Adam’s Anchoring

Frank, thanks for your weekly e-mails.

Your last blog about Tiger’s Drop stirred up some serious discussion. Do you have any more to say about it, having read the responses?

Also, do you think now that Adam Scott won The Masters with a long putter the USGA is going to finalize it’s plan to ban anchoring, in spite of the PGA Tour’s comment that they don’t like the proposal?

Columbia, South Carolina

Thank you for your e-mail and the double-barreled and loaded questions.

First about the Tiger Drop, I conclude that the rule 33-7 – giving the committee discretion to change the penalty — has complicated matters and not helped in this instance.

My opinion is unchanged, in that, if Tiger had disqualified himself for signing the wrong score card, because he – unknowingly — didn’t apply the rule correctly and admitted to such in the press room, it would have done him more good in the long run than winning The Masters this year.

With regard to anchoring; the proposed rule-change is cumbersome and ruling on how a golfer is allowed to hold and/or swing a club is unprecedented. This ambiguous rule change is going to be difficult to enforce and monitor for the administrators, and to interpret for those who need to have clarity in the rules, if they are to call infractions upon themselves.

The two alternatives are:
1. Make the putter the shortest club in the bag. This would, in my opinion get rid of the problem – if it really is a problem — which is really the “unsightly” long and belly putters, and more specifically the non-traditional use thereof. With a conventional length putter – the shortest club in the bag –it would be very awkward to use it in the offending manner which is causing the angst.
2. Don’t do anything, as it is not a performance issue – as stated by the USGA and R&A – but rather an unacceptable way to swing a club. Evidence indicates that the long putter has helped make some golfers putt better but has not made great putters out of good putters. The belly putter is not a long lasting band-aid for elite golfers as it adds sources of error.

I contend that Adam Scott won The Masters in spite of the long putter not because of it. He is one of the greatest golfers and ball strikers we have seen for a long time.

Please share your comments below on this issue which will hopefully help the guardians and other golfers view this from a different and broader perspective.

Thank you


21 thoughts on “Adam’s Anchoring

  1. If the golfing authorities have so much time on their hands to debate the long putter, I think they should use that time instead to reconsider the specifications which they have approved for golf balls. That will at least help in two key areas: less land needed for courses with the added benefits of less chemicals needed to maintain them; faster play as people can “play from the front tees, effectively, all the time. They could also look at adjustable drivers and fairway woods (irons to follow??) – how can the rules guys effectively police the “no change during competition” rule among club golfers (not so much a problem at pro level, I hope)?

    David Davies, Sydney, Australia

  2. I don’t agree with you on rule 33. what it does is take the arm-chair experts out of the picture and in this instance it worked to a tee.
    Making the putter the shortest club is the answer. However the way the new rule would be written is quite clear to my mind. I have always believed the long putter to be illegal and a definite aid to combating the nerves. Why did players like Couples, Els etc., say, when they started using the long putter, it was like cheating but they would use it until the rule was changed?

  3. you said it better than I have heard-not disqualifying himself when he took advantqage of the other players ended his book for me- discracsful

  4. Dear USGA

    I have a number of questions worth addressing from a pure “health of the game” perspective

    1. The number of people who will take up golf because of the anchoring ban is _____
    2. The number of people who will give up golf because of the anchoring ban is _____
    3. The anchoring ban will make the following number of people enjoy golf more _____
    4. The anchoring ban will make the following number of people enjoy golf less _____
    5. Golf is in trouble in todays time-challenged world … True/False
    6. Golf is stagnant or worse in the USA … True/False

    Just thinking here!

  5. Frank

    You are right on with both issues!

    The one who “dropped the ball” on Tiger was the Rules Committee. They gave him a pass on what was clearly an illegal drop on the video. You are the only one in the golf industry who was man enough to call it like it is.

    Coincidentally–I believe the “shortest club in the bag” is also recommended by Tiger.


    • Rules Committees make mistakes, but from the video it was not obvious that Tiger took an illegal drop. And they corrected their mistake, applied the rule to Tiger exactly as they would have any other competitor…….if they would have had a walking official with every group, the problem would NEVER have occurred.

