Ed Ibarguen, director of golf at Duke University Golf Club, is chairman of the PGA of America's Teaching and Coaching committee, which is developing teaching guidelines for the rule change banning anchored strokes. He answers five questions from Mike Stachura.
Q: Why don't people putt as well as they should?
When you're on the green before a round, you're probably taking three balls and hitting putts from 20 feet and missing them and starting again. It's like what Davis Love Jr. once said, "You're just practicing missing." What you've done in five minutes of warm-up is watch yourself miss putt after putt.
Q: Why is the rule change good for teachers?
This rule will open up an opportunity to talk about putting as the most important stroke. When people come in for a lesson, and you ask them about their putting, they often say, "Oh, my putting's fine."
Q: What's a successful alternative?
Johnny Miller once won a tournament by looking at the hole when he putted. If you're a little yippy, that's a great option. When I have beginners in clinics putt that way, their distance control gets better, their follow-through is better, and almost every time someone holes a putt from about 30 feet.
Q: The physical challenge is only part of it, right?
Any time golfers think it's the equipment that's making them better or worse, you have a hard time convincing them otherwise.
Q: Your colleagues are now at the front lines in this issue.
This is such an opportunity because we have 21⁄2 years to deal with it. PGA professionals can organize putting clinics specifically to help players who anchor. Maybe bring some wine and cheese, too, in case it gets a little rough.
[Photo: Brent Humphries]