Brennan Francois turned to a long putter on the golf course after undergoing back surgery. The putter, said the North Augusta amateur golfer, lessened pain and helped him keep playing.
Francois reverted to a conventional putter when his back healed. But he thinks every player should have the choice to make a putt in whatever fashion works best for his game.
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the U.S. Golf Association proposed a new rule Wednesday that would make it illegal for golfers to anchor a long putter against the player’s body. The rule, which would not take effect until 2016, won’t outlaw long, belly and broom-handled putters but some worry it could impact the game’s growth and enjoyment.
“For my own peace of mind, for my own sense of comfort when my back was injured, I want to be able to use a long putter,” Francois said.
Most nonprofessional players abide by the rules of the game and will likely follow the anchored stroke rule, perhaps even taking the long putter out of their bag, he said.
The anchored stroke, which is criticized by some for creating a pendulum motion, has been adopted by more players in recent years. Three of the past five PGA major champions have used long putters.
“The player’s challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis.
Francois and several other Augusta area golfers disagree with the proposed ban.
“Give it more time to see if it effects a major change in the sport,” Francois said. “If a guy can win with a long putter, let him win.”
Larry DeMeyers said professional golfers should be allowed to continue using long putters with anchored strokes. Technology will continue to improve equipment and it’s an equal advantage to all.
“Everybody has the opportunity to use it if they want to,” said DeMeyers, who does not use a long putter because it does not help the quality of his golf game.
Long putters account for 20 percent of putter sales at Bonaventure Discount Golf, said employee Bob Waters. Long putters have been around for several decades but anchored strokes are a more recent development, he said.
“There can’t be a rule as to how a player holds a golf club,” Waters said. “They aren’t using any extra aid.”
Edster Tomlin III, of Augusta, agrees with the proposal. Using the body as an anchor compensates for nerves and shaky hands, and that’s not how the game was intended, he said.
“When it comes to the true professionals, I say no,” Tomlin said.