Last week, the USGA announced a ban on anchored putters. Historically, when golfers putt (i.e. roll the ball along the green to try to put into the hole), they swing the putter back and forth freely. In recent years, a growing number of golfers have used a slightly different of a kind approach, wedging the butt end of the putter into their stomach, or resting it against their chin. For a variety of reasons, the head people of golf are against anchoring the putter. My hunch is that a fastidious detailed analysis would show that anchoring the putter doesn’t really do much to help or hinder most golfers (for example, my putting is equally poor either way I try!). Golfers who don’t play in tournaments can continue to use anchored putters if they like, however tournament golfers will have to adjust to the new rules.
In my view, and I dont really have a bias either way, the attention given to anchored putting is just a distraction from the real concern that bedevils golf these days: that the pros hit the ball much too far and average golfers hit the ball much shorter. Pros hitting the ball too far is a real predicament since there is a enormous amount of old golf courses out there, the difficulty of which is noticeably depreciated by the increases in distance. Classic old courses are not difficult enough to challenge the pros these days. In response, large investments are being made to stretch the distance of the pro courses to keep up with player and equipment developments. Also adjustments in the tournament courses alter the perceptions of golfers. The course I grew up playing was challenging sufficient when I was a child, nevertheless now is perceived as easy due to the fact it does not compare to the current championship courses.
However non pro golfers just don’t hit the ball incredibly far in comparison. Whereas the pros hit their drives around 300 yards, the common golfer hits his drives at possibly 220 yards on average. A 7,250 yard course is considered short for the pros, but is impossibly long for a player who hits 220 yards. The result is that it takes forever to play a round, & it may get impressively frustrating, espcially if you dont have he weather for it!
The clear remedy to this disparity in distance would be to have a range of sets of tees, with the pros playing from the back tees, and the hackers hitting from the front tees. This occurs, to a certain extent, but it is challenging to enforce the bad golfers playing brief tees. At my home course, I nearly always play from the front tees because I like to make birdies, in spite of this more or less no one else does. It took weeks of argument before I could even convince my 66-year-old playing partner and father Richard to play the short tees! When I go to renowned courses (which is very rare, invites please), I often try to play the back tees to “get my tupence worth.” With positive thoughts, I can shoot really high scores, but I need to see what it feels like for the pros.
I wonder, however, whether technology may help prevent existing cources from becoming antiquated, while also helping out the mediocre golfer. Right now, the limits to how far people hit the ball are not technological, they are regulatory. There are limits on what clubs are allowed to do and rigorous standards to which golf balls must conform. One strategy could be to tighten those standards on clubs and balls so that the ball doesn’t travel so far. This would help with the pros hitting it too far, though would exacerbate the difficulty faced by us amateurs. A second approach would be to have a distinct set of standards for pros and amateurs, yet the governing bodies of golf have made it clear they are against that happening.
So, I’m questioning if there might be a third approach. Basically, what we need is a ball that goes about as far as the existing ball when a golfer with a slow swing speed hits it, nevertheless goes less far than the present ball when a guy like Blake Adams hits it. With current technology, every additional mile per hour of club speed translates into roughly an extra three yards of distance. What I think we are needing is an change to balls or clubs such that an individual who swings the club 90-100 mph still hits the ball the same distance as now, although somebody who swings 125 mph hits it, say, 55 yards farther than the guy who hits it 90-100 mph, rather than 80 yards farther.
Are there any of our readers who can recommend the best way to make this actually happen?