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November 28, 2012

USGA and R&A dropped ball on anchored strokes years ago

I wholeheartedly agree with the United States Golf Association and Royal & Ancient in their determination that an anchored stroke should not constitute a stroke under the rules of golf.

They have formulated a proposal to ban anchored strokes from the game beginning in 2016, including the use of long and belly putters that are anchored to the body.

But what took them so long? The USGA and R&A have created their own monster on this one.

They have allowed the proliferation of long putters and belly putters without a peep.

Rocco Mediate won a PGA Tour event way back in 1991 using a putter that was anchored to his body, and several other high-profile players turned to anchored putters in the years that followed, including Fred Couples and Paul Azinger.

By not addressing the issue of anchored putters for more than 20 years, the USGA and R&A have silently given their approval to the putters with their indifference and inaction, and allowed players such as Keegan Bradley and Carl Pettersson to build careers using them and young players to learn the game with them.

Now they want to take the method they have essentially condoned for two decades away.

They have not only let the genie out of the bottle, the genie has already granted three wishes.

The USGA and R&A have dropped the ball on this one, and have needlessly damaged the game with more than two decades of inaction -- much like Major League Baseball damaged its product by turning its back on steroid/HGH use by going so many years without rules against performance enhancing drugs or testing to detect them.

If the ban is approved as expected early in 2013, it won’t be enacted until 2016. I applaud the governing bodies for at least giving players three years to adjust and master another putting method.

It’s the least they can do after botching the situation and allowing the long putter phenomenon. Their mishandling of the situation will adversely affect many in the industry and game, all the way from equipment manufacturers who have spent millions of dollars developing the long putters to high school players trying to earn college scholarships who have grown up using them.

Some PGA Tour pros who use long putters have said they'll consider lawsuits.

The governing bodies should have acted on the anchoring issue long ago so all of this could have been avoided.

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