Full USGA statement on anchoring ban

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2013, 12:20 pm

Below is the full statement from the USGA pertaining to the adoption of Rule 14-1b, which will ban anchored strokes as of January 1, 2016 (Click here for a video explanation of the rule):

'Last November, after an extensive review, we proposed Rule 14-1b, to prohibit anchoring the club in making a stroke. Having heard and considered many thoughtful comments for and against the proposal, the USGA and The R&A have now adopted the Rule, effective January 1, 2016. This Rule has broad support across the world-wide golf community. While some may disagree with this decision, as Chair of the USGA’s governing board, I want to ensure that our reasoning is understood by all.

'Rule 14-1b protects one of the important challenges in the game – the free swing of the entire club. The traditional stroke involves swinging the club with both the club and gripping hands held away from the body, requiring the player to direct and control the movement of the entire club. Anchoring is different:  Intentionally securing one end of the club against the body, and creating a point of physical attachment around which the club is swung, is a substantial departure from that traditional free swing.

'Anchoring creates potential advantages, such as making the stroke simpler and more repeatable, restricting the movement and rotation of the hands, arms and clubface, creating a fixed pivot point, and creating extra support and stability that may diminish the effects of nerves and pressure.

'That anchoring provides such potential advantage is confirmed by those who play, teach and observe the game: Players say that they anchor for such reasons; instructors advocate the stroke for such reasons; and players who oppose anchoring point to such potential advantages. Indeed, some object to Rule 14-1b precisely because they think that, without anchoring, some golfers might play less well (and thus play less).

'Some object that we have not shown statistically that anchored putting is a superior stroke. But the playing Rules are not based on statistical studies; they are based on judgments that define the game and its intended challenges. One of those challenges is to control the entire club, and anchoring alters that challenge. Moreover, the issue is not whether anchoring provides a statistically demonstrable advantage to the average player, or on every stroke or in every circumstance. What matters here is whether, by diminishing obstacles inherent in the traditional stroke, anchoring may advantage some players at some times. Statistics are not necessary to resolve that issue.

'Others suggest that anchoring must not be advantageous because relatively few use it. But many golfers believe that anchoring is not a proper way to play the game and have not anchored for that reason. Also, the trend over two decades is toward remarkably increased use – a particularly worrisome trend now that beginners and juniors are being taught anchored strokes.

'Anchored putting has generated serious division about whether those who anchor are playing the same game and facing the same challenges. Such divisiveness is corrosive to a game based on sportsmanship. Rule 14-1b will serve the game by removing the cause of this divisiveness.

'Some argue that it is unfair to adopt Rule 14-1b, on the view that the Rules have allowed too many to anchor for too long. We respectfully disagree.

'The notion that a Rules change must be made soon after an issue is identified, or else be considered foreclosed, regardless of negative effects, is contrary to the history and needs of the game. Many Rule revisions have occurred only long after an issue was first identified, such as the changes relating to croquet-style putting, the 14-club maximum, and the stymie. More recently, discussion has been ongoing about slow play, use of video evidence, scorecard penalties, and other such Rules issues. The passage of time cannot bar us from addressing such issues, for it often takes time to refine the issues, assess potential solutions, and build the consensus needed for change. Players at all levels know that the Rules are subject to change at least every four years, and they adapt accordingly.

'Further, the effects of this new Rule are much less than has been suggested. Recent surveys indicate that, even with the recent upsurge in usage, anchoring is currently used by only 2-4% of all golfers in the United States and Europe, and by even fewer in other parts of the world. Moreover, Rule 14-1b leaves those affected with many options for playing the ball:  It does not ban any equipment – a player can use the same long putter or belly putter, take the same stance, grip the club in the same way, and make the same pendulum-style stroke; he or she need only move the hand or club slightly off the body. Also, a vast number of other grips, styles, and methods remain available. Putting without anchoring has been used at some point by virtually all who have played the game; and many players have used both methods in practice and/or in play, switching from one method to another with limited transition time. With more than two and a half years until the Rule takes effect, the small percentage of golfers who are affected have plenty of time and means to adapt.

'We have heard and genuinely empathize with those who will need to adjust.  But the understandable objections of these relative few cannot prevent adoption of a Rule that will serve the best interests of the entire game going forward. Indeed, rather than being too late, now is actually a necessary time to act —before even larger numbers begin to anchor and before anchoring takes firm root globally.

