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A letter to the USGA: Bifurcation, I say

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The comment period is over on the proposed anchoring ban, but I offer more commentary – a letter addressed to Golf House in Far Hills, N.J., home of the U.S. Golf Association:

Dear USGA,

Bifurcate. Ban the anchored stroke for professionals and any of your sanctioned amateur events. Don’t mess with a small percentage of the masses.

You’ve dug in, trying to right a wrong you missed decades ago. I respect it. Can’t disagree with it. But by bifurcating, you solve your traditional swing concerns and minimize immeasurable damage. You save face as the governing body of golf, a title you’ve earned and deserve.

I keep using the wooden bat analogy, which isn’t perfect, but it helps make my point. All amateur baseball players know that if and when they should ever get called up to the big leagues, that they’ll have to abandon the metal bat. The reason why the analogy isn’t perfect: almost all amateur baseball players use a metal bat. A very small slice of amateur golfers use an anchored putter. Based on what I’ve seen traveling the golf world and playing public courses for three decades – and especially the last 10 years – the number of anchored putters I’ve seen would be less than 5 percent. But that’s 5 percent the game can’t afford to lose. Not now. Not ever.

Banning the anchored stroke at the elite level should be enough to deter avid amateurs from adopting an anchored stroke at an early age. And it will be enough to influence the amateurs who anchor now, and who have lofty aspirations, to make the switch to a pure putting stroke.

You can’t possibly be worried about the Jim Cowans of the world, can you? My dad's friend, who is 83, uses an anchored putter in hard-fought $1 Nassaus at his local nine-hole executive course in Southern California. Leave Jim alone. And all of the other casual amateurs who are busy trying to squirrel away the time, money and excuses to get in their 10 rounds a year. Even if they're anchoring, we both know their inconsistent participation will result in consistent mediocrity from tee and especially the greens. And if they've convinced themselves it makes the game easier and/or extends their life as an active golfer, then shouldn't you be doing everything but banning it?

By bifurcating, your band of neatly-pressed blue coats come off looking reasonable; willing to compromise for the good of the game. Your game. Which, on the court of public opinion, is busy dribbling legitimate issues such as: slow play, water conservation, affordability, accessibility and fun factor.

It’s March, time to end the anchoring madness.

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