The bottom line is, this is an example of modern media at its weakest: Jumping to conclusions based on skimpy evidence. Repeating accusations from unconfirmed sources. Calling a man's reputation into question with one of the worst words that can be applied to a golfer -- even if a question mark is used after it. What Golf Digest stands for is credibility, and in this case we did not live up to that standard. We apologize to Sergio Garcia and to our readers.
Almost six months after golf's ruling bodies announced their proposed rule change, it's official: Anchored strokes are now prohibited by the Rules of Golf, per Rule 14-1b, announced by the USGA and R&A on Tuesday morning.
It's a polarizing issue, so reaction from golfers around the world is accordingly strong and varied. As the decision became official, we asked our Golf Digest Facebook fans, Twitter followers and our Instagram followers, whether they were for or against it.
The majority of our readers are against the move, but others feel strongly that anchoring is in fact cheating. In a GolfDigest.com poll, 54 percent of voters said they'd still anchor their putter after the rule is in effect.
Adam Scott made it four out of six for the long putter in majors after winning this year's Masters.
Here's some more response from our social-media channels:
Mark H. Friedman in Birmingham, Ala. on Golf Digest's Facebook page: "Rather than ending the controversy, I predict this rule will foster more disregard for the rules."
Bill James in Minneapolis on Golf Digest's Facebook page: "So tell me this: In a sport that is declining in new golfers coming into the sport, how does this help to grow the game of golf? People who want to play and have fun and nothing more will still play with anchored putters. This really only affects a small percentage of players in the world."
From @dallas_wade81 on Golf Digest's Instagram page: "Players have grown up their entire careers using these putters. Now the [ruling bodies] are taking them away. Not cool."
From @chefboyerb in response to a tweet from @GolfDigestMag: "Rule 14-1b ruined golf for the guy who wants to play for $5 on sat who battles the yips, good work pushing people out of golf."
David John Tease, Shellharbour, New South Wales: "Against, we can have aerodynamically designed clubs, balls that have multiple covers, multiple polymer shafts that can get enough kick into the point of impact that can launch a ball over 300 yards, but we can't have an ungainly action that does not do much more than just give some the confidence to go hole a few putts."
From @emeeker in response to a tweet from @GolfDigestMag: "I think it’s great. It’s a golf swing. I hate seeing young kids using belly putters."
Geoff Lee, Carlsbad, Calif. on Golf Digest's Facebook page: "I'm against it. Like others have said, if its such an advantage, then why isn't everyone on tour doing it? If anything, its taking a lot of people away from the game. As a PGA member, our overall goal is to promote and grow the game as a business/industry, not deter people away from it because of frustration."
Jay Houk in Rogers, Ark. on Golf Digest's Facebook page: "I think it's ridiculous. Go after the technology in clubs and balls and scale those back. But they won't, because that would affect the people who give them money. These have been on tour for over 20 years. And now they are gunna be illegal??? This is just a rules committee besting their chest and saying we can do what we want."
John Martin on Golf Digest's Facebook page: "This is a ridiculous rule that hinders the growth of the game. Typical USGA and R&A ruling that shows that they don't really care about growing the game. They only care about the power they can exert."
From @patricklaw9 on Golf Digest's Instagram page: "If it's such an advantage, why doesn't everyone do it? Why now? Why not 30 years ago? #joke"
Ken Carter in Traverse City, Mich. on Golf Digest's Facebook page: "I think there are going to be a LOT of problems enforcing the ban, and it will create nightmares for rules officials and the players. This is because it is possible for a player to hold a long putter 1/1000 of an inch away from his chest, which is technically legal -- but NO ONE will be able to discern whether he is actually anchoring or not. Of course, if you hold a long putter that close, you will be touching your shirt....and players will be accused of breaching the rule and cheating -- but they aren't. So it will be essentially unenforceable."
Andy Hartle on Golf Digest's Facebook page: "For all of you who say it's cheating, you really do need to do more research. If you had any clue what you are talking about you would know that there is no evidence that shows using a long putter gives you an advantage."
From @choff77 on Golf Digest's Instagram page: "So they don't players to use something that gives them an "advantage" over other players. So does that mean hybrids and adjustable drivers are next to be banned? Last time I checked not every player uses one of them."
