From the desk of Tom Wishon:
Those who follow the doings of the golf equipment industry with interest are
aware that on May 21, the USGA and the R&A officially announced their
decision to ban the anchoring of putters to the body. The decision was made
despite the publicly stated opposition of the PGA of America and the PGA Tour to
the ban, as well in the absence of any facts which prove the use of a body
anchored putter automatically enables a golfer to make more putts.
Body anchored putters have been in play for more than 30 years. Up until
2011 you could count the number of tournaments on one hand that were won by
playing professionals using such putters. Of the 700 or so tournaments played
on the PGA Tour
between the advent of the body anchored putter and 2011,
fewer than 1% were won by pros using a body anchored putter. If one wants to
say using a particular type of putter automatically results in better putting,
these statistics could be used to say that the pros who used conventional
putters during this time had the advantage. After all, over 99% of all the
tournaments won between the advent of the body anchored putter and 2011 were won
by pros using a conventional putter.
But in 2011 and 2012, 11 tournaments were won by pros using a body anchored
putter. Did this all of a sudden prove that the use of a body anchored putter
brought an automatic improvement in putting? Perhaps the USGA thought so. On
the other hand, the reason for the sudden increase in wins by pros using the
Belly or Broomstick style putters is more likely explained by the fact that a
much greater number of more pros chose to use this type of a putter so the
percentage of their wins simply increased because of statistics.
Even as the use of body anchored putters increased, far more tournaments have
been won by pros using a conventional putter. So after 30 years of use of these
putters, why did the USGA all of a sudden decide they needed to define that the
putting stroke has to be executed with the grip end of the putter free from the
middle of the body? After all, the game has been played for 500 yrs without any
need to define how one should swing a club. Could it be that among the small
number of individuals who decide what the rules of the game will be, a majority
simply felt the body anchored putters “look bad” and represent in their opinion
a break from one of the traditions of the game?
Rules that relate either directly or indirectly to golf clubs need to be made
on the basis of whether the equipment automatically replaces the skill required
to play the game for all golfers. Golf balls most definitely can be made so
they can be hit significantly farther so we do need to put a limit on the ball.
Driver faces could be made so they allow each golfer to automatically achieve a
3-4% increase in distance, so putting a limit on the COR of the face is able to
But a body anchored putter in no way allows every golfer to make more putts.
It is simply a different type of putter. Just like there are golfers who hit
the ball better with a 44” driver vs one of 46”, or golfers who gain more on
center hit consistency from a D4
swingweight than a D1, or a golfer who hits
the ball better with this shaft vs that one, or any other use of different
clubs, there are simply some golfers who feel they putt better with a body
anchored putter while there are many more who do not. At the risk of being
labeled an anti-traditionalist, with my 40 yrs of experience in golf equipment
research and design, the recent USGA decision to ban the anchoring of the putter
to the body is a capricious and arbitrary decision made on the basis of emotion
rather than science and statistics. Thanks USGA, you now have another poor
decision to add to your previous rulings to change scorelines, and to restrict
the size and length of golf clubs which will do nothing to help the game.