going to say that Ernie Els’ anchored putter helped him win the British when the pressure was on, then you have to also discuss Adam Scott’s meltdown on the greens also using an anchored putter.

    Not saying I disagree with you – there are very strong arguments to be made on both sides – and honestly, I really don’t care which way they go. It’s tough however to say that the “integrity of the game” is threatened by anchored putters, but having no problem with 460cc drivers, cavity back iron, hybrids in general and shafts made out of space age material… you almost have to limit everything if you want to limit the anchored putter… and that isn’t going to happen.

  27. Stefan

    Feb 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    I have used a long putter for over 12 years now (I’m 23 now). The argument that a long putter eliminates your nerves just isn’t true. I have a serious case of the yips and still have it regardless of the situation I’m in. I switched from a belly putter because I got the yips with it and am now using a broomstick.

    What people don’t understand is that just because my broomstick helps me eliminate the yips it wont stop me from hitting a bad stroke.

    I get so angry with people using the argument that they should ban it because “its much easier”… well its not! I would really like to putt with a short putter but i just cant. I’m a scratch golfer and loose all my shots on the green. If a had all my friends putting i would be on the tour as we speak.

    I really think people should mind their own business instead of complaining on what others do! Play and have fun and try to be the best golfer you can be!

  28. Brian Utley

    Feb 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    On the back nine on Sunday when you can’t feel your hands, isn’t it an advantage that when they are standing over a 6-footer for par, they don’t need to feel their hands? Isn’t it the same advantage for Els, a guy whose putter had recently stood between him and victory like a palace guard?

    Well, it wasn’t the same advantage for Adam Scott on that same Sunday afternoon.

  29. M

    Feb 26, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Mike is asking the wrong question. It is the USGA’s explanation for the proposed ban that does not add up. The argument that a putt is supposed to be made with 2 hands swinging freely away from the body is not anywhere in the current rules (hence the need to make up a new rule) but also is not consistent with the long tradition of numerous styles of putting. Anchoring is only one style. Kuchar’s style (anchored to the forearm) although still legal is not swinging with 2 hands freely from the body. Langer’s old style (also anchored to forearm albeitly with different hand position is not either. Even under the proposed rule, a broom style stroke is still legal as long as the top hand is moved 1 inch away from the body–but even with that move it is still not 2 hands swinging freely. The fact is many styles of putting do not involve 2 hands swinging freely away from the body. In reality, the proposed rule is arbitrary and is a result of a change in leadership, and agenda, at the USGA. The day before Mike Davis arrived the anchored stroke was legal and essentially the day after it is proposed as illegal. The USGA as an entity hasn’t changed, only the agenda of a new leader has changed and that is completely arbitrary. I further think Michael Williams’ definition of competitive advantage (if something makes ME play better versus myself) is silly. It would makes literally any improvement by one player versus himself illegal whether a lesson, new equipment, etc. Competitive advantage is something one player would have over another, which anchored putting does not provide (there is no statistical evidence it does) and furthermore the fact that the vast majority of amatuer and pros do not use this style underscores this. I further take issue with the conclusory statement that anchoring is an advantage is majors or pressure situations. Putting for most players is about feel, and anchoring eliminates one major part of the feel. For most players, the loss of feel resulting from anchoring is a disadvantage. For those who anchor, the loss of feel is a major detriment and one that they endeavor to compensate for but can never really ever duplicate the feel of a so-called “traditional” stroke. It is a trade-off, and one that is frankly a net detriment to one who anchors. The loss of feel in my opinion makes anchoring a competitive disadvantage but, again, it is just one form of putting and players should be free to chose the style that they feel best allows them to play and enjoy the game. The USGA has it wrong on this issue and I trust that the agenda of the new leadership takes a back seat to common sense and empirical data (of which, again, there is none). We only have anecdotal, conclusory statements like those offered by Michael Williams which is not a basis to make, or support, a rule change.

    • Charles W. Wright

      Feb 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      Well said. It is an agenda issue.

  30. Dane

    Feb 26, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Long or belly putters are a style of putting, just as cross handed, the claw, split hand, ect. Makes sense to some but not others. If they are banned cavity backs should be banned as well.