'Some object that Rule 14-1b might negatively affect participation in the game. But the game is growing world-wide – and anchoring is hardly used where much of this growth is occurring. Moreover, the major causes of recent reduced participation in the United States and Europe – where national economies have been weak – are the expense of the game, the time that it takes to play, and the perception that the game is not always made fun and accessible for juniors and the like. No meaningful data suggest that anchoring plays any material role in driving participation rates.  Indeed, the recent upsurge has occurred mainly because some golfers believe that anchoring helps them to play better, not because it is their only resort.

'While we care deeply about participation and are thus leading numerous health of the game initiatives, the USGA must also protect and preserve the game and its challenges for all players world-wide for the long term.  That is the point of Rule 14-1b.

'For this reason, we cannot accept the view that Rule 14-1b should be applied only to elite players, either through permanent or temporary “bifurcation” of the Rules or an optional condition of competition. The method of stroke is a fundamental aspect of the game; and an integral part of the game’s appeal is that golfers at all levels can play the same course with the same equipment under the same Rules. To adopt a Rule or condition of competition that enabled non-elite amateurs, perhaps 30-40 times a round, to gain the potential advantages of anchoring, while prohibiting professionals and elite amateurs from doing so, would effectively create two different games and undermine the integrity, traditions, and global appeal of the game.

'We understand that some golfers are expressing concern with this change. But the proper solution is not to allow alteration of the challenges of the game and pull the game apart, but rather to work together to help these golfers overcome their concerns.

'We respect that some golfers and golf organizations have raised questions about this Rule. For the reasons I have offered, which are further elaborated in a statement posted on our website, we are convinced that there are compelling answers to these questions.  We hope that those who have expressed concerns know that they have been heard and can appreciate our reasons for concluding that Rule 14-1b is in the best interests of the game, even if they would have decided differently. We ask that all now join with us in moving forward for the good of the game.' – Glen Nager, USGA president

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Snedeker still in front on Day 3 of suspended Wyndham

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 11:21 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Brandt Snedeker held a three-stroke lead Saturday in the Wyndham Championship when the third round was suspended because of severe weather.

Snedeker was 16 under for the tournament with 11 holes left in the round at the final event of the PGA Tour's regular season.

Brian Gay was 13 under through 12 holes, and Trey Mullinax, Keith Mitchell, C.T. Pan and D.A. Points were another stroke back at varying stages of their rounds.

Thirty players were still on the course when play was halted during the mid-afternoon with thunder booming and a threat of lightning. After a 3-hour, 23-minute delay, organizers chose to hold things up overnight and resume the round at 8 a.m. Sunday.

When things resume, Snedeker - who opened with a 59 to become the first Tour player this year and just the 10th ever to break 60 - will look to keep himself in position to contend for his ninth victory on Tour and his first since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.


Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

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The 2012 FedEx Cup champion won the tournament in 2007, the year before it moved across town to par-70 Sedgefield Country Club.

Snedeker's final 11 holes of the round could wind up being telling: In seven of the 10 previous years since the tournament's move to this course, the third-round leader or co-leader has gone on to win.

And every leader who finished the third round here at 16 under or better has wound up winning, including Henrik Stenson (16 under) last year and Si Woo Kim (18 under) in 2016.

Snedeker started the day off strong, rolling in a 60-foot chip for birdie on the par-4 second hole, then pushed his lead to three strokes with a birdie on No. 5 that moved him to 16 under. But after he sank a short par putt on the seventh, thunder boomed and the horn sounded to stop play.

Gay was 12 holes into a second consecutive strong round when the delay struck. After shooting a 63 in the second round, he had four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole. He placed his 200-yard second shot 10 feet from the flagstick and sank the putt.

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Lexi charges with 64 despite another penalty

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Lexi Thompson ran into another awkward rules issue while making a bold charge at the leaders Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

She hit a speed bump at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course when she was assessed a penalty for violating a preferred-lies local rule.

Five shots off the lead at day’s start, Thompson birdied six of the first nine holes, making the turn in 30 to move two off the lead, but that’s where she got her second education this season on the implementation of local rules.

At the 10th tee, Thompson blew her tee shot right, into the sixth fairway. With preferred lies in effect, Thompson picked up her ball, cleaned it and replaced it within a club length before preparing to hit her second shot at the par 5.