  6. Agree with you Kit Lefroy.
    The “unfair advantage” of using an anchored putter doesn’t exist for golfers with handicaps, because a player’s handicap is determined without any reference to the putting style of the golfer. If you have a 10 handicap and are competing against a player who has a 10 handicap, neither of you has any advantage in your match – it does not matter what putting style either of you uses, because your golfing skills overall are statistically equal.
    And if anchored putting were of any advantage at the professional level, then every single professional golfer would be using a long putter or belly putter. Otherwise they would be giving money away.
    I think that main source of objection to the use of long putters is the human tendency to fear the unknown or the different. I don’t think it can really be aesthetic objections because we know that golfers have very little aesthetic sense – just look at how they dress.

  7. I agree with Frank about trying enforce an ambigious rule creates more confusion and possibly more rules officials walking the course. The USGA has not done anything about the long putter for over 20 years. It is part of the game for so many people who improved their putting to enjoy the game. Now is not the time to send negative vibrations throught the golf world. The Masters, “Putt, Chip, and Drive is the kind of activity to encourage the junior golfers who will be the future of the game.
    Lastly, the USAGE has to address slow play with 1 month for comments the PGA, R&A and all the other world golf organizations for feedback. Then set the down the best elements to speed play like, course set, green speeds, a method for handicaps to determine what tee to play the course ( Probably the most important).

  8. I prefer Alternative 2, then encourage (demand?) the USGA and R&A to put real energy into rolling back the golf ball instead of doing silly things like the groove change, which was nothing but a windfall for the manufacturers. Slow and expensive play is another big problem with no easy solution. Tee It Forward is helping. I like Kit Lefroy’s post a lot.

  9. Why, in golf, a person looking at the game on TV as more power on a player’s game(application of the rules) than the refereee present on site.
    What i mean,why a referee present beside Tiger didn’t tell him than he was doing something wrong before he hits his shot.

    • To Daniel: Because the Masters is the ONLY major that doesn’t have a walking rules official in every group. My guess is that next year, they will…….

  10. The long putter should be banned as, in my opinion, the game of golf is to swing a club without any type of aid. Anchoring the long putter to a part of your body is an aid. It should be a “free” swing of the club.

    DZ Liz
    Calgary, Alberta (Canada)

    • You obviously never saw Jack Nicklaus putt. Nothing free about his putting stroke. I will wager he never hit another shot in his life with his putting stroke.

  11. Kits opinon is erroneous and poorly thougt out.Severals golfers carriers ,Langer’s for instance, would have been over, because of putting woes,like the yips, which can be eliminated by anchoring, resulting in a huge advantage.

  12. I don’t have an issue with the long broomstick putter but I do with the belly putter. As frank you have stated before an anchored putter eliminates a degree of error in the stroke. With the fixed fulcrum of the belly putter it reduces the effects of “bad” hands in the stroke. As long as the hands are the only part of the body the golf club is connected to, it doesn’t matter how you swing it!
    Dr. Jim Muirhead psychologist 66 with a 12 index

    • The “fat” putter grips are promoted as helping take “bad” hands out of the stroke. So does the left hand low method. So do the various “claw” grips. 60+ degree wedges eliminate a degree of error on shots. A 406 cc driver head eliminates several degrees of error, so do hybrids and the perimeter weighted irons do the same. Under the USGA proposed rule, Matt Kucher can put his long shaft against his forearm, I see that as eliminating a degree of error. The USGA and R&A have done a disservice to golfers everywhere with this proposed rule change.

      • alas you miss the point, If you want to hit your driver with a cross handed grip you can may not be effective but you can grip any club anyway you want. It is using the end of the club as a fulcrum that eliminates a degree of error. If you anchor the but of youir driver the plane would be more consistent thus creating greater consistency in the contact. Probably would not help distance though.

  13. Recently my wife and I played golf with a rather short and rotund golfer. He used a regular length putter, but he anchored it into his rather large middle section. What would the rule do with is putting style?

  14. How about John Daly’s pant’s? Now THOSE should be banned if USGA/RandA are thinking of banning things that ‘look bad’ on the golf course, like the long putters…..

  15. My take on the issue is this. The long putter is a legitimate club that has been used for many years. It does not please the eye so to speak, but then, neither does Jim
    Furyk’s swing. Should we outlaw his quirky, but effective, swing just because it looks funny?

    As to giving an unfair advantage, that is so much bull scat. For a long time, anyone was at liberty to use a long putter if he/she chose to do so. Most players chose not to do so, possibly because it looks funny and would lead the user to become a target for verbal shots from one’s playing partners. That is a comment on the sheep mentality of the majority of golfers.

    I use a belly putter (slightly shortened) but use a conventional setup, something like Matt Kuchar. It does not improve my putting stats significantly, but it does take some strain off my lower back.

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