Scott’s triumph may hasten the end of anchored putters

Victory completes ‘Grand Slam’ of Majors won with controversial clubs

Tue, Apr 16, 2013, 06:00

The issue of anchoring of belly- and long-putters – and the proposed banning of what Arnold Palmer calls “contraptions” – won’t go away, and Adam Scott’s success in the US Masters, despite being hugely popular for him as a person, has only served to stir up the debate even further.

What Scott did was to achieve a long-awaited breakthrough win in the Majors.

But, more than that, he completed a Grand Slam of Majors for proponents of anchored putters: Scott’s win in the Masters, together with those of Keegan Bradley (2011 US PGA), Webb Simpson (2012 US Open) and Ernie Els (2012 British Open) meant the last of the four boxes was ticked off.

In terms of timing, Scott’s win couldn’t have been better planned, with the R&A and the USGA, the two governing bodies of the sport, set to make an announcement – possibly next month – on their proposal to implement a ban on anchoring from January 2016.

The R&A and the USGA allowed consultations on the debate from interested parties and that period concluded last month. The two governing bodies are currently reviewing matters, with an announcement due shortly.

The PGA Tour in the United States and the PGA of America have stated their opposition, whilst the European Tour and the Ladies European Tour have said they will go along with whatever ruling is made.

Green jacket

The manner in which Scott boldly holed out critical putts down the stretch to take the green jacket will, ironically, probably hurt the cause of those seeking to allow such an anchoring method to continue.

Just over two years ago, the affable Aussie was in the throes of despair with the short putter but, since moving to the boomhandle putter in February of 2011, he has been transformed.

Since moving from the conventional short putter, Scott has won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (2011) and finished runner-up in the Masters (2011) and contended in the British Open at Lytham.

Where once he couldn’t be trusted to hole a putt, Scott’s play of Augusta National’s famously slick greens under the utmost of pressure on Sunday probably sealed the fate of the anchored method of putting.

Asked in the aftermath of his win here in Augusta how his putting feat with the putter would reshape or further the long putter debate, Scott responded: “I don’t know what it’s going to do. We are all waiting to hear what’s going to happen. I don’t know that this is going to impact any decisions at all. You know my feeling on it all; that it was inevitable that big tournaments would be won with this equipment, because these are the best players in the world and they practice thousands of hours. They are going to get good with whatever they are using. It’s inevitable. I don’t know that is going to have any impact on any decisions upcoming."

The putter which Scott used was a Scotty Cameron for Titleist Futura X prototype with a 52-inch long shaft.

“I’ve worked pretty hard with Scotty Cameron on a putter this year. I had a kind of backyard garage prototype in my bag for a couple of tournaments but now it looks more like a production model,” said Scott of the new putter which guided him to a green jacket.

In fairness to Angel Cabrera, the man on the other end of Scott’s wizardry with the long putter, there was no sense of suffering any injustice. “I don’t think there is any advantage. If it really is an advantage, why doesn’t everybody play with it?” asked Cabrera.

Although the consultation period is over, the debate has continued to rage on with the US Tour – where players like Tim Clark and Keegan Bradley have been most vociferous in their right to use the anchoring method – even alluding to a bifurcation of the rules, which would allow them to make their own rule on tour to allow the method.

Interestingly, Jack Nicklaus – the all-time record holder of Majors, with 18 – voiced his concern that the PGA Tour would even consider such an option.

“To have that happen . . . . would set a bad precedent. I hope that doesn’t happen. If the USGA and the R&A say, ‘No, we’re going forward with it’, I Hope the (PGA) tour says, ‘OK, we’ve always played by the USGA rules, we will continue to play by the USGA rules’.”

His objection

Palmer, for his part, set forth his objection to anchored putters in a recent interview at his tournament in Bay Hill where he said he hoped golf would continue to be unified under one set of rules and those rules would ban a long putter that is “hooked” to the body.

With four of the last six Majors having been won by players who anchor the longer putters to their bodies, be it to the stomach, sternum or chin, Scott’s win has put a super-trooper spotlight on the issue.

Ironically, in winning, he has probably sealed the fate of the anchored putters.