According to Kay Cockerill, reporting for Golf Channel’s early live streaming coverage, LPGA rules official Marty Robinson saw Thompson pick up her ball and intervened. He informed her she was in violation of the preferred lies rule, that she was allowed to lift, clean and place only when in the fairway of the hole she was currently playing. She was assessed a one-shot penalty and returned her ball to its original spot, with Robinson’s help. The local rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

Cockerill said Thompson handled the penalty well, shaking her head when realizing her mistake, and chuckling at her gaffe. She then crushed a fairway wood, from 215 yards, up onto the green. She two-putted from 50 feet and walked away with a par.


Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


“Thankfully, Marty intervened before she hit her next shot,” Cockerill reported. “Otherwise, she would have been hitting from the wrong spot, and it would have been a two-shot penalty. So, in a sense, it saved her a shot.”

Thompson is making a return to golf this week after taking a month-long “mental break.” A year ago, she endured heartache on and off the golf course, with her competitive frustration having much to do with being hit with a controversial four-shot penalty in the final round of the ANA Inspiration. She appeared to be running away with a victory there but ended up losing in a playoff.

Earlier this year, Thompson got another education in local rules. She was penalized in the second round at the Honda Thailand after hitting her ball next to an advertising sign. She moved the sign, believing it was a moveable object, but the local rules sheet that week identified signs on the course as temporary immovable obstructions. She was penalized two shots.

In her pretournament news conference this week, Thompson shared how difficult the ANA controversy, her mother’s fight with cancer and the death of a grandmother was on her emotionally. She also was candid about the challenge of growing up as a prodigy and feeling the need to build a life about more than golf.

Saturday’s penalty didn’t slow Thompson for long.

She made back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th holes to post a 64, giving her a Sunday chance to win in her return.

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U.S. Amateur final comes down to Devon vs. Goliath

By Ryan LavnerAugust 18, 2018, 9:45 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – On his family’s happiest day in years, Nick Bling stood off to the side of the 18th green, trying to collect himself.

His oldest son, Devon, had just advanced to the U.S. Amateur final, and he surely knew that, at some point, the question was coming. Of the many members in the family’s boisterous cheering section that came here to Pebble Beach – a clan that includes Nick’s brothers and sisters, his in-laws and the teaching professionals of his hometown club – one person was conspicuously absent.

So for 22 seconds, Nick couldn’t utter a word.

“She’s watching,” he said, finally, wiping under his sunglasses.

His wife, Sara, died in February 2013 after suffering a sudden blood clot that went to her brain. She was only 45, the mother of two young boys.

The news took everyone by surprise – that day Nick and Devon were together at a junior tournament in southwest California, while Sara was at home with her youngest son, Dillon.

“That was bad. Unexpected,” said Dillon, now 16. “I don’t even want to think about that. That was a rough year.”

Sara was a fixture at all of the boys’ junior tournaments. She organized their schedules, packed their lunches and frequently shuttled them to and from China Lake, the only course in their small hometown of Ridgecrest, about two hours north of Los Angeles, where they’ve lived since 1990.

An engineer at the Naval Air Weapons Station, Nick picked up the game at age 27, and though he had no formal training (at his best he was a high-80s shooter), he was the boys’ primary swing coach until high school, when Devon was passed off to PGA instructor Chris Mason.

“Devon has world-class raw talent, and there’s a lot of things you can’t teach, and he’s got a lot of that,” said UCLA assistant coach Andrew Larkin. “But his dad looked at the game very analytically. He was able to break down the golf swing from a technical standpoint, and I think that has helped him. His dad is a brilliant man.”

Devon watched his dad hit balls in the garage and, at 18 months, began taking full swings with a plastic club, whacking shots against the back of the couch. Once his son was bigger, Nick put down a mat and built a hole in the dirt on the family’s property.


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


Once it was time for the next step, there was only one option in town. China Lake is more than 300 miles from Pebble Beach, but in many ways they’re worlds apart. The course is dead in the winter, picked over by the birds in the spring and baked out in the summer, with 110-degree temperatures and winds that occasionally gust to 60 mph. Devon still blossomed into a well-known prospect.

“Growing up in Ridgecrest,” Devon said, “some could say that it’s a disadvantage. But I could use the course and take a shag bag and go out and practice. So I used it to my advantage, and if it weren’t for that golf course, I wouldn’t be here today.” 

