Saturday, July 8

USGA, Bernhard Langer and Scott McCarron Issue Statements to Address Anchoring Controversy



THERE HAS BEEN CONTROVERSY in recent days as to whether Bernhard Langer and Scott McCarron are anchoring their long putters in violation of the Rules of Golf.

"During Fox's broadcast of the U.S. Senior Open last week," reported Steve Eubanks at GlobalGolfPost.com, "camera angles of Langer and McCarron, who uses a similar style, appeared to show the players touching their chests during the stroke, although it was unclear if the hands or clubs were anchored or simply in contact with the players' shirts."

I saw video clips of Langer, whose thumb appeared to be, at the least, creasing his golf shirt. It might not be anchoring, but it seems that only Langer knows for sure.

This is a problem. Langer might not be anchoring, but to some if not many observers it looks like anchoring. That perception is causing unease in the golf world.

And so the USGA and the players issued statements.

USGA Statement

"Over the last two years, the USGA has worked with the PGA Tour Champions and other professional tours to support education and adoption of Rule 14-1b. We are confident that Rule has been applied fairly and consistently and have seen no evidence of a player breaching the Rule, which does not prohibit a hand or club to touch a player's clothing in making a stroke. Integrity is at the heart of the Rules and how the game is played worldwide, and this essential value has made the game enjoyable for all golfers. We will continue to work with our partners at the R&A to listen and review all of golf's Rules, with an eye on making them easier to understand and apply."

Bernhard Langer Statement

"During my 45-year career as a professional golfer, I have called penalties on myself. I believe in honesty and integrity, and I could not live with myself if I broke a rule and did not incur the penalty. I'm certain that I am not anchoring the putter and that my putting stroke is not violating the Rules of Golf. On several occasions, I have been in contact with the USGA and rules officials on the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions, and each time I have been assured that my putting stroke is within the Rules of Golf. I will remain open and honest with rules officials and the governing bodies, and I will continue to play with the same integrity that I've displayed throughout my career."

Scott McCarron Statement

"I have putted with a long putter since 1991 – over half my life – and my putting stroke has not been anchored since the end of the 2015 season. I have logged more than 1,500 hours practicing without anchoring my putter, and the more I practice, the better I get. I'd like to emphatically say that I do not anchor my hand, arm or club against my body during my putting stroke. I have worked with the USGA and PGA Tour Champions rules officials to ensure that I am within the Rules of Golf, and I have extended many invitations to demonstrate and teach people how to use a long putter without anchoring. I have never competed dishonestly because I have the utmost respect for the game of golf, and I will continue to represent myself and the sport to the best of my ability."

Herein lies a problem with the Rules of Golf, including this anchoring rule, in particular. If you have to issue statements to explain your compliance and defend your integrity, there's a heap of trouble.

I'm not suggesting Langer and McCarron are in violation. I give them the benefit of the doubt. But anything that looks like it could be anchoring will continue to fester.

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