Grow the game but ban the long putter? You're kidding, right?
Two of three participants in Sunday's playoff, and the eventual winner, Bill Hass, used longer-than-standard putters. Word that the USGA may be re-thinking the rules regarding the anchoring of long putters, reported in Golf World's latest issue, has generated a lot of mail.
I find it ironic that in the same issue of Golf World, there is Ron Sirak's article "Long Gone" stating that the USGA is considering banning the "anchor" putter as well as Ryan's Herrington's article stating that the number of golfers in the US has dropped by 12.9% since 2003, and the need for the USGA to get more people playing the game. I can think of no action that the USGA could take that would drive more golfers from the game, particularly those senior golfers aged 50+, than to ban the anchor putter. As a 66-year-old golfer with a 7 handicap, there is nothing more frustrating than still playing a reasonable tee to green game, and then consistently 3 putting (or worse). I switched to the belly putter about 10 years ago, and the game remains enjoyable. Based on my experience at my club, my situation is not unique. If the PGA wants to ban it, that is their business, but there is no reason to force that decision down to the club level.
Dave Padley, Nashua, NH
To paraphrase Charlton Heston: The USGA can take away my long putter when
they pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.
Lew Wessel, Hilton Head Island, SC
The USGA, in looking to grow the game, won't do it by banning the
anchoring of long/belly putters. What will be next....banning extra
large grips on putters, the cross-handed grip, the claw grip,
adjustable drivers? The USGA should allow players, both pros and
amateurs, to continue to choose the equipment and techniques that suit
them best to improve their skills and enjoyment of the game. I've
used a belly putter for years. If I can't anchor it to my belly, what
is to keep me from anchoring it to my left forearm as I do when I chip
with a lofted iron.....or is that going to be considering anchoring it
Jane Hilgendorf, Corona del Mar, CA
Don't expect any change to the rules anytime soon. The governing bodies, the USGA and the R&A, generally issue changes to the rules every four years. The next change will be the year golf comes to the Olympics, 2016.