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Why we botched the anchored putter ban, and what we can do about it



Now let me start by saying this: I use a traditional putter and so, to a degree, I don’t really have a dog in the anchored-putter fight.

On top of that, I love and respect the USGA and the R&A for all they do to preserve and protect the integrity of the game, as well as to grow it. We need governing bodies in golf, and we need the governing bodies to continue to work together as they do or the rules by which it is played all over the world will become fractured and subject to potentially dubious influence. The rules, as they stand, are confusing and voluminous enough without having a different set by which to play, depending upon where in the world you are.

That being said, the ruling bodies collectively botched this one. With two years to come up with a suitable interpretation for their intention, and what they believed would serve to protect the spirit of the game, it would seem in this case they suffered from nothing more than that age-old golfer’s infliction: paralysis from analysis. So before I get to my solution, let me first start with the reasons why I believe what the ruling bodies came up with for the anchored putter ban was wrong, why it has the potential to hurt the game, and why it comes at the worst possible time.

It’s not an unfair advantage

Anchored putters have been around for a long, long time, and while belly-putters are the newer kid on the block, Phil Rogers first used one in competition in the 1960s. I could give you all the brain science to back it up, but the fact is, if anchored putters were really such a huge advantage they would have been adopted en masse a long time ago by all the players on the various tours. They play golf for a living; it’s how they pay their mortgages and trust me, their often king-size egos aren’t so big that the majority of them wouldn’t adopt a new piece of allowable equipment if it really gave them an advantage. You don’t see hordes of touring professionals clinging to their persimmons and steel-shafted drivers out of tradition. When it became clear that metal, graphite, and titanium were obviously better options, they dropped that old stuff like a bad habit.


While the USGA and R&A govern golf, they’re not involved in the day-to-day operations, and their interpretation of this new rule has set us who do up for endless disputes — like the controversy over what Bernhard Langer did while winning his first tournament after the anchor ban. Unlike Adam Scott, many who use anchored putters won’t abandon them altogether, and trying to determine whether or not a player’s forearm is actually touching his body or not, especially in cold weather where players are wearing bulky jackets and many layers, is pretty much impossible and unenforceable.

Since Jan. 1, I’ve had to get in the middle of more disputes between members than I have in 25 years, and every one has been about whether or not a certain player was anchoring.

A major fix to a minor problem

When golf’s governing bodies made the decision to ban anchored putting, a big part of the discussion had to do with their concern over the rise in popularity of belly putters and their increased use among tour players and younger players. The problem is that segment of golf’s participants comprises less than 1 percent of those who play the game.

Most players who used anchored putters were just the regular Joes trying desperately to find something that would help them get through a putting slump or a case of the yips. If golf’s governing bodies really wanted to stem the supposed tide of adoption without hurting the regular guy or gal, they could have just worked with the PGA Tour to adopt a policy restricting their use in major competition.

Just about every young amateur that has any game at all dreams of playing in the big show, and kids emulate their idols. You should have seen the near perfect cross-handed impression of Jordan Spieth I witnessed from a 10-year-old at an event recently, but I digress.

You’re not going to see kids adopting things that won’t be allowable once they do qualify to play in a big event some day, and if the Tour players weren’t using them, it wouldn’t be long before anchored putters would be seen by the next generation as an old-man’s club that no decent player would be caught dead with.

Discrimination and abuse

Success after the broomstick? Adam Scott is proving it's possible, but can average golfers find the same success?

Success after the broomstick? Adam Scott is proving it’s possible, but can average golfers find the same success?

If you’ve read the text of the new rule or have seen the posters the USGA spent considerable expense putting out, one thing becomes immediately apparent. Despite all they hysteria over belly-putting, the new rule likely impacts golfers who used long putters, or the broomstick-style of putting the most.

Anchoring your forearms against your body is OK if you’re putting traditionally, but it’s not if your putter is longer and/or you’re using a split-hand grip with the top hand inverted? I guess the USGA figured out pretty quickly that certain body types (read big bellies) wouldn’t be able to putt even in a traditional manner if they just said your forearms can’t touch your body, so they came up with an interpretation that would leave those guys alone while still attempting to eliminate any similar stabilizing ability for those with a longer wand.

