USGA Might Ban Practice Of 'Anchoring' Putters
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
You thought Dodd-Frank was a big deal in the realm of regulation and rule-making? Well, get a load of Rule 14-1B, which gets to the heart of the matter, or perhaps the soft underbelly of the matter; the matter being putting.
The U.S. Golf Association and The Royal and Ancient, the USGA's British counterpart, are proposing a ban on anchoring putts.
David Dusek is deputy editor of Golf.com and joins us from New York. Do I have this right, it's not a club that would be banned but a stroke?
DAVID DUSEK: No, there is no piece of golf equipment that has been banned or is planned to being outlawed. This is a method that will prohibit players from being able to take a golf club, putting it into their abdomen, their sternum, anyplace in their chest, or affixing it to any part of their body, and then trying to make a stroke. That has been something that has been very popular. And the USGA and The R&A has said enough is enough, and will longer allow it.
SIEGEL: So popular that in this year's British Open, the dramatic fourth round, when Adam Scott blew a big lead and Ernie Els won, both of them were anchoring their putters.
DUSEK: That's correct. And Keegan Bradley really sort of is the tipping point a year and a half ago, when he won the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011. He was the first player to use an anchored putter to win a major championship. This year, in 2012, we had Webb Simpson win the U.S. Open Championship at the Olympic Club in June, in San Francisco. So those three players are the only ones, in about the 600-year history of the game of golf, who have been anchored putter users who've won major championships.
And really, what the USGA and The R&A are most concerned about is the number of elite amateurs, collegiate players, and junior players who are starting to come up and use this method; not as a method of last resort because they're starting to get the yips and the shakes and the nerves are getting to them but because they feel that they will give them some type of an advantage over traditional putting.
SIEGEL: We should just add here, yips is a technical term and it means what happens to putters after a certain age and...
DUSEK: Usually an unspoken word we don't like to talk about.
SIEGEL: OK. Now listen, the argument in favor of anchoring a putter is the game changes. Drivers are twice the size they used to be, the ball isn't made of balata anymore, the shafts haven't been made of wood for decades, so it's a different way of putting. What's the big deal?
DUSEK: Really, there's not statistically, Robert, a way that you can say, well, it is a way to improve your ability to get the ball in the hole. And that was one of the things that I asked during the media conference today, to both Peter Dawson of The R&A and his counterpart Mike Davis at the USGA - has there ever been a study that proved that it is easier to hit the ball into the hole with an anchored method.
And they both basically said no, there is not, but we do not consider it a swing of the golf club. It is a stroke that's more of a pendulum motion that's taken some of the skill out of the game.
SIEGEL: Tiger Woods has spoken on this matter. I gather that counts for something. He's against this anchored putting.
DUSEK: Very much so. He feels that you have to swing the other 13 clubs in your bag; and why shouldn't you have to swing the 14th club. And he's been very outspoken about that. Other players have obviously come out and said something along the lines of the same thing. Rory McIlroy, who is currently the world's number one, is also in favor of a ban. And Gary Player, who's been probably the man who's traveled the farthest and widest in the game of golf, probably in its history, has also said that the right decision has been made by making this ban.
SIEGEL: And just to be clear, this is a proposed rule. Colossal as it is, it wouldn't take effect till - when is it - January 1st, 2016?
DUSEK: Two thousand sixteen, correct. We are under a three-month sort of a Q&A period, if you will, where some different folks who have a vested interest in the game of golf are going to be able to give some feedback now that we've gotten the official language. But for all intents and purposes, we'd be pretty surprised if this did not go into effect January 1st, 2016.
SIEGEL: David Dusek, deputy editor of Golf.com, thanks for talking with us.
DUSEK: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.