Weekly top 5: Coaches weigh in on anchoring ban

Illinois head coach Mike Small (left) with Luke Guthrie at the 2012 NCAA Southwest Regional.

Illinois head coach Mike Small (left) with Luke Guthrie at the 2012 NCAA Southwest Regional.

It seemed appropriate this week to step outside the ropes of the college game and talk about the U.S Golf Association’s proposed anchoring ban. A lot of opinions have emerged from the professional side of the game, but what are college coaches saying?

This week’s top 5 …

Mike Small, University of Illinois men’s golf coach

“In my opinion, I feel the anchoring ban should be upheld, at least for competitions. I believe that (anchoring) is not a true representation of the spirit of the game and of the way the game was intended to be played. Anchoring does not only help the player to control nerves when they putt, but it helps to master one of the most frustrating aspects of putting: A consistent setup. Many players struggle with having a consistent ball position when putting, but with the putter anchored, it definitely measures the ball position exactly the same on every putt, a very distinct advantage.”

Jamie Green, Duke University men’s golf coach

“My opinion is that clubs should be used with a player’s hands, alone. The biggest challenge now is that long putters/anchored putters were allowed decades ago. It should have been recognized back then by the USGA that clubs were being used ‘in an unusual manner’ when anchored. At this point, since it’s been so many years, I’d say I’d rather have seen the USGA leave it alone (instead of banning anchoring). But, if the USGA still wants to ban anchoring and the PGA Tour and the NCAA want to ban anchoring for their competitive purposes, then I’d be all right with that, too. The elite in our sport maybe ought to have it a little tougher in order to help separate the field with greater skill required, just like in MLB. They use wooden bats, not corked or aluminum, and yet Little League Baseball and NCAA baseball allow aluminum bats.”

Carrie Forsyth, UCLA women’s golf coach

“I actually have very mixed feelings about the USGA ban on anchoring. I don’t think it should have been allowed in the first place, but it has been years and years now. People have built careers using the method. It will negatively impact them without doubt. I personally don’t believe that anchoring is a huge advantage because if it was, everyone would do it. The USGA is attempting to correct a mistake with the ban, but it is going to come at a price for some players and there is an element of unfairness in that -- unlike square grooves, which impacted everyone equally. Like I said, mixed feelings.”

Devon Brouse, Purdue men’s and women’s head golf coach

“I don’t get it. If the anchoring is such an advantage, why doesn’t everyone do it? Doesn’t hurt the game in any way. How is it good for the game in any way by making a few players not as competitive? If the PGA Tour opposes them, they will be sorry. Why can’t the USGA address a very important issue that has changed the game like the distance the ball travels? Take some weight out of the ball and see the great old courses grow teeth again.”

Mic Potter, University of Alabama women’s golf coach

“I am opposed to the ban on the grounds that the segment of the golfing population that it will affect most is the club player. They are simply trying to enjoy the game more through better putting. Private clubs, daily-fee courses and manufacturers all depend on these players investing their discretionary income into their businesses. There is really no competitive advantage gained by these golfers using an anchored putter. I have never felt that any of my competitors gained an unfair advantage by using an anchored putter. I have always felt that if a golfer gained anything in accuracy on short putts, it was more than likely offset in compromised distance control.”

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