GOLF’S governing bodies have as expected moved to ban the anchoring of belly-length and long putters in making a putting stroke.
The R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA) announced today (Thursday) that while the clubs themselves would remain as conforming clubs certain actions with them would be prohibited.
To allow for a transitional period, the new rule will take effect on January 1, 2016.
The proposed Rule 14-1b, which follows an extensive review by The R&A and the USGA, would prohibit strokes made with the club or a hand gripping the club held directly against the player’s body, or with a forearm held against the body to establish an anchor point that indirectly anchors the club.
The proposed new Rule would not alter current equipment rules and would allow the continued use of all conforming golf clubs, including belly-length and long putters, provided such clubs are not anchored during a stroke. The proposed Rule narrowly targets only a few types of strokes, while preserving a golfer’s ability to play a wide variety of strokes in his or her individual style.
Prior to taking a final decision on the proposed Rule, The R&A and the USGA will consider any further comments and suggestions from throughout the golf community.
“We believe we have considered this issue from every angle but given the wide ranging interest in this subject we would like to give stakeholders in the game the opportunity to put forward any new matters for consideration,” said Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A.
The organisations said the 2016 compliance date would provide “an extended period in which golfers may, if necessary, adapt their method of stroke to the requirements of the Rule.”
New rule “will define and preserve the nature” of the golf stroke
“Throughout the 600-year history of golf, the essence of playing the game has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “The player’s challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge. Our conclusion is that the Rules of Golf should be amended to preserve the traditional character of the golf swing by eliminating the growing practice of anchoring the club.”
Moves to act on long putters intensified last year when Keegan Bradley became the first player to win a major with a belly putter at the PGA Championship. This year, Webb Simpson won the U.S. Open and Ernie Els won the British Open using belly putters. That’s three of the last five Major winners using them.
High profile Australian golfers Adam Scott and Peter Senior are just two of the many current golfers who will be affected. Both have previously been critical of the proposal.
Switching to a broomstick putter has seemingly transformed Scott career and he now sits at number five in the world.
At his recent media conference at the Australian Masters at Kingston Heath Scott foreshadowed the golf bodies may not ban the putters themselves but just the act of anchoring them.
Scott suggested if that was the case – as it had turned out – he would probably continue to use the long putter and just adjust his action.