From the moment golf's ruling bodies decided to propose a ban on anchored strokes, they knew the divisiveness of the issue would likely get worse, not better. After Keegan Bradley was heckled by a fan who reportedly called him a "cheater" during play yesterday at the World Challenge, the U.S. Golf Association stepped in today to clarify the rule and castigate those who are misinterpreting the announcement as a license to stigmatize those who currently use an anchored putting stroke.
The USGA issued the following statement today:
"This is a deplorable incident, and there is no place in our game for this kind of behavior. As we noted when announcing proposed Rule 14-1b, it has been and remains entirely within the Rules of Golf for players to anchor the club while making a stroke. There should not be a shred of criticism of such players or any qualification or doubt about their achievements, and we think that it is inappropriate even to suggest anything to the contrary. Rule changes address the future and not the past. Up until now and until such time as a Rule change were to be implemented, golfers using an anchored stroke will have been playing by the Rules of Golf." "We are sorry that Keegan had to experience this unfounded criticism from an obviously uneducated spectator. Instead, Keegan and other PGA Tour professionals should be commended for their maturity and grace in managing through a proposed change to the Rules of Golf.
"While we understand that the proposed Rules change would cause some short-term angst, we believe the new Rule would serve the long-term best interest of the game."
Golf's ruling bodies have not received universal acclaim and consent from the golf world for the proposed rule that could end the use of anchored-style putting strokes such as those used by Keegan Bradley, current U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson and the most recent British Open champion Ernie Els. But it's clear golf's ruling bodies are making every effort to explain the logic of the rule without indicting those who have been using the anchored style of putting.