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FSGA Monitors Anchoring Debate With Keen Interest

There have been few moves that have caused as much reaction in golf as the joint decision by the USGA and the R&A to ban anchoring. You know, where the butt end of the putter is anchored to the body to steady the yips and make it easier to have a consistent, free-flowing putting stroke. Players of all skill levels weighed in on the decision, which will go into effect with the 2016 rules revision. Some, predominantly seniors, are outraged. PGA Tour players who favor belly putting initially threatened legal action before cooler heads prevailed. Reactions trickled down into the amateur ranks. “Senior players are definitely the most vocal,” said Florida State Golf Association executive director Jim Demick. “They’ve been using the long putter the longest and in some cases, it’s allowed them to still post low scores. If they lose the long putter, those 72s might turn into 78s and they won’t be happy.” Demick feels that a key motivator of the rule change was not as a punitive measure, but more a matter of preservation. “I think one of the primary motivators for the change was the growing use of belly putters by junior players, he said. “We see 11- and 12-year-olds using belly putters and this trend is seen as a threat to the traditions of the game. Based on history, the USGA and the R&A feel that it’s not right. They want to keep a free swinging motion and nerves as a part of the game.” A growing group that seems to have infiltrated every sport is those who have fallen in love with the asterisk. They want to stick it next to baseball records set by steroid users, in football for season records set during the 16-game era and for basketball season-leading leaders in strike- or lockout-shortened seasons. Now there are rumblings about attaching the little stars next to the names of championships winners who won by belly and long putter users. That movement has filtered down to the Sunshine State. If it takes hold, Chase Seiffert would be a three-star star in the record book. Seiffert who won the Amateur Championship, the Florida Open and the Amateur Match Play Championship with a putter firmly anchored to his stomach. For the record, Seiffert isn’t complaining about the impending rule. “I’m not worried about going back to the short putter,” Seiffert said, matter-of-factly. “I haven’t used it that long and I didn’t switch because there was a real problem. I’ve always been a pretty good putter with the short putter. “I only started using the belly putter last spring, so I don’t think there will be a big problem.” If there were no real problems, then why did Seiffert adopt golf’s version of a crutch? “I wanted to make more 8- to 10-footers,” he said. “And I saw some immediate results. I was looking to keep my shoulders square, keeping the ball in the middle of my stance with a consistently good arc. I worked on that every day and it produced some good results. I’m confident that I could get good results with the short putter as well.” Seiffert agreed that the growing use of the belly putter by younger players is a major factor for the ban, but he also felt there was an overriding reason. “Golf has always been a gentlemen’s game, and I think the USGA really wants to preserve the character of the game,” he said. “This is a very prestigious game and it’s a game of honor and I believe they were trying to protect those traditions.”


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