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Tour Pros Not Only Ones Concerned About Anchor Ban

WATERVILLE, IRELAND | As you might expect, the conversation over drinks and dinner during the Society of Seniors’ first International Senior Amateur centered on golf. But what was unusual was how much of the talk involved the recent decision by the game’s governing bodies that anchored putting strokes will no longer be allowed as of 2016. To be sure, there were strong opinions on both sides of the debate as to whether that was a good move or not. But most of the discussion had to do with what the ban was going to mean to this group of elite senior amateur golfers and the organization known informally as the SOS, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The first problem stems from one simple reality: some 40 percent of the players in a typical Society of Seniors tournament use long or belly putters. And most of those folks anchor their putting strokes when they employ those clubs. “What concerns us is what will happen to those guys once the ban takes effect,” says SOS president and former Sports Illustrated managing editor and publisher Mark Mulvoy. “A lot of them play a couple of hundred rounds of golf a year, and play in most of the nine events the Society stages annually. Will this ruling marginalize that 40 percent? Will it cause them to quit competing? And will it diminish the size and the quality of our fields?” It’s an especially pertinent matter for the Society as it watches the number of its Super Senior players (those age 65 and older) explode as the younger set, from ages 55 to 64, seems to be working longer and harder than the previous generation had to – and seems unable to get out on the golf course as much. And many of those Super Seniors, who make up about 70 percent of most SOS tourney fields, have come to rely on longer putters as a result of health issues (bad backs) or serious cases of the yips. All of which means the ban could have a real impact on the group’s most active demographic. Mulvoy says that no one in the organization is being alarmist. “But if something forces 40 percent of your membership to quit, you have to wonder seriously about what you are going to do.” Another issue comes from one of the foundations on which the Society is built, and that is all its tournaments are conducted under the Rules of Golf. SOS founders Dale Morey, Ralph Bogart and Ed Tutwiler were adamant about that, as you might expect competitive players of such skill and repute to be. In fact, they even wrote that tenet into the Society bylaws.


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