  31. Tom Otto

    Feb 26, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I think that the anchored putter has really brought all the importance of practicing off of putting. Last year, all but one major winner used an anchored putter and all of them were long hitters. It gives children the idea if you can jut hit the ball a country mile and be an average putter, you can make it on the tour. I don’t think anybody really “grew up” with the anchored putter because every player had started with a regular putter when they were young. The anchored putter just makes the guys who couldn’t putt before have an advantage with being able to save strokes on the green without practicing like all the other guys.

    • Jay

      Feb 26, 2013 at 11:58 am

      Kind of like the 460cc driver gives an advantagfe to the guy who wasn’t a great ball striker and didn’t want to practice to become one. He needed the extra distance/forgiveness the new drives provide so he took the shortcut?

  32. B

    Feb 26, 2013 at 4:17 am

    Who cares there are that many other facets of golf that provide distinct advantages eg ball, new irons, new drivers, were do you start. If you want to use a long putter use it, if you don’t like them don’t use one. I’d rather see them stop caddies planting themselves behind the player and helping them line up.

  33. T

    Feb 26, 2013 at 2:27 am

    Curious if Tom Watson used an anchored putter on the 18th hole of 2009 British Open, would he be holding the claret jug?

  34. G

    Feb 26, 2013 at 1:31 am

    Anchor putter users VS Traditionals: FIGHT!


  35. Harold

    Feb 25, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    I would say that anchored putters allow you to practice putting for a longer period of time. I think that would be more performance enhancing than deer antler spray. I think the powers that be let it go too long now, (no pun intended) although I wish they would ban them. If they aren’t an advantage then people shouldn’t have a problem changing back to unanchored methods.
    I also don’t think using a line on the ball to line up a putt should be allowed either but all this is just my opinion.

  36. Andrew

    Feb 25, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    There is no reason to ban long putting. There is no evidence saying the game was intended to be played one way and not another. Had it been a problem it should have been said when it started. You can not say now that long putting is illegal because you have allowed to to happen. The best example is the prohibition of alcohol. They tried to stop it and the people didn’t care. Once you let in you can’t just take it out. Anyone who is golf a “purist” should understand the only thing that makes golf pure is the feeling of contact and getting the ball in the hole. I am sure you have all heard this a thousand times before “there are no pictures on the scorecard, only numbers.” “It doesn’t matter how but how many.” I personally could care less as long as the person enjoys the game pro or not but to take it out now is outrageous.

  37. Svensson

    Feb 25, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    What they are saying is pretty much this then;

    A. There is NO competitive advantage to be gained by using anchoring on the Tour.

    – but –

    B. There is SOME competitive advantage to be gained by using anchoring if you are an amateur.

    And of course you can feel your hands on Sunday. Don’t be ridiculous.

    • David Johns

      Feb 27, 2013 at 12:20 pm

      Actually, what they are saying is that Anchored Putting does not make putting significantly easier (if at all) than regular putting in general.

      It is easier for some player so they choose to use it. It is also easier to use a regular putting stroke for some players, so they choose to use that.

      If we suddenly forced all players to used an anchored putting stroke there would be a ton of very good putters that would suddenly be only average and may never get very good again.

      “Different strokes for different folks” has never been more appropriate.

      It is kind of akin to a fade being easier for some players and a draw being easier for others.

      Or some players prefer blades and some prefer cavity backs…

      Unless the anchored putter is giving players an unfair ADVANTAGE there is really no compelling reason to make them illegal to use.


  38. Kyle

    Feb 25, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Well reasoned. I disagree, but I understand your argument and think it’s a reasonable one.

    One thing I would say, however, is that the Tour’s stance that there is no statistical evidence of advantage on the one hand, and that the long putter should be preserved to keep amateurs in the game on the other hand, is not an inherently inconsistent position.

    The fact that, statistically, the anchored putter seems to make no difference as compared to the traditional putter, does not mean that amateurs don’t enjoy or prefer it, or even find it necessary. A thing can be statistically insignificant on the one hand, but still important or necessary to someone on the other.

    Thus, a close analysis of that part of the issue reveals it’s not really as tricky as it may seem.

