Has the correct decision on anchoring been made?

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NCG weighs up the long-anticipated and highly contentious decision concerning long putters

YES Being able to putt under pressure is a major part of golf

Controlling your nerves and coping with moments of high tension, whether that is to score two points in the Stableford or knock in a three-footer for the Masters, is the essence of the game – and indeed any sport for that matter. Why should poor putters be indulged? The same hardly applies to the hopeless chipper, or the hapless shanker or the wild driver.

Until recently, the long putter was the last resort of the stricken – anyone using one might as well have had a luminous sticker on their shirt declaring their putting incompetence.

Rather than helping them, usually it just gave them the chance to compete. Now the belly, in particular, is seen as an advantageous method as it allows the skilled practitioner to make a stroke that is not at the mercy of a twitch. So the R&A and USGA have acted in the best interests of the game.

There has been a recent boom generally and especially in the Majors – while young players are now learning to putt with bellies and brooms rather than resorting to them. This is not in the spirit of game, just as it wasn’t when Sam Snead’s side-saddle method was outlawed many years ago. This ruling keeps the game free from bifurcation – which many believe is crucial to the integrity of the game – and nor does it ban any equipment.

As ever, it is up to players to find new methods and the best way to get the ball into the hole.
This is a messy, belated and unsatisfactory piece of legislation. NO This is an unsatisfactory, knee-jerk reaction based on very flimsy evidence

So we can all rest at ease. Never mind the performance of the modern ball, the unhindered march of equipment technology and the pace of play becoming ever-more glacial. One piece of legislation from the stable-door-horse-bolted department and everything is rosy in golf’s garden.

Hardly. This is a messy, belated and unsatisfactory piece of legislation. For a start, where is the statistical evidence that the long putter is actually more effective?What is to say this is not just  a fad, a fashionable whim?

Golfers have been free to use long putters for decades – surely if it was that effective we would all have been doing so years ago? That the rule has been made based on method of stroke rather than banning a certain type of equipment does little to dispel the notion the authorities are running scared of the manufacturers and the threat of legislation.

It also appears they are dealing in knee-jerk responses rather than proactively. Why has it taken so long to introduce this rule if it is so important?

At a time when numbers of golfers in most developed golfing nations have reached plateaux at
best and stagnation and worse elsewhere, is it really sensible to risk those who have suffered with the yips being turned away from the game for good?

And how will such a technical rule be upheld away from the tours? Truly, there are more questions than answers.

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