From the Morning Read inbox
December 12, 2017
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Hold USGA accountable

Thank you, Ted Bishop, for your well-reasoned advocacy of eliminating the ban on anchoring (“For good of game, restore anchored stroke,” Dec. 11, http://bit.ly/2C2Ei6J).

With so many other issues that the U.S. Golf Association could address to simplify the game, it chose, in adopting the ban, to act on a matter that was really a non-issue.

All the ban has done is to create consternation and controversy. One could expect more from the USGA.

Ted Comstock
Lancaster, N.H.

 

Technique over technology

Thank you for not letting the golfing world end the 2017 season without a strong reality check.

Rule 14-1b is virtually unenforceable (Rule 14: Striking the Ball, http://bit.ly/2z27c7C). The long-putter technology, in concert with its varying strokes, has been one of the most exciting breakthroughs in golf in decades. Yes, it has helped many a player achieve higher levels of performance and, in fact, saved or extended the professional careers of a few. 


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Competitive advantage? No. Every user must spend hour after hour learning how to use it, especially “unanchored.” You are correct in stating the USGA would send a mid-course correction message by rescinding the rule, but that’s not enough at this stage.

Here’s what I have in mind: Due to the advances in golf ball technology, the USGA should dig its heals in and set the policy straight. All USGA events will be played with laminate or persimmon woods.

Come on, America. Spirit of the game? Technique, not technology. It’s time for the American golfer to melt down his metal woods, dust off and polish up those Toney Penna persimmon woods and go home and practice. That’s the spirit of the game. 

Dan Cahill
Santa Ana, Calif.

 

The ‘blight’ of the long putter 

I could not disagree more with Ted Bishop’s screed calling for the return of the long putter.

Those things are abominations on the game, a blight on society. No better, in my view, than those infernal rocks some now call “golf balls.”

Bring back the featherie, as the Lord intended the game to be played. Not to mention hickory shafts, the mashie, the niblick, mandatory ties, plus-fours and sweater vests and – heaven forbid! – no Sunday play.

And don’t get me started with “lift, clean and place” – not in the fairway, not on the putting ground, not on my watch.

Get thee, you heathens, to a church and pray for divine forgiveness. Long putters, indeed.

Gene Richard
Newton, Mass.

 

History favors ingenuity 

I enjoyed your piece on anchoring, as I did reading your comments when the ban was first debated.

In my opinion, the issue should be resolved by reference to the principles behind the Rules of Golf and not the practical effect on any particular golfers or their ability to perform.

History has shown that rule changes made to negate individual ingenuity and game advancement have an adverse effect on the game and have been reversed. For example, the center-shafted Schenectady putter and the steel shaft were banned at one time.

Walter Hagen's concave-faced sand wedge is still banned, but Gene Sarazen's flanged wedge survived. Sam Snead's popularity of croquet-style putting led to its unfortunate ban, but Phil Rogers’ belly anchoring survived for decades until it became popular and the real long putter was developed. (I always pitied the poor caddie that had to lug those things around.)

The real question is whether a particular piece of equipment or manner of play gives anyone an unfair advantage over another player or whether the manner of use of the equipment does not constitute a stroke, as in a push or scrape rather than fairly swinging or striking the ball. Whether the club is held to the body or held in the hand, it is still attached to the golfer in some way. Everyone could apply the method if they wished, and doing so would not change the game, would it?

Because a particular method looks "wrong" in the paradigm of tradition should not alter the advancement by individual adaptation of equipment to their own abilities. They might as well outlaw cross-handed or left-handed golf simply because it does not fit the mold, or any swing technique that doesn't look ideal. 

Ed Smilow
La Quinta, Calif.

 

Longing for the long putter

Thank you for standing up for us long-putter nuts.

I am 77 years old. In 2014, I was a 9 handicap with a long putter. In 2016, I gave up the game after regressing to 17. I tried, but my hands are not as steady as they once were.

USGA executive director Mike Davis is a purist. Why not go back to hickory shafts, eliminate metal “woods” and use featherie balls?

I play(ed) to enjoy myself. Screw the rules.

Phil Riker
Bluffton, S.C.

 

Blame it on the R&A

The R&A was more into the ban from the jump, so they would be the binding constraint in the reversal, in my opinion.

Al Fiscus
Searcy, Ark.

 

A century of tradition

There is a picture that Keegan Bradley found of anchored putting being deployed from the early 1900s. It had been around for more than 100 years when the USGA all of a sudden decided that anchored putting was a problem.

The USGA simply didn’t like the way it looked. Other than that, I can find no logical reason to ban something that had been part of the game for more than 100 years.  

Stephen Joost
Jacksonville, Fla.

 

One game, one set of rules

Golf has survived for hundreds of years with one set of rules (“It’s time for golf to create 2 sets of rules,” Nov. 28, http://bit.ly/2yS6ABx).

The argument for two sets of rules so people could use the long putter makes no sense. The long putter was not banned. Anchoring of the putter was banned.

As witness on the Senior Tour, the long putter is definitely still in use. These folks complaining can continue using their long putter. Just obey the rules we have today.

As far as the ball is concerned, technology has impacted the game. Rein that in, if necessary, but everyone – pros and amateurs – should play by the same rules for the game and the equipment.  

Rick Kimbrell
Weston Lakes, Texas

 

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