    • CallawayLefty

      Feb 28, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      Yeah, said even stronger, statistics citing that long putters do nothing for PGA Tour Pros does not necessarily mean that the statistics would show they do nothing for amateurs. At least in this lawyer’s mind, it’s a pretty big logical gap in your argument. I think we can all agree that the Alien wedge did nothing for the pros, but…well…you get my point.

  39. HawaiiDawg

    Feb 25, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Great article…agree 100%. p.s. You spelled the Bear’s name wrong. Yikes!

  40. t

    Feb 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    I’ve been playing this game for 30 years and every year I lose more and more respect for the USGA and the PGA Tour. Golf was meant to be played with 2 hands holding the club, pure and simple. The anchor putter gives a clear advantage to players who could not putt otherwise, and its quickly now becoming the standard. If it wasn’t a clear advantage, the players wouldn’t be fighting it. I would never resort to such lengths to putt better. That’s just me; I like to consider myself a golf purist. If I have the yips, I have the yips. But that won’t stop me from playing. It is what it is.

    • John

      Feb 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      If the long putter is clearly an advantage, why when large sums of money are involved do only 15-18% of pros use currently use them?

      • Dear John

        Feb 26, 2013 at 11:56 pm

        Would the 18% even be there using a traditional stroke?

        • AndyE3

          Feb 27, 2013 at 3:25 pm

          Would 82% be there if they were forced to use and anchored putter?

    • Mike

      Feb 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      Well T if you have been playing 30 years then i guess your bag is made up of Persimmon woods and old blade irons.. i doubt that is the case as I’m sure your’re using 460 driver and the latest forgiving irons. Guess what the world has changed get use to it. Belly/Long putters are new world order like computers,twitter,face book and internet golf WEB forums…..

      • Per

        Feb 25, 2013 at 5:57 pm

        Tomorrows new world order might be short putters?

      • Joseph

        Feb 27, 2013 at 11:59 pm

        Excellent point Mike! as for the others: wasn’t golf truly meant to be played with Hickory shafts and featheries? I think the writer is wrong, I’ll bet there’s a few pro’s out there who putt better with the long putter but would never use it. I’m sure too that these protesters don’t ride carts on their home courses either.

    • Golfzalo

      Feb 25, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      Totally agree with you! I have yips, so I use pencil putting grip…yips gone, but anchoring the putter to my body is a shortcut for people who doesn’t want to work harder to put well under pressure.

    • bob

      Feb 27, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      So has the cross hand grip!!!

    • Reppoc

      Feb 27, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      There is no evidence or statistics that prove it is an advantage! How can that be more clear? And the dumbest arguement of all is the “game that is meant to be played with two hands… Blah blah blah!!! I’ve played with guys with one arm! One leg! It is a game to be “played” and enjoyed! If you feel anchoring a putter helps you putt.., ok! Enjoy! Get out and play! And what about seniors with bad back? The long putter allows them so much relief!!
      Ok.. Golf was a game to be played by walking… With wooden clubs… And feather balls! Get back to that and I will listen to a. silly anchored putter arguement!

    • dcjazzman

      Feb 27, 2013 at 3:13 pm

      Too bad some guys “grew up” with an ILLEGAL putter. I strongly disagree with allowing pros to use them in tournments. Personally, I don’t care what amateurs use, but the pros should tow the line. If they’re too shaky to use a regular puttet, then they don’t deserve to be on the PGA and senior tours in my view.

    • Jack Nash

      Feb 27, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Well said t. Couldn’t agree more.

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Opinion & Analysis

Have you got Golfzheimers?



While it has taken more than a quarter century of teaching golf to arrive at this point, I have come to the conclusion that there is an as-yet-unnamed epidemic condition afflicting a great majority of players. This condition is so prevalent that I think it is high time it was given a name. So let me be the first to navigate those uncharted waters and give it one in hopes that, once formally recognized, it will begin to be more seriously studied in search for a cure. I will call this condition “Golfzheimers,” as it is the complete inability most golfers have to remember the vast majority of good shots they have ever hit (even those hit only moments before), while having the uncanny ability to instantly recall every chunk, shank, skull, and chili-dip they’ve hit since sometime back around when balls were still covered with balata.