Dennis J McDonald, Seabrook Island, S.C., on Golf Digest's Facebook page: "It is a game. It is supposed to be fun. Shouldn't the R & A and USGA be more involved in growing the game instead of exiling some of us? Fortunately for me there is a disk golf course nearby. It looks like a fun game. Quicker, still social and FUN."
Robert Baggett on Golf Digest's Facebook page: "Waiting til 2016 just creates opportunity for controversy and bad PR for the game. Should've been 2014."
Eric Figueroa on Golf Digest's Facebook page: A golf pro shouldn't have to rely on a crutch to stay competitive. Amateur golfers need all of the help they can get. There should be 2 sets of rules & that would solve the problem.
From those FOR the decision:
From @TitoHungry in response to a tweet from @GolfDigestMag: "If you're a rec player complaining then you're idiot. You probably don't follow 99% of the rules now & the putter is just an excuse."
Randell Hiltbrunner of Aledo, Texas on Golf Digest's Facebook page: "If the argument is that the long putter is no advantage, then changing back to a real putter should be no big deal, right?"
From @TomasGreyhound in response to a tweet from @GolfDigestMag: "Most golfers take mulligans, take 5 foot gimmes anyway - in short, they are already cheaters."
From @MattGibb in response to a tweet from @GolfDigestMag: "Golf absolutely won today. Club companies are just annoyed they have one less club to sell!!"Follow @s_hennesseyGD
Early this week, the World Golf Hall of Fame inducted its 2013 class, highlighted by Fred Couples and Ken Venturi.
Who will be in next year's class? Editor-in-Chief and Chairman Jerry Tarde has already done the work for voters. In his May Editor's Letter, Jerry says the 2014 ballot should include A.W. Tillinghast, Butch Harmon and Vinny Giles.
Tarde makes the point that three categories are underrepresented in the hallowed halls of St. Augustine -- course architects, instructors and career amateurs.
Tillinghast, who designed gems such as Winged Foot and San Francisco Golf Club isn't yet in, and "it's an embarrassment to the Hall" that he isn't in there, Tarde writes.
Back in May 1974, former USGA Executive Editor and Golf Digest contributor Frank Hannigan wrote in a feature in the Golf Journal: "A.W. Tillinghast is the forgotten genius of American golf."
Almost 40 years later, evidenced by Tillinghast's absence in the Hall, it seems the Hall has still forgotten Tillinghast's genius.
Tarde's column has elicited a strong response from our readership.
Here's one from reader and competitive amateur James J. Dunne III of New York:
"The beauty of golf is its nuanced complexity, and we should pay homage to the full range of extraordinary people who have contributed in their own, equally important ways to the richness, evolution and history of the game."
Well said, Mr. Dunne.
Another response from a @GolfDigestMag Twitter follower, Joe Dante:
Dunne also felt strongly about Giles, remarkably the low amateur at the 1968 Masters and the champion of the 2009 USGA Senior Amateur, 41 years apart.
Dunne writes: "Giles also guided the careers of Tom Kite, Davis Love III and Lanny Wadkins, among others. Giles represents the very best of amateur golf and including him in the Hall of Fame would be a nod to the importance of amateur competitors throughout the game's history."
Tom Place, of Ponte Vedra Beach, used to run PGA Tour media centers for many years.
Place wrote to Tarde with another good suggestion to add to the "builders' wing" of the World Golf Hall of Fame.
"You stated that the 'odd U.S. President' already is in the hall, but I'd like you to know about President Gerald R. Ford," wrote Place. "I'm leading an effort to have him receive the lifetime achievement honor for induction .in the class of 2014. A number of players are helping the cause."
It's great to hear prominent voices in golf are passionate about making the Hall of Fame a more complete rendering of the game's history.
In baseball circles, celebrating a dramatic win by "pie-ing" a teammate for his heroics has become a common occurrence.
We haven't seen it become as popular in golf, but it was funny to see Brad Faxon serve Jeff Sluman with a cream pie to his partner's face (below) after they won the Legends of Golf last weekend.
For our Golf World Front 9 Punchline-Writing Contest this week, we asked our readers to dish out a punchline about the pie celebration.
The winning entry came via Andy Peterson of Omaha:
"There's tasting victory, then there's tasting victory."
We'd also like to recognize our winner from our Masters Report issue (April 22).
Here's the setup line we posted on Facebook on Masters Sunday:
"Augusta National announces "Drive, Chip & Putt" competition for junior golfers."