Nor would he be here without the support of his family.

Asked how they survived the tragedy of losing Sara so suddenly, Nick Bling said: “Brothers. Kids. Friends. Half of Ridgecrest. The town. They all came together. What do they say, that it takes a village to raise a boy? It did. Two boys.”

Devon carried a 4.2 GPA in high school and played well enough to draw interest from UCLA. He played on the team last season as a freshman, winning a tournament and posting three other top-10s. The consistency in his game has been lacking, but the time spent around the Bruins’ coaches is starting to pay off, as he’s developed into more than just a swashbuckling power hitter. He has refined his aggression, though he’s offered more than a few reminders of his firepower. Last fall, the team held a Red Tee Challenge at TPC Valencia, where they all teed off from the red markers. Bling shot 28 on the back nine.

In addition to his awesome game, Larkin said that Bling was one of the team’s most mature players – even after arriving on campus as a 17-year-old freshman.

“I think his mannerisms and his charisma really come from his mom,” Larkin said. “It was a super hard time in his life, but I think it helped him grow and mature at an early age. He’s such a good big brother, and he took a lot of that responsibility.

“There’s a blessing in everything that happens, and I think it made him grow a little young. I think he’s the man he is today because of her.”

In his player profile, Bling wrote that his mom always wanted him to play in USGA championships, because of their prestige, and she would have loved to watch him maneuver his way through his first U.S. Amateur appearance.

After earning the No. 41 seed in stroke play, Bling knocked off two of the top amateurs in the country (Shintaro Ban and Noah Goodwin), edged one of the nation’s most sought-after prospects (Davis Riley) and on Saturday traded birdies with Pacific Coast Amateur champion Isaiah Salinda.

In one of the most well-played matches of the week, Bling made six birdies in a seven-hole span around the turn and shot the stroke-play equivalent of a 65 to Salinda’s 66.

The match came down to 18, where Bling bludgeoned a drive over the tree in the middle of the fairway, knocked it on the green in two shots and forced Salinda to make birdie from the greenside bunker, which he couldn’t.

Bling was a 1-up winner, clinching his spot in the finals (and the 2019 Masters and U.S. Open), and setting off a raucous celebration behind the rope line.

“He played as good as I’ve ever seen,” Larkin said. “The talent has always been there, and I’m glad it’s coming out this week.”

Another difficult opponent awaits in the championship match. It’s a mismatch on paper, a 36-hole final between Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland, ranked fifth in the world, and the No. 302-ranked Bling. Hovland had won each of his previous two matches by a 7-and-6 margin – the first time that’s happened since 1978 – and then dropped eight birdies on Cole Hammer on Saturday afternoon.

But he’s likely never faced a player with Bling’s resolve – or a cheering section as supportive as his family’s.

“This means a lot to us,” Dillon said. “It was finally Devon’s time, and I knew one day it’d come down to the finals. He’s been playing awesome. Mom is probably really happy right now.”

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Report: Fan hit by broken club at Web.com event

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 18, 2018, 9:12 pm

A fan was hit by a broken club and required stiches Friday at the Web.com Tour's WinCo Foods Portland Open.

According to ESPN.com, Kevin Stadler slammed his club in frustration causing his clubhead to break and it struck a fan in the head.

The fan required six stiches and was released from the hospital.

Orlando Pope, a Web.com Tour rules official, spoke with ESPN.com:

"It was a very freakish accident. Kevin is devastated. He had trouble trying to finish the round. He was quite worried and felt so bad.''

Former PGA champion Shaun Micheel was in Stadler's group and posted this message on Facebook:

"One of my playing partners played a poor shot with a 7 iron on the par 3 fifteenth hole this morning. In a fit of anger he slammed his club against the ground and the side of his foot which caused the club to break about 6” from the bottom. I had my head down but the clubhead flew behind me and hit a spectator to my right. It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much blood. We stayed with him for about 15 minutes before the EMT’s arrived. The last I heard was that he had a possible skull fracture but that he was doing ok otherwise. [Stadler] was absolutely shattered and we did our best to keep his spirits up. This was not done on purpose and we were astounded at the way the club was directed but it shows you just how dangerous it is to throw or break clubs. Each of us in the group learned something today!"