Cal's Stalter, Homa on opposite ends of anchoring ban
When the new proposed anchoring ban was announced by the USGA and R&A on Nov. 28 a lot of pros took to social media to express their opinions.
Well, so did college players.
Even though only a few players use the longer putter, it doesn’t mean they don’t have opinions.
California teammates Joel Stalter and Max Homa took to Facebook for their tiff.
Homa had posted that he was excited about the anchoring ban, but upset that it will take four years for the ban to start (2016 is the proposed year). He compared anchored putting to NBA star Dwight Howard of the Los Angles Lakers’ free-throw shooting, “Howard doesn’t get an advantage shooting free throws because he has no touch.”
While Stalter fired back with, “Do metal driver heads and balls that fly further compromise the integrity of the game as well?”
Homa believes, yes, ban anchoring. He believes it is an advantage for players who use this method of putting. He refers to the ‘ys’ (yips), as part of the game.
“I am a traditionalist when it comes to golf, and anchoring seems far different from how the founders of golf would have liked to see the game,” Homa said.
Since anchoring has grown so much within the last year or so, Homa feels that if players, at any level, were to keep practicing with it, it is possible that their stroke could become infinitely more repeatable since it is lodged in a fixed point on a player’s body.
“I understand that technology has got unbelievably more advanced, however, the swing still remains the same,” Homa said. “With anchored putters, the stroke is now being affected.”
Like he said in the Facebook post, he has never seen someone with a bad swing, step up to the tee and hit RocketBallz straight, but “someone with a bad putting stroke can get a better stroke with belly putter.”
He goes on to say that when a player has a good stroke, meaning they have a stroke that is ‘repeatable and predictable’ that is exactly why a belly putter makes much it that much simpler to make putt, ‘especially when one is nervous.’
“I don’t feel disadvantaged if people use the long putters, I just feel it is straying away from how golf was intended to be played,” Homa said.
On Cal, two of the starting five this fall, Stalter and teammate Brandon Hagy, use the belly putter and anchor. They use the belly putter because they feel more comfortable with it and like it better.
“It’s kind of the same thing as why people use mallets or blades,” said Stalter. “Putting is a sensitive subject, and there is no truth, but I think you need to find what corresponds you best.”
He changed to the longer putter because he was struggling with his short putting, and his putting, in general, was inconsistent.
“There were rounds where I would make tons of putts and others where I would miss a lot of short putts,” Stalter said. “I started putting better… but it gave me more consistency and helped me gain my confidence back.”
Stalter tested the belly putter for about nine months, before deciding to change back to the short putter after Cal’s last fall victory at Isleworth. Although he said he had "absolutely no clue about the ban, and did not expect it to happen that soon so my change (in putters) is not the result of the ban."
The reason for the change back to the short putter was control. He considers himself a ‘feel player,’ meaning he thinks it’s important to be able to swing the putter freely without an anchoring point. So he made the switch back.
“I also believe it gives me more control over speed, which is directly associated with the line and the read,” Stalter added.
Even though Stalter has switched back to the short putter he still believes that the belly putter/anchoring is not any more help than a short putter.
“There is absolutely no hard data that proves it is any help. It is more a belief than a concrete and solid statement,” Stalter said.
The college game will be affected to some point - if the ban sticks - since everyone has different opinions.
Homa thinks differently.
“I don’t think it will make a huge impact on their games because most have only used them for a brief amount of time (similar to many professionals).”
There is no bad blood between Stalter and Homa. They are teammates, but also humans, and their opinions are going to be different and they matter.
“We probably are not on the same page yet, but it’s not like it matters. Had they not banned the anchored putter, we would still go about our business of playing golf,” Homa added.
But Stalter says it best, “It’s a good thing (that we disagree), because we can learn from each other and challenge our ideas.”