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For Anchor Men, The News Is Bad

My name is Mike and I’m an anchorer. More specifically, I’m a recovering anchorer because I’ve spent the past 90 days or so trying to putt without anchoring. I’ve been on such a dry spell before. And to be frank, I’m going through severe withdrawal. In my past two rounds, I hit 13 greens and shot 79 and hit 14 greens and shot 80. I had 38 and 39 putts, respectively, in those rounds. That’s with a conventional-length putter and what will be a proper stroke, at least now that the USGA and R&A have ruled, once and for all. Anchoring does not make me a bad person but that’s the way I’ve been made to feel, drowning in an sea of vitriolic rhetoric that says anchoring is cheating and takes all the nerves out of putting. I’ve played enough, some in competition, to know that nerves exist no matter how you hold the putter. You still have to read the putt and roll the ball on the right line at the right speed. And nerves will affect an anchored stroke just as much as they would a conventional one. Trust me. I anchor – or used to anchor – because I have a form of the yips, the accelerational variety, according to putting guru Marius Filmalter. I flinchingly apply additional force to the putting stroke in the middle of the forward swing and my putts from outside 25-30 feet don’t come close to the hole. That’s why when I use a conventional-length putter, I three-putt much more than I one-putt. When I use an anchored stroke – I prefer a 50-inch putter with the top hand anchored to my sternum – it does not make me a great putter. Far from it. But it does allow me to putt average enough that my ball-striking can be more rewarded. I don’t shoot a bunch of low scores with an anchored stroke. I do, however, have a chance with it. And that’s all I ask. I completely understand why anchoring was banned. I get it. But be honest. Don’t tell me that the ruling bodies felt the need to narrowly define the stroke. What they were compelled to do was rid the game of a stroke because they simply didn’t like the way it looks. In fact, one of the events that tipped the scales was last year’s U.S. Junior, where a significant number of the juniors who made it to match play did so with belly putters. USGA executive director Mike Davis was afraid enough that young kids were learning anchoring as a stroke of choice that it steeled his resolve to ban it altogether. I realize that anchorers are in the vast minority, even on the PGA Tour, but they are significant enough that the ruling bodies wanted to do something about it. This rule doesn’t affect many people. But the role of this kind of rule is to protect the field from something that some players are using to their advantage. And that’s the case that nine PGA Tour players will argue through a Boston attorney they have retained in a move to decide if they will pursue legal action against whomever they think is responsible for what they perceive is taking away their livelihood. There is no advantage. No one, not even the ruling bodies, will argue that. Do I have an advantage on good putters when I anchor? Absolutely not. I’m an ordinary putter at best when I anchor and a very poor one when I don’t. That’s the difference. Period. But I long to be an ordinary putter.


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