IF THEY BAN THE BELLY ...
Hanger: It seems the anchoring ban is a foregone conclusion, and we've beaten this topic to death over the past few years. Our opinions are all on the record. (Quick review of my take: Bollocks!) So here are two forward-looking questions: 1. Will the belly brothers be able to compete if they can no longer anchor? 2. Will the anchoring major winners (Ernie Els, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley) be seen as lesser champions for having used a method that was later outlawed?
Walker: 1. I don't think Bradley, Simpson and Scott will have too many problems going back to traditional putters. The long putter isn't a cure-all. If you can putt effectively with it, you can putt effectively with a traditional putter. 2. Can't imagine they'd be seen as lesser champions. They still came through when it counted.
Wei: 1. Hard to say, but with a few exceptions, I think they may not be as competitive as they were without the anchor. Usually, you go belly only if you have to. If you could putt as well with a conventional putter, why would you anchor? 2. No, they should not be seen as lesser champions. That notion is ridiculous. They won fair and square when it was legal.
Bamberger: The ones who basically became golfers with the belly will have a hard time. Imagine using a wooden driver if you'd never used one before? No problem at all for those who won with it. Like Bob Gibson's era, when they lowered the mound.
Dusek: I echo Micheal's thoughts and believe that golfers who have used a belly putter for a long time -- like Brendon Steele who started using one in college -- will have a tougher time, but these guys are all pros and they'll find a way to putt. It will just take some a longer time than other and a few guys will be more successful than others. That's sports. As for thinking less of guys who used a belly to win a major ... no way. They're major winners. Period.
Herre: The guys who anchor will adapt and innovate. If there's no limit to the length of a putter -- and it would be a major oversight if there isn't -- the sky's the limit as to what styles could be concocted. Just today I saw an infomercial on sidesaddle, non-anchored belly putting, and it seemed to make sense (both eyes looking directly at the hole).
Van Sickle: I think the next putting fad will be sidesaddle, and it's not a bad way to go. And if the USGA thinks anchored putting looks bad...
Ritter: Pros should be able to adapt to a new putter rule, but you have to wonder how much success guys like Keegan, B. Haas and Webb would have with a traditional flatstick. I mean, there's a reason they were using long putters to begin with, right? The success of belly converts will be a very interesting story to track if the ban happens.
Van Sickle: Nobody in the future is going to care how they won, to answer the second question. But the players who use belly putters, and definitely the long putters, will have a serious adjustment to make. I expect several variations of the belly stroke to catch on. I also think this would be a terrible, too-late and wrongheaded decision. I'd love to see some PGA Tour players, maybe even the PGA Tour, stand up and say, hey, maybe it's time to make our own rules.
Hanger: I think there will be some purists, the same ones pushing for the ban, who will consider the anchorers to be lesser champs, and borderline cheaters. I also think that's ridiculous, but some will put a mental asterisk next to those major victories.
Van Sickle: Doubtful but possible. Not that many fans can even tell you who putts with what, much less remember that in 10 years.
Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Will the long-time belly-users be able to compete if the anchored putters are banned? Will the belly-users' accomplishments be diminished if their putting style becomes illegal?
THIS WEEK'S MAIN EVENTS
Hanger: Which are you most looking forward to this week, Tiger in Malaysia or Rory in Shanghai? And who wins the Tiger-Rory exhibition match in China?
Van Sickle: Neither. The Grand Slam of Golf might be more interesting. Personally, I'll be checking out the World Long Drive Championship in Mesquite, Nev. Now there's a place to see some incredible and unique swings. Last year's runner-up had his shaft pointing straight down at the top of his backswing.
Herre: Couple of brand-building exhibitions in Malaysia and Shanghai. Who wins? Who cares? It will be interesting to see if there's any heat in the Tiger-Rory match. Probably not. They may be doing commercials together before next season starts.
Walker: Tiger is still the more compelling athlete, but I'll pick McIlroy in the exhibition. Unless he brings his girlfriend.
Bamberger: Neither means much to me. Alan's reports from points East will be the best part.
Wei: I'm much more interested in the hit-and-giggle tournament I'm playing with my stepdad in Thailand. I liked the idea of the Tiger-Rory match, but now it just seems like it'll be the same ol' thing. They'll laugh and chat and goof around like they usually do. It's not going to be a Sunday singles at the Ryder Cup.
Dusek: Honestly, I'm finding it hard to get pumped up for yet another Tiger-Rory head-to-head match. They've played so much together since the PGA Championship that it doesn't seem as special to me as it should. I'll be more interested in the tournament that features the most compelling field.
Walker: These events aren't meaningless to Woods and McIlroy. With his heritage, I think it's important to Tiger that he puts on a good show when he comes to Asia.
Wei: I think what's more important is the (I presume) seven-figure check they're both getting for showing up.Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Which event are you more excited to see: Tiger in Malaysia or Rory in Singapore?
Correction: An earlier version of this article said that Rory McIlroy would be playing in Singapore this week. He's playing in the BMW Masters in Shanghai.