Local pros divided on putter ban

Adam Scott won the Masters using the anchored technique
Adam Scott won the Masters using the anchored technique
Scott Gregory. Picture: Andrew Griffin

Gregory misses out

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Local professionals are split on the ruling to ban anchored putters.

A decision was announced this week by the R&A and the US Golf Association to outlaw the use of clubs resting against a part of the body, such as the broom-handle or the belly putters, that will come into effect in 2016.

US Masters champion Adam Scott and last year’s winner at The Open, Ernie Els, both used the so-called anchored technique.

A legal challenge could be mounted to contest the decision, according to some pros – particularly on the US PGA Tour, who have voiced their opposition to the move.

Some argue it was the right decision to maintain the integrity of the game.

But others feel it will stop some golfers playing the sport they love.

PGA of England South chairman, Rob Edwards, who is also the club professional at Lee-on-the-Solent Golf Club, used a belly putter himself on the European Challenge Tour.

But he can see the reasons for and against the argument.

Edwards said: ‘There are two schools of thought on it.

‘One is that the anchored method – whether that’s belly, chest or chin – is not actually a swing.

‘But the second is that it’s quite sad if an amateur can’t carry on using them when they have had problems putting in the past and they have pieced their game back together.

‘The Tour pros who don’t use them are saying it’s an advantage and it’s not a real swing.

‘Well, if it was that easy, why isn’t everyone using them at the moment?

‘I don’t care how strong your principles are, if you are playing for your living and you think it’s easier to putt with a belly putter, then you would be using it.

‘I did use a belly putter and I still practice with one sometimes because it helps rhythm. It’s a simple pendulum motion.

‘I played on the Challenge Tour using a belly putter but I stopped using it because if you are putting badly, your mindset is to try something different.’

Portsmouth Golf Centre’s Terry Healy, however, is more supportive of the rule-makers.

He said: ‘They have absolutely done the right thing.

‘The rules authorities have got to maintain the integrity of the game.

‘I’m all for people playing golf for as long as they can but there is a very high percentage of young golfers in the US Academies being taught anchored putting and that can’t be right.

‘For me, that is the killer reason to change the rule. It’s not about helping a player whose nerve had gone any more.’

Cams Hall professional, Sam Pleshette, believes it will mean some members walking away from the game.

He said: ‘I’m a bit on the fence with this one.

‘There is no anchor point when you are making a stroke with any other club but it will finish some players’ careers – professionals and amateurs –and that means you are losing players from the game.

‘We’ve got a few members who use them and at amateur level they only go to them because they are hopeless with everything else.

‘I’ve had a go and didn’t particularly like them. It just didn’t suit me.’

Hayling’s Mark Treleaven, who has just switched back to a short putter, said: ‘I used the long putter for three or four years on and off.

‘I wanted to improve my putting and I did pretty well with it for a while but I lost a bit of feel for longer putts.

‘It doesn’t really bother me if someone I am playing against uses a long putter, though.

‘Maybe this should have been addressed 25 years ago when they first came out? It’s only that players are winning majors with them that people are seeing it as an issue.

‘I don’t know if I will go back to the long putter again. Never say never!’