Anchoring long putters to any part of the body will be illegal beginning in 2016.
No one should be in shock.
Last year, the USGA and R&A, golf’s governing bodies, announced plans to look into such a ban and on Tuesday it became official that an anchored stroke will be illegal in about 2 ½ years.
Now, the PGA Tour must adopt the same policy. There’s no other choice.
To have a tour operating with different rules is ludicrous. They call this bifurcation, and it’s possible the PGA Tour won’t follow suit with the USGA and R&A.
It’s preposterous a governing body thinks those belly putters, not the humans operating them, have given an unfair advantage. However, with four of the last six major winners having yielded long putters – Adam Scott being the latest at the Masters – the governing bodies felt they had to make a change.
Even more ridiculous would be if the PGA Tour didn’t follow suit.
In a statement, the Tour said: “We will now begin our process to ascertain whether the various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions and, if so, examine the process for implementation. In this regard, over the next month we will engage in discussions with our Player Advisory Council and Policy Board members …’’
There’s nothing to discuss. The world’s best players aren’t going to use regulation putters in one tournament and go back to the long putter at, say, the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club. This would be a mess.
Putting is all about consistency. And although Scott surely would love to continue using the piece of equipment that won him his first major last month, he can’t. He could use a long putter, sure, but he couldn’t anchor it to any part of his body.
“We strongly believe that this rule is for the betterment of the game,’’ said Glen Nager, president of the USGA. “Rule 14-1b protects one of the most important challenges in the game – the free swing of the entire club.’’
Webb Simpson, who won the U.S. Open last year with a belly putter, said when the idea was proposed last year that if he had to switch, he would be fine. He already was preparing for such a day.
Players have more than two years to make the switch, so time isn’t an issue.
The PGA Tour can’t think the world’s best golfers would consider anchoring putters in its tournaments – if allowed – and not in others where it will be banned.
The rules in golf need to be the same across the board, for the casual player to amateurs to professionals.
Consistency is everything in golf, and the PGA Tour knows that. Whatever it thinks of the rule, it’s forced to abide by it, too.
“… If there was some type of schism we don’t think that would be good for golf, and we are doing what we think is right for the long term benefit of the game for all golfers,’’ said Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA. “And we just can’t write them for one group of small elite players.’’
Golf’s governing bodies have taken a stand against anchored putters. Now, the PGA Tour must follow suit. Like it or not.