Gary Van Sickle's Mailbag: Anchored putting ban, plus a industry mogul weighs in
You may have already overdosed on opinions about the proposed anchored putting ban that the USGA and the R&A will almost certainly enact in 2016.
But I got this e-mail from a golf industry executive with some clever responses to Wednesday's press conference. I thought you might enjoy them, delivered anonymously to protect his business, in this revival of the Van Cynical Mailbag.
Here is what I heard during that USGA/R&A press conference banning anchored putters (and here is what I think):
No players will quit the game because of the new anchoring ban. (Because Peter Dawson says so.)
The distance the modern ball travels "has plateaued" and there has been no significant increase since 2002. (Really? That's news to everyone in the golf industry.)
Bifurcation of rules between professionals and amateurs would be the end of civilization as we know it. (Even though every other sport in the world does it.)
The ability to measure your game against Tiger Woods is why players play golf. (Don't bother measuring yourself against Tiger. You won't like the answer.)
Peter Dawson says the three biggest challenges facing golf are alternative leisure activities, pace of play and the expense of playing golf. (The difficulty of the game is no concern, Peter? You're adamant that the "skill and challenge of the game" is not to be messed with? And if pace of play is the number two issue, why do you oppose the use of laser rangefinders, which would speed up play?)
The fact that 63 percent of PGA of America professionals oppose the anchoring ban is irrelevant. (Yeah, what would they know about golf?)
The Matt Kuchar method or the Bernhard Langer death grip for putting are OK. (Because we said so.)
You say too many kids are starting out using anchored putters but the AJGA reported that only 2 percent of its last 5,000 competitors used it. (Again, what would they know about golf?)
The fact that both Open champions, and three of the last five major winners, used anchored putters had nothing to do with our decision. (Peter, your nose is growing!)
-- A golf equipment company mogul who requests anonymity, via e-mail
Well, Mr. Mogul, you're preaching to the choir here. I've already vented my anti-ban feelings. I just don't think you can tell players it's OK to putt a certain way, and let them do it for 10 or 20 years, and then take it away.
Do you think golf should have bifurcated rules?
-- Doug Schwimmer, via e-mail
Does it really matter what I think, Doug? Golf already has bifurcated rules. They will be bifurcated until 2024 when amateurs, like professionals, will no longer be allowed to use modified square grooves. I laugh and cringe at the same time when a USGA type talks ominously about how bad bifurcation would be for the game. There's no what-if. Bifurcation is here. We've already got it. For at least 12 more years.
Hey Van Cynical,
I hear the USGA/R&A is considering outlawing the golf ball and will require players to go back to hitting acorns. -- Dan O'Neill, via Twitter
That would be the nuttiest thing they've ever done. Well, among the top five.
Re anchored putting ban, I think it looks terrible. Thank god it is banned. Deal with it!!
-- @wmt195 via Twitter
Another happy winner. Luckily, I don't have to deal with it, WMT. I don't use a long putter or belly putter, never have. The learning curve to get good with it seems too long for me. I'll stick with the conventional putter. What does look terrible, though, is your typing on Twitter.
What's the next hot trend in putting if long putters and belly putters are out?
-- Stan, Gibsonia, Pa., via e-mail
I'm tempted to say three-putting. But I think you're talking equipment. Next up will be side-saddle putting, where you stand facing the hole and swing a long-shafted club by your side. I think it's got some potential; it's not a bad way to putt. You can search for the phrase "side-saddle putting" and discover a multitude of club options online.