The winning punchline, from Trey Michelle Lineberger of Ponte Vedra Beach:
"They also announce "Hazards, Drops & DQs" competition for the rules committee."
Check back on our Golf World Facebook wall this Sunday for YOUR chance to see your name appear in our next issue.
Photograph: Courtesy of Getty Images.
Slow play is agreed to be one of golf's biggest issues, on both
professional and amateur golf. But when 14-year-old Tianlang Guan, was assessed a one-shot,
slow-play penalty on the 17th hole, a large portion of the Twittersphere reacted strongly against the decision.
In an interview with ESPN, Guan said he respected the decision: "I know the rules pretty good. I think my routine is pretty good, too. But just the wind [was strong], so we had to change [clubs]. So the weather wasn't good today so it was tough to make a decision [on which club to use]."
Our Dave Shedloski reported that Guan was given three warnings after his group played the 12th hole. After the group did not pick up the pace by the 17th hole, Guan's par on the 17th was changed to a bogey.
It drew immediate reaction on social media.
Golf World Executive Editor Ron Sirak (@RonSirak) polled his Twitter followers, and got instant feedback. Results: 94 voted AGAINST the penalty, 21 were OK with it.
GolfDigest.com Editor Sam Weinman (@samweinman): The Guan penalty would be a lot easier to stomach if this sort of penalty was a regular occurrence. Last slow penalty in a major was 2004.
Golf World contributing writer Dave Shedloski (@DaveShedloski): Slow play has been a bane on tour for decades. Maybe a few penalties are way overdue. Irony is problem predates 14 yr. old kid. #masters
Golf Digest Global Golf Director Stina Sternberg (@StinaSternberg): This may be the most moronic move Augusta has made. If Guan misses cut b/c of his penalty, golf will never live it down.
Former PGA Tour pro and Champions Tour player John Cook (@johncookgolf): ·I feel so bad for Guan, inside cut line tho. Good news. Unfortunately the sign of times. Jr,college,am golf watch pros creep along. #speedup
GolfChannel.com's Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC): ·More Just received this text from PGA Tour pro: "I don't think I've ever seen a more ridiculous time to start enforcing a rule." Amen, brother.
Yahoo! Sports golf blogger (@shanebacon): Augusta officials also announced they plan to tell all kids at the tournament Santa is not real.
Former PGA Tour pro and Golf Channel's Steve Flesch (@Steve_Flesch): ·More : I am sick to my stomach... REALLY! They pick this kid to make an example out of? Worst decision ever in golf!”// ruining a great story.
PGA Tour pro Jamie Lovemark (@jamielovemark): "More What a terrible decision to penalize Guan. Yeah, maybe he was playing slowly but the kids trying to make history, just look the other way."
European Tour pro (@shanelowrygolf): Can't believe that they gave out a penalty to Guan at the masters. The fact that he is looking at tour players playing every week like snails means that he plays the same way. This is a joke. Hope he makes the cut now. I just think if it was te bigger players such as tiger nothing would have been done.
PGA Tour pro Josh Teater (@JTeater12): Awesome performance by #Guan @the_masters still can't believe they penalized him. Go get it this weekend!
FOXSports.com Golf writer Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich): You have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME?? They penalize Guan one stroke for slow play on 17. Turtles everywhere in pro golf & they ping this kid?
ESPN.com senior writer Bob Harig (@BobHarig): As brutally slow as it is out here anyway, you going to make an example of a 14-year-old when professionals won't get moving? #Masters
Rapper 'Lil Wayne (@LilTunechi): Guan shouldn't have the penalty. Shame on the Masters
European soccer player Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker): Guan Tianlang given a one shot penalty. Very harsh on the 14 year old. Couldn't they have given him detention instead? #Masters
From our Facebook and Twitter pages:
Dan Chin on Golf Digest's Facebook page: Tiger has been out there for an hour and a half and hasn't finished the 4th hole. This kid is far from the only one playing slow out there.
@WittyGolfer to @GolfDigestMag's Twitter handle: No class giving him the penalty, Tiger can walk around putts for 12 mins, he & others will never be stroked.
Matthew Chlopek on Golf Digest's Facebook page: If he broke a rule, he should be penalized. Doesn't matter the age.
Michael Cook on Golf World's Facebook page: Making an example of a kid instead of someone that has done it countless times on the tour. Augusta National should be ashamed.....this is on them - not the PGA tour.
