Phil’s Insider-Trading Escape
USGA backs Langer, McCarron as they defend themselves against critics who say they’re violating the anchor ban
Amid continued accusations that they are trying to thwart the ban on the anchored stroke that the USGA and R&A put in place in 2016, Bernhard Langer and Scott McCarron came out jointly on Friday with statements professing that they aren’t breaking the new rule and insisting they would not purposely do such a thing.
“I’m certain that I am not anchoring the putter and that my putting stroke is not violating the Rules of Golf,” said Langer, who is having another outstanding year on the senior circuit, having won the first two PGA Tour Champions majors of 2017. “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 have worked with the USGA and PGA Tour Champions rules officials to ensure that I am within the Rules of Golf,” McCarron said, “and I have extended many invitations to demonstrate and teach people how to use a long putter without anchoring.”
More interestingly, the USGA joined Langer and McCarron with a comment of its own in their statement. Indeed, the association provide the two some cover in specifying that it has “seen no evidence of a player breaching the Rule.” The USGA also attempting to clarify the notion that simply touching a piece of one’s clothing does not mean a player is in violation of the Rule.
Langer and McCarron have faced harsh scrutiny in recent weeks, culminating last weekend at the U.S. Senior Open, where an open discussion of their putting techniques during Fox’s coverage of the championship at Massachusetts’ Salem Country Club. The debate spilled over into social media, with Golf Channel commentator Brandel Chamblee among the louder voices wondering if not technically in violation of the rule, whether Langer and McCarron broke the spirit of it.
The implied message that they would purposely be breaking the Rule has both Langer and McCarron particularly upset as both men.
“During my 45-year career as a professional golfer, I have called penalties on myself,” Langer said. “I believe in honesty and integrity, and I could not live with myself if I broke a rule and did not incur the penalty.”
Said McCarron: “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.”
When the whole world disagrees with you, you’re probably wrong. Bernhard Langer, you are anchoring your left forearm against your chest and you know it. – The Head Fanatic
Brandel Chamblee talks truth with anchoring ban tirade
The USGA’s so-called “anchoring ban,” Rule 14-1b, has been in effect since January 1, 2016. In some sense, then, it’s interesting to see the controversial bit of legislation as a hot topic of discussion in the summer of 2017.
Nevertheless, with the prominent example of PGA Tour Champions dynamo, Bernhard Langer, pushing permissibility to its absolute extreme with his putting stroke, the matter merits further discussion.
Enter Brandel Chamblee, a man whose middle name might as well be “further discussion.”
Chamblee involved himself in a Twitter debate about the legality of Langer’s putting stroke and has followed up at length with additional thoughts in a piece for Golf Channel’s website.
And since the matter of Rule 14-1b remains a topic of conversation, it’s worth looking at what this prominent voice voiced, as it were.
Chamblee’s essential contention is that by inserting the word “intent” in the text of the rule, players (ahem, Bernhard Langer) have a loophole to essentially anchor their putters as long as they claim they didn’t intend to.
No one would doubt Langer anchors as much of his forearm as he can against his chest and keeps the butt end of his long putter as close to his chest as possible. However, as millimeters of space remains between the grip and Langer’s chest and he doesn’t “intend” to anchor the putter (even if it occasionally touches his chest or shirt), he’s in the clear, per the USGA.
“INTENT IS THE GET-OUT-OF-JAIL-FREE CARD FOR BOTH THE PLAYER AND THOSE WHO ARE MEANT TO POLICE THE PLAYER,” CHAMBLEE WRITES.
Interestingly, Langer’s real “intent” would seem to be to get as close to possible to anchoring without technically violating the rule. And if he crosses the line, well, he didn’t intend to, so… (collective shrug emoji).
This doesn’t sit well with Chamblee, who is troubled by the USGA’s abdication of adjudication on the matter and Langer’s lack of concern for placing himself beyond reproach, an essential element of the spirit of the game and the Rules of Golf, in Chamblee’s mind.
“Sports is about entertainment, but at its best it also communicates values…Which is why I cannot believe what I am seeing on PGA Tour Champions, with regard to the putting strokes of Bernhard Langer and Scott McCarron.”
So, what to do? Well, first we have to agree collectively whether we expect our professional golfers to strive to place themselves beyond reproach, well removed from any hint of suspicion, or whether we are comfortable with those inside the ropes pushing the rules to their legal limit, playing golf under clouds of suspicion.
If we’re not comfortable, Chamblee is again write in suggesting this rewrite of Rule 14-1b if the benefits of “anchoring” are truly what golf’s governing body wants to stamp out:
“The rule should be rewritten to state that there must be a clear separation between the club, the gripping hand and all parts of the forearm, from the body. That in the case of any part of the club, the gripping hand or the forearm brushing against one’s shirt in the course of the stroke, it will be reviewed by the committee, for the randomness of its nature and for the potential benefit of the contact.”
Whether it is caddies who line up their players on full shots and putts, or golfers who say it is not their intent to anchor (Bahahahaha!!), traditionalists are fed up with those who play fast and loose with the Rules of Golf. – The Head Fanatic
Here’s a great column by Brandel Chamblee…
‘Intent’ the anchoring get-out-of-jail-free card
“Both Langer and McCarron not only maintain that they have no intent to anchor, they maintain that they are not anchoring. Both of those claims may very well be true, but anyone who has watched either one of them putt and then zoomed in to the point where, as the USGA’s Davis suggested, there is meant to be some separation between the top grip hand and the body, knows that in most instances that space is hard, if impossible to find.”
“I find it mildly amusing that Bernhard Langer is one of those in professional golf who enjoys promoting his Christianity.” – The Head Fanatic
Hank Haney takes to Twitter to question legality of Bernhard Langer’s putting style
Watch for yourself as Langer anchors his forearm against his chest…
Chamblee doubles down on anchoring issue: “What they’re doing is not above reproach”
Click HERE for Brandel’s comments.
And here’s more evidence…
Click HERE for the video proof that Langer is anchoring…this time anchoring his hand against his chest in direct violation of the Rules of Golf.
Langer knows he’s cheating and, frankly, he has always played fast and loose with the rules. Bernhard Langer may be the only Masters Champion who was nearly booted from the tournament one year for violating their practice rounds rules of hitting only one ball to the green. He was warned once and kept doing it. When warned a second time later in the same round he was told that if he did it again he would be removed from the premises.
Truth be known, Bernhard Langer believes the Rules of Golf are for everyone else. He and anyone else playing fast and loose with the anchoring ban needs to penalized until it stops and disqualified if it doesn’t. The game is much bigger than any one man.
Frankly, the anchoring rule needs to be changed to ban long putters. It is not golf and everyone knows it.