ARDMORE, Pa. — Contrary to what you might think, the recent decision by golf’s governing bodies to ban the anchored putting stroke doesn’t concern Keegan Bradley, the first player to win a major championship using the controversial method.
The US Golf Association and the R&A announced May 21 that their rule proposal banning the anchoring of putters had been approved, and will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. That could leave Bradley and other professional golfers who use either the long or belly model finding a new way to get the ball in the hole.
“To be honest with you, I’m not that worried about it. A lot of people think I will be, but I feel fine,” Bradley said Wednesday, after playing an abbreviated eight-hole practice round for the 113th US Open at Merion Golf Club. “It’s disappointing, but the USGA makes the rules, so we’ve got to follow them.”
Maybe, maybe not. The PGA Tour is in the process of deciding whether it will adhere to the rule; it has taken the official position of objecting to the ban, as has the PGA of America. The tour’s policy board is expected to decide this summer whether it will abide.
What they’ll do is anybody’s guess.
“Honestly, I have no idea,” said Bradley, a Vermont native who graduated from Hopkinton (Mass.) High School. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t, and wouldn’t be surprised if they did.”
Bradley’s win at the 2011 PGA Championship was followed by others who anchor: Webb Simpson at last year’s US Open, Ernie Els at last year’s British Open, Adam Scott at this year’s Masters.
That success, and the impression that more and more younger players were favoring the anchored stroke, forced the USGA and R&A to make their decision, despite anchoring being around for decades.
“They probably needed to do this step at some point, I guess,” Els said. “Probably should have done it 30, 40 years ago, but we’re at this point now and guys are winning a lot of big tournaments, kids are starting to use it, and so that’s what it is. We are what we are.”
Depending on what the tour decides, players who anchor could take their argument to court, charging that the new rule hurts their ability to make a living. Nine players, including Scott, Tim Clark, and Carl Pettersson, have retained Harry Manion, an attorney at Boston law firm Cooley Manion Jones. The players will weigh their legal options, if necessary, once the tour issues its response.
“We have a lot of aspects to consider, but we’re waiting to see what’s going to happen, see what the policy board is going to do,” said Manion, reached by telephone Wednesday. “My players are all reasonable guys. Our intention is not to be averse to the tour.”
Bradley, though, is not part of the group.
“No, I’m not going to get involved in that,” he said. “I support those guys, but I’m not involved.”
Despite what the USGA and R&A announced, the matter seems far from being resolved, at least for those who play professional golf. To them, they’ll either be given the green light from the tour — or a court — to continue anchoring, or ultimately be forced to find another way to putt.
Bradley, and many of the others, are preparing for all scenarios, including the new rule taking effect in 2016.
“Three years to figure it out,” Bradley said. “But I’ll be working every day or offseason, trying to work something in.”