LA QUINTA, Calif. – As if the first day of Q-School isn’t stressful enough, a handful of Tour hopefuls – 15 to 20 percent by most estimates – set out on a cold morning in the Coachella Valley with the looming reality that they may have to switch putters sometime in the distant future.
News that the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews plan to ban anchoring took center stage on Day 1 at the Fall Classic, with opinions varying as to whether the move was warranted.
“My view is I always thought that it helped the great putters or the good putters, but for someone who was struggling it took some of the mechanics out of it at the top level,” Tom Pernice Jr. said. “I think they are looking out for the best integrity of the game at the highest level. Anchoring takes care of one of the components of putting by controlling the fulcrum point.”
Even Steve Flesch, who has rotated between a belly putter and traditional-length model since 2003, agreed with the possible rule change, just not the timing which would delay the ban until January 2016.
“I understand them making the change but why wait three years? Everybody that wins with a longer putter over the next three years will they be considered cheating? Can they not rewrite one rule in the rulebook?” Flesch said.
Not everyone, however, agreed with the proposed change or how it has been crafted.
“I thought it was ridiculous the way they went about it,” said Chez Reavie, who began using a belly putter for the first time this week at Q-School. “If they are going to allow you to anchor it up your left arm (like Matt Kuchar), that’s anchoring. If you’re bracing the putter in your stomach that’s the same thing.”
Australian lefthander Nick O’Hern may have the most to lose if the rule is approved next spring. He has been using a broom-handle putter for 20 years and has never putted with a standard-length model in a competitive round.
But like many long-time users of long putters O’Hern didn’t seem overly concerned with the impending change.
“It will be strange,” he said. “They’ve allowed it for so long, but I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it and figure out another way. I have a couple of years to decide.”
Most importantly, he has a couple more rounds at this week’s final stage and that’s much more concerning.