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By Dennis George
Back in the late summer of 1970, Lebanon Enterprise editor George Trotter asked a young high school student to cover athletics at Marion County High School, which would soon open its doors for the first time.
That was my first foray into journalism and one of my first jobs. For two years I covered sports and wrote a weekly column titled, “The Way I See It.”
A decade later, when the talented Gene Abell left his position as sports editor of this paper to become a writer for The Cats Pause, I returned to cover sports and write a weekly column for editor Steve Lowery.
Well, things have now come full circle.
Steve’s daughter Stevie is now the editor and I’m back writing a column for the paper.
For the next few months, I will be writing about golf. You’ll get my thoughts on issues facing the game, reviews of area courses, and a potpourri of things. I’ll do my best to keep up with results of golf leagues, who hit a hole in one, and local players who do well in out of town of events.
If you have golf news to report, such as scrambles, feel free to email me.
Let’s tee it up.
The recent decision by the USGA and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club to prohibit the anchoring of putters will have the most noticeable effect on the enjoyment of the game of golf than any rule enacted in my memory.
I must confess here that I am not a good putter. There’s a reason that my license plate reads I3PUTT. I don’t use the long putter. Several years ago when I tried it a few times with no success, my good friend Tommy Hurst of Bardstown said, “Throw that !@#$%^* thing away.” But I have many friends who use both belly and long putters anchored to their bodies.
The new Rule 14-1b will not pry the long putters or belly putters from hands of desperate yippers. They can still use these putters, they simply can’t anchor the end of the putter against their bodies and create a pendulum that reduces some of the shakiness of the hands. While there is no data suggesting such a stroke provides an advantage, there’s no doubt that the recent success in major tournaments by players using such putters forced action on the part of golf’s governing bodies.
Putters have been anchored for years in compliance with the rules but not as much on the European tour as in America. Undoubtedly, the R&A went into defense mode when Ernie Els won the 2012 British Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes with a putter against his belly and long putter aficionado Adam Scott finished second.
The ruling in effect is telling thousands of golfers that a stroke they have mastered over decades is no longer allowed. Recent major winner Keegan Bradley is one of among many young golfers who grew up using anchored putter methods.
Why now? Why after decades of being legal is it suddenly illegal?
Let’s look at how long players have used these putters and nothing was done (courtesy of The Golf Channel)
1983: Battling the yips and bad knees, Champions Tour player Charlie Owens begins using a 51-inch putter that he anchored to his sternum. He won twice in 1986 using the putter, which he called “Slim Jim.”
1989: After nearly two months of debate, the USGA and R&A announce that the long putter will continue to be permitted under the Rule of Golf. At the time USGA executive director David Fay said, “Putting is a very individualized art form. To inhibit a golfer’s individual style would take some of the fun out of the game.”
1991: Rocco Mediate wins the Doral Open, becoming the first player to win a PGA tour event using a putter anchored to his sternum.
2000: Paul Azinger wins his first tournament in six years when he used a belly putter to win the Sony Open.
2011: USGA executive Director Mike Davis said, “We don’t see this as a major trend. We don’t see this as something that is really detrimental to the game.
Later in 2011: Davis said, “To date, there’s no evidence they are giving anybody an undue an undue advantage.”
The USGA and R&A dictate the rules of golf but that does not mean the PGA Tour will follow the rule. At least two PGA professionals have told me that they may allow the anchoring of putters in their local tournaments.
Let the debates continue.
Brown wins two tournaments
Amy Brown of Lebanon has gotten off to a hot start in the 2013 Mussellman-Dunne Golf Tour. She came from nine shots back after the first round to win at Stone Crest Golf Course in Prestonsburg on May 19. The 2012 MCHS graduate and Lindsey Wilson player also captured the title at Seneca Golf Course in Louisville during Memorial Day weekend.
Rosewood Golf Club in Lebanon is hosting a two day medal play flighted tournament June 22-23. The entry fee is $165 and includes a practice round, gift bag, and dinner and the two days of the tournament. Golfers will compete for a set of Titleist AP-1 irons (1st), TaylorMade RBZ Driver (2nd) and Callaway XXT cart bag.
For more information or to sign up to play, call Rosewood Golf Course at (270) 692-0506 or Louis Carrico at (270) 699-1631
Editor’s note: Dennis George can reached at email@example.com.