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May 21, 2013

Golf bans anchored putting stroke

(Continued)

The governing bodies announced the proposed rule on Nov. 28, even though they had no data to show an advantage. What concerned them more was a spike in usage on the PGA Tour, more junior golfers using the long putters and comments from instructors that it was a better way to putt. There was concern the conventional putter would become obsolete over time.

The purpose of the new rule was simply to define what a putting stroke should be.

"The playing rules are not based on statistical studies," Nager said. "They are based on judgments that define the game and its intended challenge. One of those challenges is to control the entire club, and anchoring alters that challenge."

The topic was so sensitive that the USGA and R&A allowed for a 90-day comment period, an unprecedented move for the groups that set the rules of golf. The USGA said about 2,200 people offered feedback through its website, while the R&A said it had about 450 people from 17 countries go through its website.

Among those who spoke in favor of the ban were Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker and Steve Stricker.

"I've always felt that in golf you should have to swing the club, control your nerves and swing all 14 clubs, not just 13," Woods said Monday.

Tim Clark and Carl Pettersson have used the long putter as long as they have been on the PGA Tour. Scott switched to the broom-handle putter only in 2011, and he began contending in majors for the first time — tied for third in 2011 Masters, runner-up at the 2012 British Open, his first major victory in the Masters last month.

"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," Scott said after winning the Masters. "They are going to get good with whatever they are using."

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