Boston golfer James Driscoll was a latecomer to the belly putter, and like most converts, he’s rather zealous about his new-found faith.
Driscoll put a big bat in his bag in 2012 and -- despite Tuesday's announcement by golf’s governing boards that his flat stick will be illegal in under three years -- the Boston golfer has no plans to yank it out any time soon.
“I plan on using the belly putter until the day it is banned,” Driscoll told us via e-mail soon after the USGA and R&A announced that affixing a club to any part of a golfer’s body would soon be verboten. “I will continue to practice with the short putter over the next two years so it’s not a major adjustment in 2016.”
Driscoll, like most observers with a stake in the outcome, expected golf’s overlords to mandate the rule change, which is slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2016.
“I'm not surprised,” Driscoll said. “I kind of saw it coming when the PGA Tour was essentially the only major golf organization (along with the PGA of America) that was for keeping the anchored putter around.”
Unless the tour does an about-face on its February pledge to opposed a ban on anchoring, Driscoll and his belly putter brethren -- including Vermont native Keegan Bradley, the first player to win a major with the tool -- may be able to keep anchoring in events not run by the USGA and R&A. The PGA Tour responded to the overseers’ anchoring declaration by taking a wait-and-see approach.
“We will now begin our process to ascertain whether the various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions and, if so, examine the process for implementation,” the tour said in a statement on Tuesday.
As for the mechanism he decried back in 2011 as decidedly uncool, and one that offered users a competitive advantage, Driscoll put his long stick to good use recently when he undertook a “Birdies for Boston” campaign to help victims and families of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing. Driscoll pledged to contribute $1,000 to the OneFundBoston for each birdie he canned in back-to-back PGA Tour events -- last month’s RBC Heritage and at the Zurich Classic.
The pride of Charles River Country Club in Newton, Mass., made nine at the Heritage and six at the Zurich, which added $15,000 to the coffers of the marathon philanthropy.