COMMENTARY | One of the more annoying questions circulating around golf - other than "Is Tiger Back?" - is whether or not anchoring your putter is "cheating". For the sake of this holiday weekend, let me do my best to lay this argument to rest once and for all.
No; anchoring your putter is not cheating. For now.
When the USGA and R&A proposed a ban to the anchored stroke earlier in the year, professional and amateur golfers alike were thrown one hell of a curve ball. While a very small percentage of amateur golfers use a long- or belly-putter on the weekend (I've personally only known one person to do so in 20 years of playing golf), some very notable names on the PGA Tour were reaping the benefits of the anchored stroke.
There is no data that I - or anyone else - can find to prove that an anchored putting stroke is more beneficial to the player compared to a traditional stroke. Neither the USGA nor R&A had any data either, but that's never stopped them from making a decision before. Whatever.
The PGA Tour initially decided to stand by its players and opposed the anchored stroke ban, which really didn't do anything more than give golf fans something to debate for a few weeks. Ultimately, as everyone assumed would happen, Commissioner Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour changed their minds and will now accept the proposed ban. Somewhere Adam Scott is crying in a green jacket.
During this whole process, however, PGA Tour players like Scott, Keegan Bradley, Tim Clark, Webb Simpson, Carl Pettersson and Ernie Els continued on their merry ways while using an anchored putting stroke. The players undoubtedly heard their fair share of criticism at every tournament, often being accused of "cheating" or breaking the rules despite the fact that the ban would not be enforced until 2016.
So where does that leave the rest of us Average Joe weekend duffers? Recreational golfers can use the anchored stroke until 2024, although I suspect we will be seeing putter handles jammed into beer guts for much longer. No one should be surprised by that. While I'm not suggesting that weekend warriors are dishonest on the golf course, there is definitely a disconnect between what Rules of Golf are followed and which are not.
Not convinced? When was the last time you discovered your ball was out-of-bounds and walked back to the tee box to re-hit? Chances are you just took a drop, a penalty shot and moved on. Technically, that's cheating. However, no one in your foursome will say anything since that "stretching of the rules" has become second nature in recreational golf.No, anchoring your putter to your body is not cheating for the next few years. On the professional circuit, this issue is pretty cut and dry come 2016. But even after 2024, will anyone really hold a member of their weekend foursome accountable for using an anchored stroke?
Adam Fonseca has covered professional golf since 2005. His work can also be found on the Back9Network. Follow Adam on Twitter at @chicagoduffer.
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