Full USGA statement on anchoring ban

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2013, 12:20 pm

Below is the full statement from the USGA pertaining to the adoption of Rule 14-1b, which will ban anchored strokes as of January 1, 2016 (Click here for a video explanation of the rule):

'Last November, after an extensive review, we proposed Rule 14-1b, to prohibit anchoring the club in making a stroke. Having heard and considered many thoughtful comments for and against the proposal, the USGA and The R&A have now adopted the Rule, effective January 1, 2016. This Rule has broad support across the world-wide golf community. While some may disagree with this decision, as Chair of the USGA’s governing board, I want to ensure that our reasoning is understood by all.

'Rule 14-1b protects one of the important challenges in the game – the free swing of the entire club. The traditional stroke involves swinging the club with both the club and gripping hands held away from the body, requiring the player to direct and control the movement of the entire club. Anchoring is different:  Intentionally securing one end of the club against the body, and creating a point of physical attachment around which the club is swung, is a substantial departure from that traditional free swing.

'Anchoring creates potential advantages, such as making the stroke simpler and more repeatable, restricting the movement and rotation of the hands, arms and clubface, creating a fixed pivot point, and creating extra support and stability that may diminish the effects of nerves and pressure.

'That anchoring provides such potential advantage is confirmed by those who play, teach and observe the game: Players say that they anchor for such reasons; instructors advocate the stroke for such reasons; and players who oppose anchoring point to such potential advantages. Indeed, some object to Rule 14-1b precisely because they think that, without anchoring, some golfers might play less well (and thus play less).

'Some object that we have not shown statistically that anchored putting is a superior stroke. But the playing Rules are not based on statistical studies; they are based on judgments that define the game and its intended challenges. One of those challenges is to control the entire club, and anchoring alters that challenge. Moreover, the issue is not whether anchoring provides a statistically demonstrable advantage to the average player, or on every stroke or in every circumstance. What matters here is whether, by diminishing obstacles inherent in the traditional stroke, anchoring may advantage some players at some times. Statistics are not necessary to resolve that issue.

'Others suggest that anchoring must not be advantageous because relatively few use it. But many golfers believe that anchoring is not a proper way to play the game and have not anchored for that reason. Also, the trend over two decades is toward remarkably increased use – a particularly worrisome trend now that beginners and juniors are being taught anchored strokes.

'Anchored putting has generated serious division about whether those who anchor are playing the same game and facing the same challenges. Such divisiveness is corrosive to a game based on sportsmanship. Rule 14-1b will serve the game by removing the cause of this divisiveness.

'Some argue that it is unfair to adopt Rule 14-1b, on the view that the Rules have allowed too many to anchor for too long. We respectfully disagree.

'The notion that a Rules change must be made soon after an issue is identified, or else be considered foreclosed, regardless of negative effects, is contrary to the history and needs of the game. Many Rule revisions have occurred only long after an issue was first identified, such as the changes relating to croquet-style putting, the 14-club maximum, and the stymie. More recently, discussion has been ongoing about slow play, use of video evidence, scorecard penalties, and other such Rules issues. The passage of time cannot bar us from addressing such issues, for it often takes time to refine the issues, assess potential solutions, and build the consensus needed for change. Players at all levels know that the Rules are subject to change at least every four years, and they adapt accordingly.

'Further, the effects of this new Rule are much less than has been suggested. Recent surveys indicate that, even with the recent upsurge in usage, anchoring is currently used by only 2-4% of all golfers in the United States and Europe, and by even fewer in other parts of the world. Moreover, Rule 14-1b leaves those affected with many options for playing the ball:  It does not ban any equipment – a player can use the same long putter or belly putter, take the same stance, grip the club in the same way, and make the same pendulum-style stroke; he or she need only move the hand or club slightly off the body. Also, a vast number of other grips, styles, and methods remain available. Putting without anchoring has been used at some point by virtually all who have played the game; and many players have used both methods in practice and/or in play, switching from one method to another with limited transition time. With more than two and a half years until the Rule takes effect, the small percentage of golfers who are affected have plenty of time and means to adapt.

'We have heard and genuinely empathize with those who will need to adjust.  But the understandable objections of these relative few cannot prevent adoption of a Rule that will serve the best interests of the entire game going forward. Indeed, rather than being too late, now is actually a necessary time to act —before even larger numbers begin to anchor and before anchoring takes firm root globally.

'Some object that Rule 14-1b might negatively affect participation in the game. But the game is growing world-wide – and anchoring is hardly used where much of this growth is occurring. Moreover, the major causes of recent reduced participation in the United States and Europe – where national economies have been weak – are the expense of the game, the time that it takes to play, and the perception that the game is not always made fun and accessible for juniors and the like. No meaningful data suggest that anchoring plays any material role in driving participation rates.  Indeed, the recent upsurge has occurred mainly because some golfers believe that anchoring helps them to play better, not because it is their only resort.

'While we care deeply about participation and are thus leading numerous health of the game initiatives, the USGA must also protect and preserve the game and its challenges for all players world-wide for the long term.  That is the point of Rule 14-1b.

'For this reason, we cannot accept the view that Rule 14-1b should be applied only to elite players, either through permanent or temporary “bifurcation” of the Rules or an optional condition of competition. The method of stroke is a fundamental aspect of the game; and an integral part of the game’s appeal is that golfers at all levels can play the same course with the same equipment under the same Rules. To adopt a Rule or condition of competition that enabled non-elite amateurs, perhaps 30-40 times a round, to gain the potential advantages of anchoring, while prohibiting professionals and elite amateurs from doing so, would effectively create two different games and undermine the integrity, traditions, and global appeal of the game.

'We understand that some golfers are expressing concern with this change. But the proper solution is not to allow alteration of the challenges of the game and pull the game apart, but rather to work together to help these golfers overcome their concerns.

'We respect that some golfers and golf organizations have raised questions about this Rule. For the reasons I have offered, which are further elaborated in a statement posted on our website, we are convinced that there are compelling answers to these questions.  We hope that those who have expressed concerns know that they have been heard and can appreciate our reasons for concluding that Rule 14-1b is in the best interests of the game, even if they would have decided differently. We ask that all now join with us in moving forward for the good of the game.' – Glen Nager, USGA president

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.