Polara Golf, the leader in game improvement equipment for the recreational golfer, issued its official statement today on the USGA’s decision to enact the rules change proposed back in November that has split the golf world: Starting Jan. 1, 2016, players competing under USGA/R&A rules will no longer be allowed to affix or "anchor" the putter to their bodies. Rule 14-1b will prohibit most players from using the increasingly popular belly and broomstick model putters.
Although we do not agree with the USGA’s ban on anchoring, we do respect the USGA’s right to make and amend their rules, which apply to USGA sanctioned tournaments and the professional tours. But the fact is their rules and their adopted ban on anchoring only apply to about 15-20% of the golfers. That’s the number of golfers that either keep a USGA handicap or play in USGA sanctioned tournaments.
The vast majorities of golfers don’t follow the USGA’s rules and simply play for fun and recreation. These recreational golfers either don’t know about the ban, don’t care about it or simply disagree with it. To even imply that this ban on anchoring would apply to recreational golfers is a case of the USGA overstepping their governing authority. The USGA does not rule all of golf, they only rule USGA sanctioned tournament golf and the small fraction of golfers that choose to play by the USGA rules during normal rounds, but this is a small fraction of golfers.
In December 2012 a Google Consumer Survey of 6,800 internet respondents found:
• 78% of golfers play for fun and 22% play according to the USGA rules
• 61% of respondents said they sometimes take mulligans, gimme putts and other popular infractions such as using a "foot wedge."
• 63% of golfers said they would consider using golf equipment that was banned from professional play.
• 72% of golfers said they have never read the USGA Rules
With rounds of golf played per year declining because golf takes too much time, costs too much and is too frustrating, we at Polara Golf are focusing on making the game more fun by creating balls and clubs that enable golfers to hit the ball significantly straighter and farther. The means faster rounds, fewer lost balls, and lower frustration. Our products are so technically superior they are not allowed in USGA sanctioned tournaments, but they are perfectly fine for recreational golf.
In April 2013, Polara Golf commissioned a Google Consumer Survey of 18,000 internet respondents; 1,000 of which were golfers with a USGA handicap that were asked what they thought of the anchoring ban.
Here are the results:
35% - I don’t care.
25% - I agree with the proposed ban.
23% - I didn’t know there was a proposed ban.
17% - I disagree with the proposed ban.
That means that only 25% of their members agreed with the USGA’s decision to ban anchoring. It looks to me like the USGA is out of touch with what its members want.
Polara then went a step further and surveyed another 1,000 golfers (not narrowed to just those with a USGA handicap) about their opinion on anchoring and the results were as follows:
31% - I golf for fun so it doesn’t matter
20% - I didn’t know there was a proposed ban.
20% - I agree with the proposed ban.
16% - I don’t care what the USGA does.
13% - I don’t agree with the proposed ban.
When we surveyed the general golf population, made up of roughly 75-80% recreational golfers, the support for the USGA ban on anchoring was even lower. Only 20% of them agreed with the anchoring ban. The 24 million golfers in the US are a large and diverse group; so diverse that the USGA cannot hope to appeal to and support all of their varied interests.
Recreational golfers represent about 18M golfers in the USA. These are the golfers who just want to play golf for fun. They don’t follow the USGA Rules, and most have never even seen a USGA Rule handbook, but they represent the largest part of our golfing community. The USGA has an opportunity to clarify its role in golf and to actually help grow the number of golfers in the US by simply clarifying its position and making it perfectly clear that their ban on anchoring was never meant to apply to the golfers who simply golf for fun.