Top players finding the anchoring ban isn't as bad as they had feared
By Steve Waters
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – As professional golfers Adam Scott and Bernhard Langer have shown, the USGA's anchored putting ban that took effect on Jan. 1 has not been as hurtful as many people thought.
Scott won the PGA Tour's Honda Classic and WGC-Cadillac Championship back-to-back using a short putter and a claw grip in place of his anchored long putter.
Langer won the third tournament of the PGA Tour Champions season, the Chubb Classic in Naples, using his long putter unanchored. The victory, which was keyed by the Boca Raton resident's opening-round 62, was his third top-10 finish of the year and put him atop the senior tour's money list.
Although some players have been adversely affected by the anchoring ban, Scott and Langer have shocked those who assumed they would struggle on the greens.
Barry Goldstein is not surprised by the success Scott and Langer have enjoyed this year. Goldstein, who teaches at Inverrary Country Club in Lauderhill and has helped everyone from beginners and juniors to PGA and LPGA Tour players, saw first-hand how his daughter Carly Ray made the adjustment.
"When the ban was announced [in May of 2013], I remember thinking, 'It's so unfair.' But Carly feels she's putting better now unanchored than when she did when it was anchored," Goldstein said. "A good player finds a way."
His daughter, who is a junior on the LSU golf team, had used the same long putter since she was 8 and did not want to switch to a short putter. So Goldstein, of Coral Springs, encouraged her to start practicing with an unanchored stroke well before the ban took effect.
"When Carly and I played over the summer at Inverrary, I'd say, 'Let's play nine anchored and nine unanchored.' We really didn't make any adjustments at all," Goldstein said. "Basically, what Bernhard Langer and my daughter have both done is neither has changed anything, they've just unanchored it an inch."
That practice paid off for Goldstein in January at the Ione D. Jones/Doherty Women's Amateur Championship at Coral Ridge Country Club in Fort Lauderdale, where the 20-year-old shot a 1-over-par 74 in the qualifier with her new putting stroke to share medalist honors.
"I bet you if you asked Scott and Langer now, they never think about it," said Goldstein of their putting changes. "I know my daughter doesn't think about it, and she's putting better from 10 feet and in."
In press conferences at the Honda, Scott was repeatedly asked about the anchoring ban. After he won the tournament, he joked that maybe now he would no longer have to discuss the subject.
Sure enough, the following week at Trump National Doral, no one in the media asked Scott a single question about the ban.
Two things Scott emphasized during the Honda were his hours of practice with the short putter and his confidence in his new stroke.
"I've kind of said it the whole time: I don't think it's going to be that big a deal for me. It's some hard work, and I'm not afraid of that," Scott said. "I feel it can get better and that's exciting for me. I'm really enjoying putting, and I feel I'm just going to continue to get better and push myself along, and until I'm the best putter out here, I'm not going to stop."
Langer wasn't worried about the ban either when he was asked about it last year during the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton. The two-time Masters champion said he'd figured out ways to putt before he switched to an anchored long putter and he'd figure out something again.
"People like Adam Scott and Bernhard, they're not leaving anything to chance," Goldstein said. "They just worked on it."
And that's Goldstein's top tip for all golfers seeking to lower their scores: work on your putting.
"I think the reason Carly's been a successful player is she practices putting more than anything else," Goldstein said. "Between the driving range and the practice green, if you only had a choice of one, go to the green."
This article was written by Steve Waters from Sun Sentinel and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.