Finishing up my most recent round (a rather desultory affair) quicker than normal (always a good thing), I decided to stop by the practice green before heading home (putting has always been a challenge for me, and I have the 3-putts to prove it). Which got me thinking.
I grew up watching hockey and this time of year is easily my favourite- the Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full swing, the PGA Tour is going, and the weather is great. It was thinking about hockey (and the thought of being able to play golf this morning and watch a playoff game tonight featuring my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs). I have friends who have kids who play hockey (the cost makes golf seem cheap) and at one point I coached youth hockey in the area (at a program geared toward beginners). The league (and all youth hockey) requires that players wear full face cages and doesn’t allow fighting (and the league I coached didn’t allow body checking). Which led me back to golf, and the current furor over anchoring putters.
Every pro hockey league except the NHL requires players to wear visors, and the NCAA requires full facial protection. Even Canadian major-junior hockey requires visors (they also require the certified visors which are affixed differently than the visors you see in the NHL) and they also require kevlar neck guards and the helmets to have ear flaps. In short, different rules at different playing levels.
But what about football? Different rules. Receivers only have to have one foot in-bounds for a catch, and there’s the whole college football overtime thing. Kickoffs are different as well.
But what about basketball? Games are of different length, players have different numbers of fouls before disqualification, and the number of time-outs per game is different.
Baseball? College baseball uses aluminum/titanium/stealth bomber material bats, and yet, the pros only use wood bats. So different rules for different levels.
And yet golf, which by every account would like to see the game grow, has its governing bodies trying to force amateurs and casual players to play under the same rules as professionals. Most of the casual golfers I know are honorable people who play by the rules, but like everyone we have our “circle of trust/friendship” for conceded putts and during early season rounds we’ll play “winter rules” or roll it over in the fairway if it’s in a divot.
I don’t use a long putter (tried one once and hated it)…I’m fully capable of missing putts with my conventional 35-inch model…but if you (or anyone else) wants to use a long putter…have at it.
The dichotomy goes further in golf…the PGA of America has correctly pushed a “tee it forward” in order to have faster rounds. If we followed the consistency based on the governing bodies we’d all play from the same set of tees. I’ve had the pleasure of teeing it up at two courses used by the PGA Tour. I’ve seen the tee boxes they use, and no thank you. A 502 yard hole is a par 5 for me. If Messrs Mickelson, Watson, Woods, etc. play that as a par 4 then good on them.
So yes, any events conducted by the R&A or USGA ban anchoring. The PGA Tour should probably go that route as well along with the European Tour and LPGA Tour. Casual golfers could then decide for themselves. There are enough serious golfers who’d want to play using a conventional putter as they have designs on amateur championships. But for a bunch of my fellow 10-handicappers…let them choose for themselves. The game is hard enough as it is. In the end, we play because we enjoy it. It’s not our job (it’s what I do to escape from the stresses of my job).