Last week, the governing bodies of golf announced a ban on anchored putters. Historically, when golfers putt (i.e. roll the ball along the green to try to get it into the hole), they swing the putter back and forth freely. In recent years, a growing number of golfers have used a different technique, wedging the butt end of the putter into their stomach, or resting it against their chin. For a variety of reasons, the head honchos of golf are against anchoring the putter. I don’t have a strong opinion pro or con on this decision. My hunch is that a careful data analysis would show that anchoring the putter doesn’t do much to help or hurt most golfers. (For instance, I am about equally bad either way.) Golfers who don’t play in tournaments can continue to use anchored putters if they like. Tournament golfers will adjust.
In my view, the attention given to anchored putting is a distraction from the real issue that bedevils golf: pros hit the ball too far and everyday golfers hit the ball too short. Pros hitting the ball too far is a problem because there is a huge stock of old golf courses, the value of which are greatly depreciated by the increases in distance. Classic old courses aren’t hard enough to challenge the pros. In response, large investments are made to stretch the distance of these courses to keep up. And changes in the tournament courses alter the perceptions of golfers. The course I grew up playing was hard enough when I was a kid, but now is perceived as too easy because it doesn’t compare to the championship courses.