Van Cynical Mailbag: The clock’s ticking on anchored putters and your questions answered

Keegan Bradley tied for fourth in last week's U.S. Open with an anchored putter.
Al Tielemans/Sports Illustrated

Let’s synchronize our watches, shall we? There are six more major championships left until anchored putting strokes are banned from competition.

You may have noticed that Keegan Bradley, after a brief fling with a conventional length putter, returned to a belly putter last week and tied for fourth at the U.S. Open. Adam Scott, your long-putter wielding former Masters champion, tied for ninth.

Ernie Els, who won a British Open with a belly putter, went conventional length last week, too, and finished 35th.

The clock is ticking. Let’s see who can stay in denial the longest. It should be pretty interesting by next summer.

Meanwhile, let’s check the Van Cynical Mailbag:

Vans, After watching the guys at Pinehurst, which women do you think will do well this week? — Kokomice via Twitter

I’d go with Martina Kaymer, Erika Compton, Brooke Koepka, Henrietta Stenson, Madam Scott, Justine Rose, Philamena Mickelson, Jord Ann Spieth and Francesca Molinari. My long-shot picks are Louise Oosthuizen, Victoria Dubuisson and Booetta Weekley.

Van Sickle, How much did it cost to keep NBC quiet about Phil Mickelson’s federal investigation? #hushmoney #kpmg — GolferWils via Twitter

I realize that some people see conspiracy everywhere but really, I can’t comment until my check clears. Sorry, Man.

Sickle, I heard Johnny Miller say that Pinehurst’s greens were over the top and should be redone. Agree or disagree? — RexTG via email

The redesign gave No. 2 definition on TV. You can tell where the fairways and greens are and the course looks a lot more interesting but if a course’s defense against scoring is predicated on making shots that land eight feet from the pin roll off the green, maybe defending against scoring is overrated. I agree with Johnny that the greens are over the top. The USGA got the setup right Thursday and Friday when scoring was feasible but dropped the ball badly Saturday and Sunday and exposed Pinehurst’s miniature-golf greens. I disagree with Johnny that the greens should be redone. They’re Donald Ross, leave them alone and let the tourists have at ‘em. Just don’t bother bringing another Open back.

Van Cynical, I heard all that crap about reduced water usage being golf’s future and saw how sparse the course looked at Pinehurst. Is is true that brown is the new green? — JCgolfguy via email

Yes, the powers that be are running that concept up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes. American courses are universally over-watered and far too green. Letting a course go brown is a good way for an American superintendent to get canned. So we’ll see if this turns into a trend. And if brown is the new green and orange is the new black, what’s going to be the new brown? I don’t think purple is up for it.

Vans, If the USGA had to pick three courses for a permanent U.S. Open rotation, which three would you nominate? — Doug via email

Oakmont, Pebble Beach and Shinnecock Hills. Winged Foot brings a lot of history, Bethpage Black brings big crowds, Dougie, but I could settle for those three.

Sickle, If a ball lands on a Pinehurst No. 2 green and rolls off the side but there’s no one there to see it, does a USGA official smirking still make a sound? — Funster via email

Don’t tell me — you were a philosophy major at Dartmouth? For as much as the USGA gang says they don’t care about scoring, it’s funny how they turned the rack to DefCon 1 levels after Martin Kaymer opened with 65-65 at Pinehurst. USGA exec Mike Davis said that was how they always planned to set up the course, the same on the first two days, then really difficult Saturday and not quite as difficult Sunday. Maybe so. The answer to your question, F-man, is yes, but perhaps somebody at Fox Sports ought to remind the USGA that Saturday is a much bigger TV viewing audience than the first two days and bogey-train golf doesn’t make for good TV.

Van Cynical, I always thought you and Jack Nicholson had much in common. — GolfConnectionsML via Twitter

Did you mean the receding/vanishing hairline or the penchant for wielding an ax indoors? Other than that, I don’t know what you mean.

Vans, Can you confirm the rumor that the NGA Tour (formerly Hooters) will play Pinehurst No. 2 immediately after the U.S. Women’s Open? — Chad Rucker via Twitter

I can neither confirm nor deny that rumor, FuddRucker, but your clever point is well made. It makes me wonder how the Champions Tour got left out in the whole Pinehurst No. 2 tournament buffet? Why not back-to-back-to-back USGA events, finishing with the U.S. Senior Open?

Van Cynical, Why can’t we take phones into tournaments? Attract today’s youth! — Chad Rucker via Twitter

Have you been to a movie theater or on a plane or at a golf tournament with real live people? They are completely incapable of using phones responsibly, whether it’s talking loudly or clicking photos during backswings. Last time I was at Pebble Beach for the Open, I saw marshals point out/confront fans talking on cell phones in gallery. Did they get off their phones? No, they turned and walked the other direction and continued their conversations because they’re so important. Not a news flash: People are stupid and selfish. Except for those who read this column, of course.