Former touring pro Phil Jonas says the average player shouldn't be forced to use regular, rather than anchored putters.
Photograph by: Les Bazso, Postmedia News Files, Vancouver Sun
VANCOUVER - In the words of Royal Colwood Golf Club director of golf Jason Giesbrecht, "they have killed a mosquito with a hammer here."
Giesbrecht and some other B.C. pros think the United States Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club may drive players from the game with a proposed rule change that would ban the use of anchored putters beginning in 2016.
The rule change, quickly endorsed Wednesday by Golf Canada, comes at a time when private clubs are starved for new members and public courses are discounting green fees to fill their tee sheets.
"The trickle-down effect is you have members in their 60s and 70s and they have shaky hands and they use it to play golf with their buddies and all of a sudden they can't keep a handicap because they are using that method of stroke," Giesbrecht said. "We are not in a position in the golf business to be pushing people away for the sake of puritans.
"I don't know of any club, save maybe Capilano, right now that has a wait list. And public golf is being discounted big time."
Giesbrecht said off the top of his head he could think of 25 or 30 members who use anchored putters at his Victoria club.
"Like many private clubs our average member age is in their 60s, so with that demographic it's quite common," he said. "It's like the PGA Tour versus the Senior Tour. You see more people with long putters than you do on the regular tour. It's just as you get older your nerves aren't quite what they are when you are younger."
Giesbrecht has about a dozen long putters for sale in his pro shop -- ranging in price from about $90 to $350 -- and they were all put on sale Wednesday for 60 per cent off.
"I've got a couple of years to sell them," he said. "We'll do our best. I am actually most concerned about my members, who may quit the game if they can't play without a long putter."
Vancouver Golf Tour commissioner Fraser Mulholland supports the rule change, which comes after three of the past five major championships have been won by players using anchored putters.
He doesn't accept the argument that the change could chase players from the game.
"Why is it that you have to anchor the putter to enjoy the game," Mulholland said.
Phil Jonas, a former touring pro who was recently named the PGA of B.C.'s teacher of the year, has mixed feelings about the rule change.
"I agree with it, but I don't think your average player should have to adhere to it," said Jonas, who teaches out of Hazelmere and McCleery. "I think the average player should be able to do whatever he or she wants.
"I try to promote golf as a game that you can play for a long time and any rule that could hurt that I worry about. But i think people will get used it. They will find other ways. There will be people using the side-saddle (style) or something like that."
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Merritt's Roger Sloan recovered nicely from two early bogeys and opened the final stage of PGA Tour qualifying school in La Quinta, Calif., with a one-under 71 Wednesday that left him tied for 82nd spot in the 172-man field.
Sloan's round was the best of the seven Canadians competing. Abbotsford's Adam Hadwin, hurt by two double-bogeys, shot a two-over 74 and was tied for 150th.
The top 25 and ties after Monday's final round of the 108-hole event earn their 2013 PGA Tour cards. The rest of the field will receive some status on the Web.com Tour. It took a score of four-under or better to be inside the top 25 on Wednesday.
SLOW STARTS: The three B.C. women competing at the final stage of the LPGA Tour Q school in Daytona Beach, Fla., did not get off to good starts in Wednesday's first round of the 90-hole event.
Langley's Sue Kim and Samantha Richdale of Kelowna both shot four-over 76s that left them tied for 79th, while Kirby Dreher of Fort St. John opened with a 78 and is tied for 106th. The top 20 players earn full status on next year's LPGA Tour.
FINAL FOUR: Abbotsford's James Lepp had to survive an elimination challenge, but has moved on to the final four of Golf Channel's Big Break Greenbrier series.
Lepp birdied two of the three holes in his elimination match to knock out Brian Cooper of Phoenix. The series airs every Tuesday at 6 p.m.
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