Brandon Urban on Golf World's Facebook page: Complete joke. If Ben Crane has never received a slow play penalty then no one deserves one. No reason to set the precedent now.
Winning can take care of many things, but some are questioning the wording of Nike's newest ad with Tiger Woods. The 14-time major champion returned to the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking with his win over the weekend, and Nike released this on Monday:
After Tiger's well-publicized affairs, the 14-time major champion lost major endorsements with companies such as Gatorade and AT&T. Golf Digest's relationship with Woods also ended, but Nike stuck with the embattled star, and has been using him in its commercials as frequently as ever in 2013.
Nike isn't afraid to push the limits to generate buzz and its latest ad has people talking. Does it send the wrong message or is it simply meant to inspire? Let us know what you think.
Image: Courtesy of Nike Golf
Becoming a published golf writer is a dream of many golf fans.
We give our readers the chance to get a taste of that dream in every issue.
It's our Front 9 Facebook Punchline Contest, inspired by the New Yorker's cartoon-caption writing contest. On Sundays, we post a set-up line to our Facebook wall. Submit a punchline, and you have a chance at being published.
We received 110 entrants last week to appear in our Equipment Issue, and our editors picked a winner.
Here's the set-up line we offered up to you all last week:
"A 2,000-year-old human skull found in a bunker at Musselburgh Links."
The eerie bunker in question (on Hole No. 4) at golf's oldest course, Musselburgh Golf Links. Courtesy of Geoff Shackelford.
The winning punchline, submitted by Bryan Smith of Deltona, Fla.:
"We've heard of golfers losing their heads in bunkers, but this is ridiculous."
The other finalists we considered:
Frank Imschweiler (Fairfield, Conn.): Giving new definition to the buried lie.
Mark Wehrman (Big Sky, Mont.) "Now that’s a deadly hazard.”
Thomas B. Allen: "It gives new meaning to the phrase "skulled it." (Middletown, Ohio)
Paul Bynane (Houston, Texas): Scottish bunkers, breaking hearts and taking skulls, since the iron age."
Check the Golf World Facebook wall tomorrow for your next chance to win! (You'll win a special Golf World hat, too.)
Our past winners from 2013:
February 25th issue: Our setup: "Snow halts first-round play at the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Arizona."
Winner: MT Diehl, Orange City, Iowa. Punchline: "Lift, clean, defrost."
February 18th issue: Our setup: "Bill Murray heads a starry gathering of pros, celebs and CEOs at Pebble Beach—and misses the Pro-Am cut."
Winner: Andy Peterson, Omaha. Punchline: "He remains the perennial fan favorite, so he's got that going for him, which is nice."
January 28th: Our setup: "Tiger Woods misses Abu Dhabi cut after taking illegal drop."
Winner: John Fox, Wyoming, Ohio. Punchline: "There's sand in Abu Dhabi? You're kidding me."
January 14th: Our setup: Wind, weather delays play havoc with Hyundai Tournament of Champions schedule.
Winner: Josh Krutchik, Encino, Calif. Punchline: "Apparently Mother Nature wasn't as excited about the start of the season as we were."
The golf motto "a game for a lifetime" doesn't need any clarification for those who have played the game for several decades, but reading about the living examples of that motto inspire and enthrall us.
Photo of Stewart Roche courtesy of WZZM-13.
A legendary lifetimer was British Columbia's Arthur Thompson, who shot his age in 1972 at age 103. Last summer we spotlighted Stewart Roche (above), of Hart, Mich., who had a hole-in-one at age 96, giving him three aces since turning 91, a trick that caused us to give him the awkward-but-deserving title "most prolific hole-in-one shooter of a golfer in their 90s."
We want to keep the great golf longevity stories coming, but we're going for the mother lode of lifetime records and want to discover who the oldest male and female golfers are who play rounds regularly, plus determine among this group of active golfers who has played golf for the most years. That means golfers who have hit triple digits -- in age -- and who likely have been playing for 9 to 10 decades.
If you fit that profile, or know someone who does, we want to hear from you. Please nominate yourself, or someone you know, sending us details about your age, where you play regularly, how long you have played golf (starting age to present age) and send it all to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also mail information to: Golf Digest, 20 Westport Road, Box 850, Wilton, CT 06897, attention: The Oldest Golfer.
We'll report back on what we've heard so we can all celebrate the oldest players among us.