What They're Saying: Golf's Heavy Hitters React


Many of golf’s leading voices spoke out Wednesday about the governing bodies’ decision to ban the anchored stroke. 

Here is a sampling:

Johnny Miller: “I could see the Champions Tour making the long putter legal. They’re not going to win the U.S. Open, OK? But it would really help the guys whose nerves have been frayed. And it would keep the amateurs in the game putting pretty good. … You can rank the yips, 1-5. The kids who are using it, the Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley, probably don’t even rank on the 1. The kids out there who are copying them don’t have nerve problems, and they’re ruining it for the guys 1-5. When you’re not able to anchor it and you’ve got the yips, well, that takes a lot of goodness out of the long putter.”

Tom Lehman: “It is blatantly unfair to have let it go on this long and now decades later make this proposed ruling. There are many young players who have grown up with the belly putter, never even using traditional methods. To tell them it is illegal or against the spirit of the game is way late, very unfair and in my opinion unethical. If I were Webb Simpson or Keegan Bradley or Bernhard Langer or anyone else who has poured their hearts and soul into putting this way, I would be furious. The reality is that successful golf is achieved by what happens between the ears. I am disappointed with this ruling.”

PGA president Ted Bishop: “The PGA has long supported the USGA in its role of establishing the Rules of Golf governing play and equipment. We have representation on the Rules of Golf Committee and we have tremendous respect for the USGA in regard to their critical role in writing and interpreting the Rules of Golf.  As our mission is to grow the game, on behalf of our 27,000 men and women PGA Professionals, we are asking them to seriously consider the impact this proposed ban may have on people's enjoyment of the game and the overall growth of the game.”

Jack Nicklaus: “I’m sure the USGA and R&A have thought about this a great deal. I would listen to what they have to say, and what they want to do is only in the best interest of the game. … (Players) will get used to it and they’ll get over it.”

Paul Goydos: “I think they’re throwing a bucket of water in the ocean, but they think they made the right decision. … But it’ll come down to the players. If you want to have a lot of fun, I think you should try and sneak into the (mandatory player meeting on Jan. 22 in San Diego).”

Davis Love III: “I think this proposal will create more division and controversy than impact scoring and be a distraction to the pro game, which is in a great place, and take some fun away from the amateurs. So if it’s not a positive to grow the game, and in a bad economy for any business, why now?”

PGA Tour: “While the USGA and The R&A have kept us updated on this proposed rule change, we only recently have been able to review the final language and have not until now had the opportunity to share it with our Policy Board and membership. As with any rule change, we will go through our normal process of evaluating the potential impact this will have to all our constituents. It will be discussed at our next annual player meeting on January 22 in San Diego, and it is anticipated that it will be reviewed by our Policy Board during its March meeting. During this review process, we will provide periodic updates to our stakeholders.”

Ian Poulter: “To be honest, I’ve always used a short putter, I’ve never used anything other, so for me it makes sense. I know it’s going to cause a lot of unsettlement between players. For some it’s going to be difficult, but for me it makes no difference at all. For my benefit, I’m happy about the ruling.”

Odyssey Golf: “Regarding the USGA and R&A proposal today, Odyssey has long held the belief that confidence with the putter is good for the game, particularly regarding player retention and growth potential. But one of the beauties of putting is that there are so many ways to do it. Notwithstanding the final ruling in 2013, it is Odyssey's pledge to ensure golfers have the same level of confidence when they line up a putt with one of our products – regardless of the putting technique. We have anticipated this proposal for some time now and have been busy exploring several alternative options.”

Padraig Harrington: “As a traditionalist I am pleased. It's for the greater good of the game. I think if belly putters were invented today, they'd definitely be banned, I think everybody agrees with that. I think the issue is should they be banned after 15, 20 years of people using them and I think the R&A and USGA have come to the conclusion that if they don't move now it's becoming so commonplace in the junior game that people are going to think it's normal. The majority of people using the belly putter in professional golf know there's an issue with it. You hear guys using it saying 'well I'm going to use it as long as it's legal.’ But the kids coming into the game, they don't realize there's an issue. The real problem the rules authorities are having is that they're seeing kids at 12 years of age who have never picked up a short putter. They've gone straight to a belly putter because they think that's what's right.”

LPGA: “The LPGA has consistently conducted our official events in accordance with the Rules of Golf as defined by the USGA and the R&A. We certainly respect golf’s governing bodies and their longstanding desire to protect and promote the best interests of the game. The proposed new Rule 14-1b prohibiting ‘anchoring the club’ in making a stroke is not yet final and the LPGA will wait with interest while the USGA and R&A consider further comments and suggestions from the golf community. In the meantime, we will continue to discuss this proposed change with our players and provide our input and thoughts directly to the USGA and R&A.”