Tim Clarke: It’s a different way of putting. It shouldn’t be illegal

2013-03-09 00:00

TIM Clark stated his case against the proposed ban on anchored strokes, saying he was frustrated by the lack of evidence from golf’s governing bodies that using a long putter provides an advantage.

Clark has used a long putter that he anchors to his chest since he was in college. He became a key figure in the debate for his elegant speech at a PGA Tour meeting that helped shape the opinion of several players.

A month later, commissioner Tim Finchem said the PGA Tour was not in favour of the proposed rule.

“What we have here is a different method of putting,” Clark said. “It’s not wrong. It’s not against the values of the game. It’s still a stroke. People who come out and say, ‘It’s not a stroke, you don’t get nervous,’ I can’t believe that.

“I’ve been using it for 15 years.

“I get nervous. I miss putts under pressure. Putting essentially will always come down to 99% brain and mindset and confidence.

“If I felt I was cheating, I wouldn’t be using it.”

The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient (R&A) Golf Club proposed the ban on November 28 and then provided a 90-day comment period because it was such a polarising issue.

Of the major golf organisations around the world, the PGA Tour and PGA of America are the only groups who have spoken out against the ban, which would not take effect until 2016.

The governing bodies felt an anchored stroke took too much skill out of the game. Its goal was to define the golf stroke as the club moving freely through the entire swing.

They conceded in November there were no empirical data, only a recent spike in more players using long putters.

Clark, whose five wins worldwide includes The Players Championship in 2010, flew to Torrey Pines for the meeting even though he wasn’t in the tournament.

“We’ve taken it upon ourselves to find a better method and a better way to putt for us, and we’ve found that,” Clark said.

“It shouldn’t be illegal. It’s just a different way to putt. How can anything be an advantage that everyone can use and everyone can try?”

He said his biggest complaint was that anchored putting has been around for about 40 years and the governing bodies didn’t say anything about them until three of the last five Major champions won with a belly putter.

Adam Scott, who began using a long putter two years ago and twice came close to winning Majors, said the USGA and R&A had not considered the hours of practice that goes into using such a stroke.

“What did they think when they allowed it?” the Australian said.

“You’re dealing with professional athletes who are competitive.

“What do they think when they’ve got super talented golfers putting in thousands of hours of practice?

“It was just a matter of time. They’re going to get good.”

The USGA and R&A are expected to decide in the spring whether to adopt the proposed rule against anchoring. Clark remains optimistic that the rule will not be adopted.

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