Anchor Ban turns out to be no Big Deal
At the height of anchoring, interest in it on tour and among the masses was not as a matter of last resort, but as a more efficient way to putt – something the R&A’s Peter Dawson cited as largely the impetus for the rule prohibiting the anchored stroke that went into effect a year ago.
Now, with a full year of non-anchored putting complete, the question might be asked, “Was it really a better way?” The stats seem to indicate any improved performance from anchoring was virtually nonexistent .Those who were good putters before continued to putt well, and those that struggled continued to have trouble finding the hole.
At the last full-field PGA Tour event of 2015 (The Barclays), seven players on tour today anchored: Keegan Bradley, Tim Clark, Brian Harman, David Hearn, Carl Pettersson, Adam Scott and Webb Simpson. Harman and Hearn ranked among the top 50 in strokes gained/ putting and remained there (Harman rising from 47th to 15th); Scott (pictured), Simpson, Bradley and Clark were all outside the top 125 and remained there. Scott improved modestly, Bradley got somewhat worse, and Clark didn’t play enough events (just two in January 2016) to draw a reasonable conclusion.The one anomaly: Pettersson, who was 31st in 2015 but dropped more than 100 places last season.
And what about Bernhard Langer? The PGA Tour Champions stalwart barely moved his Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball Long putter away from his body (causing some, early in the year, to insist he was still anchoring) and went on to rank second in putting average – an impressive accomplishment given that he led the tour in greens in regulation. (He led the tour in putting average and GIR the year before.)
“I practised a great deal,” said Langer. “Spent many weeks, months, lots of hours on the putting green, trying different techniques, but also working with the long putter non-anchored. I came to the conclusion that in the short term, it’s definitely the easiest for me to use the long putter non-anchored.” Apparently so. Langer won the tour’s season-long Charles Schwab Cup for the third consecutive year, and has taken his number of victories on the senior tour to 30, second only to Hale Irwin’s 45 wins.