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Golf Australia Express : December 2012
ANCHORED putting only really became an issue after Keegan Bradley won the 2011 PGA Championship—as if one major win somehow legitimised the ‘unfair advantage’ claims. When Webb Simpson won the US Open in June with his belly buddy and then Ernie Els did the same at The Open a month later, three out of four majors seemed too many for the ‘belly ban’ antagonists to hack. At the root of the concern was the ‘anchoring’ of the putter against the stomach or chest (or chin where broomsticks were involved) before the stroke. Many see it as an unfair way of controlling shakes over a nervy putt. Of course, they have a point. Golf is littered with tales of shaky players succumbing to the pressure with the flatstick in hand. Outspoken radio personality and former Tour player Mark Allen is a staunch opponent of the long putter and anchoring. “I think it go against the spirit of the game,” he told OTG. “And it’s taken a lot of the skill out of putting.” But if there really was such an advantage to using a long putter, why weren’t all golfers on Tour using one? “For a long, long time people who used short putters sniggered at those players who used a long putter,” Allen said. “And I can tell you for the guys who don’t use it, it is a pride issue. There’s a shame that goes along with using one.” The real question that must be asked in this ugly saga is why has anchoring been acceptable to golf’s governing bodies for nearly 30 years, but now all of a sudden it is not? What was the final straw that broke the belly’s back? The silence from the R&A and USGA camps on that question is deafening. On the course, it seems players are being unfairly blamed and criticised over an issue that can only be the fault of the governing bodies. Why has it taken them so long to make a call on long putters? To an outsider, the trigger for the decision seemed to be Chinese golfing prodigy Guan Tianlang’s win at the Asia- Pacific Amateur Championship. The win secured the 14-year-old a spot at Augusta next year. Tianlang having only ever played with a belly putter apparently sent alarm bells ringing about the future of the game. Better act quickly. (We’re tipping he has never teed off with a persimmon driver either.) PREDICTABLY, we’ve seen evidence there’ll be more belly battles on the issue before any real belly laughs. Vocal belly-putter backer Keegan Bradley was heckled as a “cheater” by a crowd member at the Tiger Woods World Challenge just days after the announcement of the proposed rule change. McDowell loves performing in front of big crowds. Why wouldn't he when they love him back? COVER the COVER the