Now trust me, I’m not making light of a very troubling and serious disease. My grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s, and it is a heartbreaking condition.  n truth, I could have just as easily named this “A Golfer’s Senior Moment,” since the term is ubiquitous enough, if I really believed someone would actually take offense (and I am truly sorry if you do).  I didn’t, though, because it was after a conversation with my late grandmother one day that I was suddenly struck with how oddly similar her lack of short-term memory, combined with her ability to vividly remember things that happened 40 or 50 years ago, was in some ways to how most golfers tend to think.

As long as I have been playing and teaching, I’ve been searching for different ways to learn to accept bad shots, keep them in perspective, and move on without letting them affect the next shot, hole, or round. When it comes to swinging the golf club, I can generally teach someone how to hit pretty good shots in a fairly short period of time, but teaching them to remember them with the same level of clarity as those of the more wayward variety often seems like trying to teach a blind man to see. Despite a general awareness of this phenomenon by most players and its detrimental effect upon their golf game, little has been suggested until now as to why it exists and what if anything golfers can do about it. And while research in the field of neuroscience suggests that our brains are hard-wired from the caveman days to catalogue and assign more importance to events that are considered dangerous or threatening, what about the game can have become so dangerous (other than to our egos) that we all seem to be fighting such an uphill battle?

Numerous psychological studies have found that the majority of people can remember five bad experiences more readily than five good ones, and assuming this is true, it speaks a great deal about how we have been conditioned to think since an early age.  The concept of scarcity, a term popularized in the self-help world, essentially describes a lens through which many of us have been conditioned to look upon our world, our lives, and apparently our games, with far too much regularity. It is through the use of this concept that many of our parents kept us at the dinner table as children, far beyond our wishes and long after our dinners were cold. We were guilt-ridden, not because we might be unappreciative of the time and money that went into providing us with that dinner, but because there were millions of starving children in China or some other far-off country that would have been tripping over themselves for even the remnants of that liver and onions our mothers had beset upon us.

As a proud parent, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve used the scarcity tactic a time or two myself during moments of desperation. Being naturally an optimist, though, I try to avoid succumbing to its siren song because I prefer to teach my daughters a far better lesson. At the same time, my girls are proof positive of these same studies and our ability to recall, as evidenced by another thing we do at that very same dinner table — we play a game called high and low. I’m sure you’ve heard of it; it’s where you ask your kids what their high and low moments were during the day. With my kids, I ask them to tell me the low first, preferring to close their day’s reflection with something positive, but it’s uncanny how often recalling something positive makes them really pause and reflect, while if something negative occurred, their recall of it is nearly instant and typically very descriptive.

The good news for both my daughters and the general golfing public, however, is there is a very effective way to short-circuit this type of thinking, and it comes from the field of hypnosis. From this moment forward, make a point not only to remember every good thing that happens to you, but to stop and savor it. If you are paid a compliment, don’t just brush it off. Stop to relish it for a moment and recognize the responsible person with more than just the perfunctory, “Thanks.” If you accomplish a goal, regardless of how small, reward yourself in at least some small way, all the while reminding yourself how good it feels to follow through on your intentions. And if you actually hit a golf shot well, reflect a moment, make a point to enjoy it and remember the moment vividly, and actually thank your partners when they say, “Nice shot” rather than blowing it off with some sort of, “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while” type of comment.

Hitting the golf ball well is actually a near miraculous achievement when you consider the complexity of the swing and the incredible timing and hand-eye coordination it requires. Enjoy it (or anything else for that matter) when it actually comes off right. Do it several times a day for a month or more and there will be subtle changes in your brain chemistry, how you feel, and your outlook on life. You will notice, and so will those closest to you.  Make it a long-term habit and you might even be able to avoid ever having your playing partners ask this unfortunate question: “Have you got Golfzheimers?”

