In the days before the USGA and R&A announced a proposed ban on anchoring clubs, Joe Ogilvie found himself in a conversation with an amateur golfing friend. Ogilvie’s friend is 68 years old and fighting the yips. Anchoring the putter has been a form of salvation.
Is he willing to give it up?
“He’s going to continue to use it,” Ogilvie said Sunday night in a telephone interview. “He said, ‘I’ll just buy the course and play under my own rules.’”
Ogilvie laughed as he told the story, but he is serious about the polarizing issue of the anchored putter. On Wednesday, the game’s governing bodies proposed changes to Rule 14-1 that would prohibit anchoring the club in making a stroke beginning in January of 2016.
Ogilvie, a former member of the PGA Tour policy board, is concerned about the ramifications at the amateur level.
“The pros are paid to figure out every means necessary to get better,” Ogilvie said. “But most sports allow amateurs to play in easier conditions. I just can’t imagine the club professional telling the 68-year-old club president who has the yips, ‘Look, the belly putter, you can’t anchor it because Keegan Bradley, Ernie Els and Webb Simpson won majors.’”
David Ogrin, who won the 1996 La Cantera Texas Open, agreed.
“Why would the keepers of the game do anything at this time in our game’s history to make it harder and more difficult for people of any skill level to play?” Ogrin said in a telephone interview. “The game of golf is slowly leaking players in participation. If anchored putting makes it easier for people to get competent at the game, I say leave it alone. This [ruling] is reactionary. We need to attract players not subtract them.”
While much of the attention will be focused on the professional game – Tiger Woods has said he is an favor of a ban, Phil Mickelson is opposed – it is at the amateur level where the largest impact may be felt.
Tom Patri, a Golf Magazine Top 100 teaching professional, has a number of students who anchor their putters.
“I’d tell them they’d better come up with an alternative [to anchoring] pretty soon,” Patri said via phone. “I think [the USGA and R&A] waited too long. What are you going to do, put a star next to Keegan Bradley’s PGA? But this is really killing the guy in the club championship. People are not realizing the trickle down effect with the average player and decline of people playing. You are taking away the average guy’s enjoyment. I don’t think [the governing bodies] are acting in the best interests of the game, considering how much water is under the bridge.”