Proposed anchor ban will have little effect on amateurs

By John HawkinsNovember 28, 2012, 7:17 pm

Let’s face it: if two guys in their 20s don’t win major championships eight months apart while using long putters, all this growling about anchoring doesn’t get loud enough for golf’s governing bodies to hear it. There would have been no rules alterations – certainly not this quickly, anyway – which makes this a self-corrective measure caused largely by the little man.

The U. S. Golf Association can talk all it wants about its decades of research. Timing is everything, however, and when Webb Simpson won a U.S. Open from the clubhouse after one of golf’s most reliable performers (Jim Furyk) collapsed down the stretch, it reminded the recreational golfer that nerves play a huge role in who wins and loses.

From Joe Sixpack’s viewpoint, anchoring the putter amounted to an untoward competitive advantage – a method used to eliminate the free-flowing movement of arms and hands, and thus, reduce the effect of nerves on the stroke. So the people spoke. Both the R&A and USGA listened, leading to legislation that willcome into play beginning in 2016.

Three years? My goodness, who won’t have the yips by then?

Anchored-stroke ruling: Articles, videos and photos

If this change could have a potentially serious impact on the pro game, you’ll have a hard time convincing me the abolition means much at the grass-roots level. “It’s totally a better-player issue,” says former assistant pro Dave Burstein, 35, who has used a broomstick on and off for the last eight years. “I don’t think the casual player understands or really cares about the long putter.”

OK, I thought, maybe my boy Dave just doesn’t want everybody latching on, no pun intended. So I called Paul Ryiz, my head pro at the Little Brown Dog, a nine-time overall champion of the PGA of America’s Connecticut Section. “If we’re going to lose [golfers] because of a ban like this, it sounds pretty ridiculous,” he assessed.

A noble position, for sure, although Ryiz also admitted, “I have not sold one long putter or belly putter in the five years I’ve been at our club.” We’re talking about a membership that has purchased 60 or 70 regulation-length putters from Ryiz over that same period, although an 8 handicap who shoots 74 probably isn’t going to dabble much when it comes to experimentation on the greens.

Perhaps we’re guilty of using too broad a brush here, so I’ll defer to PGA of America president Ted Bishop, who sent a letter to the USGA earlier this week opposing the ban. In the letter, Bishop refers to a 16-percent response rate among the nation’s 27,000 club pros, which he calls “extremely high.”

Really? Here we are in late November, when perhaps two-thirds of America’s golf courses are about to shut down for the winter – and the guys who run them don’t have 10 minutes to reply on a matter that has been one of the hottest topics in golf for the last eight months? Perhaps a majority of the 84 percent who didn’t respond simply don’t see the long-putter ban as significant to their cause, be it in the shop or on the first green.

Regardless, 16 percent is 16 percent. In any context, it’s not a number from which volumes of inspiration can be drawn. “It takes a lot of practice to learn how to use the long putter,” says Bruno deBiasi, 52, a seven-time club champ at Brooklawn CC and owner of one of the best amateur short games I’ve ever seen. “That might be the hurdle that keeps a lot of recreational players from using it. It’s not a very athletic stance. It’s actually pretty awkward once you’ve gotten used to a conventional-length putter.”

For all the analysis devoted to the anchoring ban in the near and distant future, it’s important to understand that neither the USGA nor R&A hold lawmaking jurisdiction on the PGA or European tours. The change had to be implemented on a game-wide basis, covering Joe Sixpack first, then Webb Simpson, but only if the lords of pro golf choose to follow the lead of their fellow governing bodies.

If ever a matter cried for bifurcation – better known as two sets of rules – this would seem to be it. Unless you count yourself among a relatively silent minority, however, the game as you and I know it won’t change much, if at all.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.