Out of Bounds: Langer’s putter anchoring his brilliance
German has been dominant in Senior Majors despite the putting ban imposed in 2016
Bernhard Langer with the senior Claret Jug. Photograph: Phil Inglis/Getty
You won’t find any arguments here when it comes to Bernhard Langer. The man is remarkable, simple as that. And the German - who turns 60 years of age later this month - has defied all the malarkey that went on about anchoring and makes you wonder if there was an over-reaction by the R&A and the USGA in “banning” that method.
First announced in May 2013 and finally implemented in January 2016, the anchoring ban prevented players from sticking the long putter against their chin, chest or any other body part to prevent the club from swinging freely. The point was also made that accidentally brushing the putter grip against, say, a loose shirt was fine.
Which brings us to the here and now, because although most players jettisoned those broomhandle putters into the bin and reverted back to the short stick, others stuck with it and adjusted their stance so that the club would remain in safe hands but without touching their body.
Langer is one of them. Scott McCarron is another. And the evidence of their success is that, between them, they have won four of the five Senior “Majors” on tour this season. Langer, of course, has been the dominant player. His success in the Senior British Open at Royal Porthcawl on Sunday was his third of the year and the 10th of his career.
McCarron won the Senior Players, Langer collected The Tradition, the Senior PGA and the Senior British Open. The odd man out - as in the only one to use a short putter in claiming a Senior Major this year - was Kenny Perry, who won the US Senior Open.
Langer’s on-going dominance hasn’t, it must be said, gone without comment; or insinuations that his use of the long putter is above board. Is the way he is holding the putter a form of anchoring? Is the putter touching his chest? Is it even legal?
On that point, both the R&A and the USGA have exonerated Langer - and McCarron - of any subterfuge or any wrongdoing.
In a recent statement on the matter, which only goes to underscore how much the criticism had been playing on Langer’s mind, the German said: “I’m certain I am not anchoring the putter and that my putting is not violating the Rules of Golf.”
Perhaps there is a degree of jealousy from other seniors in the locker room that Langer has found a way around the anchoring ban to continue to dominate. Perhaps. Or maybe it is a case that there was never any need in the first place for the anchoring ban to be brought in.
Maybe that run of Major winners - Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott and Ernie Els, whose win in the British Open in 2012 was the third straight winner of a Major by a player using the broomhandle - effectively led the USGA and R&A to say enough was enough.
But maybe that was an overreaction, and - given how Langer and McCarron continue to use and win with such long putters without violating the rules - maybe it is time to just get rid of the ban altogether.