August 19

The Putter Anchoring Ban is Stupid

Golf Lessons


Why is this such a big deal?  Why does there have to be a putter anchoring ban?

Seriously, why?  Who does this hurt?  The PGA Tour?  Amateurs that want to post a handicap?  You?


OK… let’s get cut the shit.  Here’s the top 20 from a list of 2014’s PGA Tour leaders in the “it” putting statistic, Strokes Gained:

  1. Graeme McDowell
  2. Aaron Baddely
  3. Greg Chalmers
  4. Matt Every
  5. Freddie Jacobson
  6. Brendon Todd
  7. Luke Donald
  8. Justin Leonard
  9. Daniel Summerhays
  10. Morgan Hoffman
  11. Jimmy Walker
  12. Stuart Appleby
  13. John Senden
  14. Michael Thompson
  15. Matt Kuchar
  16. Richard Lee
  17. Chad Collins
  18. Sang-Moon Bae
  19. Ben Curtis
  20. Jordan Spieth

How many use an anchored putter?  From what I gather, looking at WITB articles, only Matt Kuchar.  According the the USGA, however, when he holds his longer (but not too long!) putter to his wrist, he’s not really “anchoring” it.


How is one kind of anchoring OK, but another isn’t?

OK, OK… so, forget about Strokes Gained.  Anchoring the putter should lead to excellent scores. which should mean high tournament finishes, which means a high World Ranking, right?  Well…

The PGA Tour has a long list of past World Rankings, and we’ll focus on 2014.  Here’s the top 20:

  1. Rory McIlroy
  2. Adam Scott
  3. Sergio Garcia
  4. Jim Furyk
  5. Henrik Stenson
  6. Justin Rose
  7. Bubba Watson
  8. Jason Day
  9. Matt Kuchar
  10. Rickie Fowler
  11. Phil Mickelson
  12. Martin Kaymer
  13. Billy Horschel
  14. Jordan Spieth
  15. Dustin Johnson
  16. Zach Johnson
  17. Tiger Woods
  18. Graeme McDowell
  19. Jimmy Walker
  20. Hideki Matsuyama

Again, how many anchor?  Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar… though, technically, Kuchar’s not really “anchoring”, according to the USGA.  If it helps, Keegan Bradley (27th in 2014) and Webb Simpson (33rd in 2014) are in the Top 50.  Angel Cabrera (56th) used to use a belly putter when he won the Masters many years ago, but he didn’t anchor it.

If we go back to 2013, the only difference is Bradley is at 15th, and Simpson’s at 24th.  Scott is still at #2.  So we have four golfers (technically three, but I’ll count Scott twice, just for kicks) that anchor their putter out of 40 golfers in a two-year span.  That’s 7.5% of the Top 20 (times two) using an anchored putter in a two-year span.

Yes, Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott and Webb Simpson won majors with an anchored putter.  But think of this:

The first “official” use of the long putter was in 1983.  If we go from 1984 to today, that’s 32 years of usage.  Four majors a year over 32 years is 128 majors.  Out of 128 majors, four were won with an anchored putter (Bradley, Simpson, Scott and Ernie Els).  That means three percent (3%!) of all majors on the PGA Tour from 1984 to today were won with an anchored putter.

But it gets better.  The first patent for a belly putter was granted in 1965.  Phil Rogers won twice in ’66 with a belly putter.  No majors though…

So how is this hurting the professional game?  The USGA’s butt-hurt over less than 10% of the Top 20 using their definition of an anchored putter, and a whopping 3% of the last 32 majors victors.

The truth is, it ain’t.  It was a knee-jerk reaction, similar to the box grooved wedge ban from earlier in the 2000’s.

Anchored putters can make the game easier for many of us.  If you have a bad back, or nerve damage in your hands, they can be a godsend.  There’s no statistical proof that an anchored putter gives any positive boost to the professional game… how the hell would it transform us into a Brad Faxon or Luke Donald (really good putters)?

Simply put, it can’t.  There’s more to putting than the putter.  Can you read a green?  Get the speed right?  They eliminated one variable in a host of others.  So what?  What was the purpose of that?

The messed up thing is, they enacted a putter anchoring ban… but they do little to put a cap on driver distance.

Don’t get me wrong: I like driving the ball 260+ yards.  I’m sure those of you that can do it enjoy it, too.  Bubba Watson hit a 402 yard drive on Sunday of the 2015 PGA Championship.  But how can the USGA look in the mirror and be OK with allowing oone thing that allows technology to replace skill (something they’re supposed to be against), but aren’t with another?


Let’s say you’re a golfer with a bad back, but you’re good enough to compete in USGA-sanctioned events.  A belly putter has been wonderful for your back, elongating the amount of time you can spend doing something you love to do.  Guess what?  Come January ’16, you’re no longer allowed to use that device that helps you.

The kicker is, there’s this huge “Grow the Game” initiative.  Don’t get me wrong, I really think it’s a good idea.  But how is limiting the 99% of the golfing world’s population that doesn’t earn a paycheck through golfing’s ability to do well and have fun (by taking away something that can help some or all of us) good for “growing the game”?

Sure, you could stop playing in USGA-sanctioned events… but is that the answer?  If that’s what you love to do, why would/should the USGA make something YOU love to do less enjoyable?


Random Thought: why in hell is the USGA, an entity originally designed to help amateurs, even making the rules for the PGA Tour?  That’d be like allowing the NCAA to make the rules for the NFL!


Even if you don’t agree with me, I think you should stand against the putter anchoring ban.  We have other implements that are advertised as making the game easier:

  • high-COR, titanium-faced drivers the size of grapefruits
  • hybrids, which are easier-to-hit long iron replacements
  • high-COR fairway woods
  • wedges that, while no longer having “box grooves”, are supposed to have “max spin allowed” engineered in them
  • grips of all shapes and materials
  • irons with super-thick soles and toplines

Here’s a kicker: do these things really help?  How many can take a driver off-the-rack, designed to give you all kinds of extra distance and forgiveness, and start bombing it 300 yards down the middle of the fairway?  How many can take these wedges and make the ball spin back on the green like a yo-yo?

Let’s focus on drivers.  Check these pics out:

TrajectoWare program
driver with .79 COR at 90mph swing speed








TrajectoWare program
driver with .83 COR, at 90mph swing speed.








Here’s a couple of screen shots of Dave Tutleman’s TrajectoWare ball flight program.  The first picture is a standard driver swung at 90mph.  The ball’s standard, the angle of attack is level (0*).  The COR is .79.  See the carry distance?  It’s 183.2 yards.

The second pic is the same everything, but the COR’s been bumped up to the USGA limit of .83,  The carry distance goes up to 190.5 yards.  By only changing the COR of the driver, you get an extra 7.3 yards of carry distance.  Not the be-all-end-all it’s made out to be.

There’s no guarantee you’ll sink more putts by anchoring a putter.  If PGA pro’s aren’t doing it… how does it translate into we mere mortals doing it?

OK… rant over.  If you agree with me, if you don’t agree with me… let me know in the comments below!

About the author 

Justin Blair

Justin Blair is the founder of Green Lantern Golf. When he isn't bringing his 10+ years of excellent craftsmanship experience to golf club fitting, building, and repair, he's geeking out about Star Wars (he's watched them all about 8,437 times!) and things like the MCU and LOTR, he's drinking mead and craft brews. If you wanna know more, check out my About Page!

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