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Opinion & Analysis

The History of Course Design is Yours to Play at Oglebay



There is a much-talked about “New Golden Age” of golf course design underway that is driven by demand for ever-more spectacular courses at the top end of the resort golf market. Destinations such as Streamsong, Bandon Dunes, Cabot Links, Sand Valley and others provide the traveling golfer a spectacular golf experience; unfortunately, it comes at a price tag that is equally spectacular. When a week playing golf in Florida can cost as much as a week in Scotland, where do you go for a golf getaway that doesn’t require a second mortgage?

Oglebay Golf Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia, doesn’t just provide an affordable golf vacation option; with its three golf courses, it provides players the chance to experience a condensed history of American golf course design through its three courses. The resort sits on land that was once owned by a wealthy industrialist and is now a part of the city park system. Located about an hour from Pittsburgh, Oglebay draws the majority of its golfers from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. It’s kind of cool that when you drive to Oglebay from the Washington, D.C., you hit all of those states except Ohio, which is just a few minutes away from Wheeling. The area is especially picturesque in the autumn months when the changing colors of the leaves are at their peak.

The property has a rich history in the business and sporting history of West Virginia, but the three golf courses, Crispin, are a special prize that taken together form a primer on the history of golf design in the past 90 years. The 5,670-yard Crispin course is a one-off design by local golf enthusiast Robert Biery that was completed in 1930 and is a fascinating study of design techniques of that era. The slopes and elevation are severe and extreme by today’s standards. A clue was the raised eyebrow of the assistant pro when I said that I would walk the course. Uneven lies are the order of the day, the product of a time when there was neither the money nor equipment readily available to create gentle slopes and even surfaces; the course is true to the original contours of the West Virginia hillside.  There is little relief on the greens, which run a little slower than typical greens but make up for it in size and slope. It is by far the shortest of the three courses but the par-4 8th hole and par-5 9th holes are a thousand yards of joy and pain.

Hole No. 6 at the Klieves course

The Klieves Course is a 6,800-yard, par-71 Arnold Palmer design that was completed in 2000. The design features broad fairways, mildly undulating greens and opportunities for heroics on short par-4’s, all the prototypical characteristics of modern resort golf courses. While some architects choose to torture and torment, Palmer courses put a premium on fun and this one is no exception. The par-5, 515 yard 6th is a great example of the risk/reward available without that challenges the resort golfer without the need to humiliate. The course is very well maintained tee to green, and you’ll want to keep a fully charged battery to take photos of the vistas from the elevated tee boxes.

Hole No. 13 at the Jones course

In my humble opinion, the true gem is the Robert Trent Jones course. The 7,004-yard, par-72 Course carries a healthy 75.1 rating/141 slope from the back tees. It utilizes a gorgeous piece of land that meanders across the West Virginia hills to give a mesmerizing collection of holes that are equal parts scenery and challenge. Both nines start from elevated tee boxes hitting down into valleys that offer classic risk/reward propositions. Usually I have no problem identifying a favorite hole or two, but on this course it’s difficult. Having said that, the stretch of No. 4 (par 3, 193 yards), No. 5 (par-5, 511 yards) and No. 6 (par-4, 420 yards) are among the best I have played anywhere as a show of nature’s beauty and the at of laying out a golf hole. And the four par 3’s are not the place to pic up an easy birdie. The only one less that 190 yards from the tips is the 158-yard 15th, which is protected by a small, undulating green. All in all, it’s a perfect representation of the genius of Robert Trent Jones.

The golf is good at Oglebay and the prices are better. You can get in 18 at the Oglebay courses for as little as $32…on the weekend. And when you’re not playing golf, you can take advantage of the myriad of outdoor sports activities, tour the Oglebay mansion, hit the spa or visit the Glass Museum on the property (I promise it’s a lot more interesting than it sounds). There’s a lot of great new golf resorts out there and that’s a good thing for the golf industry, but destinations like Oglebay prove that there’s a lot of life left in the old classics as well.

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Two Guys Talkin’ Golf: “Are pro golfers actually underpaid?”



Equipment expert Brian Knudson and GolfWRX editor Andrew Tursky argue whether PGA Tour players are actually underpaid or not. They also discuss Blades vs. Cavity backs, Jordan Spieth vs. Justin Thomas and John Daly’s ridiculous 142 mph clubhead speed.

Click here to listen on iTunes.

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19th Hole