Golf Tidbits: Rule change is being overblown

The United Stated Golf Association, along with the Royal & Ancient, announced new rules about anchoring clubs on Wednesday.

These changes were months, if not years, in the works and now that they are here, people are up in arms about them.

The crux of the change is that a club cannot be anchored against ones body, nor can a players forearm or hand be pressed against one's body to create an anchor point.

That was the phrase of the day - anchor point.

Players like Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els will have to change their putting styles because they use belly putters that are anchored against their bodies.

Guess what those three have in common? They've all won a major within the last 16 months, so they are PGA Tour members through at least 2016.

Why is that significant? Because that's when the rule changes will go into effect - 2016.

Bradley addressed this on Tuesday at Tiger Woods' World Challenge.

"The announcement from what I understand will be the next rules change, which is not for another three years. I don't know that for sure, but I'll use my style of putting until then," Bradley stated. "And you know, when that time does come closer, I'll start to mess around."

He is one of the lucky ones that has three years to make that change. Not every golfer that uses a belly putter has the time to alter their style because they are fighting to keep their tour card on a year-to-year basis.

Those middling pros are the ones that will be hurt the most. Imagine finishing in the top 30 on the money list this year with a belly putter, then finishing 160th next year because you couldn't find a stroke that worked for you?

The difference at the professional level is competing for millions of dollars on the PGA Tour as compared to hundreds of thousands of dollars on the Tour.

Amateur golfers don't care much about that, but look how enormous the difference is. Kevin Chappell finished 125th on the PGA Tour money list this year and was the last player to keep his tour card via the money list.

Chappell earned $647,511. That is some $214,000 more than Casey Wittenberg, who topped the money list in 2012. David Skinns, who ended 125th on the money list, earned just $34,796 this season. You could make more than that for losing in the first round at the WGC - Match Play Championship.

The money difference for the pros is significant, obviously. However, players have until 2016 to find a putter and putting stroke that is legal and works for them.

Talking heads on Golf Channel and elsewhere are fretting that this will hurt the game. Brandel Chamblee, who I respect tremendously, was way off base in part of his analysis.

Using the numbers of golfers worldwide versus the max number of long or belly putters used at certain tournaments, he surmised that as many as 20 million golfers would be hurt by this rule.

I'd guess that number is far closer to 1 million. Where's the difference? It comes in that the average Joe never plays in tournaments and won't change his putting style because of this rule change.

You think every golfer has changed their wedges to comply with current USGA rules? Doubtful. I know I haven't, but I am also in that group that doesn't play many tournaments.

So players can no longer anchor putters in the belly or against their bodies. Current pros that use long putters like Adam Scott, Carl Pettersson and Tim Clark will just have to adjust their setup, or just go back to a normal length putter.

Their overall talent got them to the level they are at. Changing their putting style isn't going to force them to give up the game. They'll just have to work harder to find a comfortable stroke.

The beauty of golf is that not every swing is the same. This change to the rules isn't trying to make players use similar swings, it's just simply asking players to find a way to make a stroke without having the club anchored against their body.

The pros are the best at what you do. These changes aren't asking too much, so the players have to deal with the change and move on.

Otherwise, they'll have to join the working world like the average golfers that play the game for fun, not for millions of dollars.


It has been going on for years, but the surge of European stars coming to the PGA Tour continues to grow. The depth of the European Tour will be hurt by this in the long run.

Over the years, guys like Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer started playing more and more in the U.S. They were followed by Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy among others.

Next year, players like Peter Hanson, Nicolas Colsaerts and David Lynn will be playing most of their golf in the States.

The European Tour has shrunk their minimum number of events in recent years and that has helped many players be able to compete on both tours.

The movement of some players this year is due to the coming changes in the qualifying process. Starting next year, PGA Tour Q School will only get you on the Tour. That has caused more players to try to make it in the States sooner rather than later.

In the short term, this could hurt the European Tour, but in the long run it will all balance out.


* Another topic that has lots of people up in arms are the coming changes to the Old Course at St. Andrews. Relax guys, it's not like they're re-doing the entire course. They are moving a few bunkers, reshaping a couple greens and widening the Road Hole bunker by 20 inches. Crazy stuff there.

* This week's PGA Tour Q School is the last as we know it. As mentioned, next year, the tournament will only get you onto the Tour. From there, you'll have to play your way onto the PGA Tour.