x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Golf: New putting rule could be broom and bust

Four of the past six major winners have used anchored putters and rule makers hope to end the trend before it is popularised in another generation.

Ernie Els is one golfer who uses a bely putter.
Ernie Els is one golfer who uses a bely putter.

When golf's governing bodies boldly reaffirmed this week that the anchoring of belly putters was slated for abolition in the future, it spawned a slew of headlines with bad puns like, "belly up," or "anchors away".

If that sounds painful, wait for the aftermath. After three months of fielding complaints from tours, fans, prominent players and organisations, the US Golf Association and Royal & Ancient, the governing bodies since before the professional game existed, stood by their guns and announced that starting in 2016, positioning a belly or broom putter against the body as a means of enhancing stability will be forbidden.

The US PGA Tour and PGA of America fought the ban and are considering their options. The decision could result in a separate set of rules for professionals, lawsuits against tours by players already using long putters, and enough rhetoric to keep the lawyers happy well past 2016.

Four of the past six major winners have used anchored putters and rule makers hope to end the trend before it is popularised in another generation - believing that a golf swing shouldn't be defined as a pendulum motion using the body as a fulcrum to offset yippy nerves.

In a sport where the lack of a unified authority can create greed-driven infighting among the game's factions, the rule was implemented with the best intentions. It could have the worst possible outcome if entities wage war over what is best for them financially, and not what is best for the game.