The way the rule is written, it’s OK for me to anchor my forearms against my sides (read: belly) as long as I don’t invert the top one and or split the hands. But if I essentially do the same thing with my top hand hanging down, as long as the hands at least touch each other (read: aren’t split) I’m good? According to the rules I am, but if you’re confused by now without the aid of all the fancy infographics that the USGA has provided us then you get my point.


Golf’s highly publicized drop in participation over the past half-dozen years is nothing to sneeze at. And at a time when we need to be doing most everything we can to not only attract new players, but retain the players we have, we don’t need to be doing anything that turns off many avid players to playing or playing more. And I’m sure the level of discouragement I’ve seen among a handful of players at my own club is going on simultaneously around the country and the world.

When the Mayo Clinic studied the yips a few years back, they did one survey whose results claimed that upward of 25 percent of the people who gave up golf did so because of the yips. An estimated 10-15 percent of players used some form of a long or anchored putter to help them play this great game before the ban. Now I don’t think all of those golfers are going to just up and quit. Many will grumble, adjust, and move on to some other putting method that allows them to putt just poorly enough to stay in the game at some level, but is that really what we want? Do we want to make the game less enjoyable for people who already love it, and at the same time run the risk of taking the fun out of it for a small percentage so much so that they consider giving it up?

A Fix

So now that I’ve told you essentially why I believe this crusade against the unconventional among us is more than just a bit wrong-headed, let me tell you what we could and should have done instead, and how we can walk it back a bit.

In my heart of hearts, I agree with the sentiment behind what the USGA and R&A were trying to do. I’m a traditionalist and want to see the game’s great traditions preserved and respected. But long and belly putters have been around for a long time now, so I think at this point they almost qualify. If we are really hard set on banning anchoring, not the length of our putters, I get that. It would have been much simpler, fairer, easier to enforce, and would have created far less confusion, however, if Rule 14-1b simply said:

No part of the club may touch any part of the body other than the hands, and the hands are considered to be part of the club.

That’s it.

With that change, all this anchoring stuff would have been a moot point. It would have left Langer and most of his broomstick brethren alone, but would have essentially eliminated most forms of anchoring (like the scary belly-putter phenomenon) in a way that would have been far easier to enforce and interpret.

How can we walk it back? That one’s easy, and while the USGA and R&A may have a bit of egg on their face in the short term, a statement about the difficulty of enforcement of the rule under how it’s currently written would satisfy most players and allow them to save face while creating an enormous amount of goodwill among a segment of players that they have at this point alienated.

Everyone makes mistakes, but ultimately, the people we most respect own up, learn, and grow from those mistakes. And what we should learn from this one is that, despite the best of intentions, this wasn’t the best move we could have made and it certainly didn’t come at the best time.

I’d love to hear what you think.

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Mike Dowd is the author of Lessons from the Golf Guru: Wit, Wisdom, Mind-Tricks & Mysticism for Golf and Life. He has been Head PGA Professional at Oakdale Golf & CC in Oakdale, California since 2001, and is serving his third term on the NCPGA Board of Directors and Chairs the Growth of the Game Committee. Mike has introduced thousands of people to the game and has coached players that have played golf collegiately at the University of Hawaii, San Francisco, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, University of the Pacific, C.S.U. Sacramento, C.S.U. Stanislaus, C.S.U. Chico, and Missouri Valley State, as men and women on the professional tours. Mike currently lives in Turlock, California with his wife and their two aspiring LPGA stars, where he serves on the Turlock Community Theatre Board, is the past Chairman of the Parks & Recreation Commission and is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Turlock. In his spare time (what's that?) he enjoys playing golf with his girls, writing, music, fishing and following the foibles of the Sacramento Kings, the San Francisco 49ers, the San Francisco Giants, and, of course, the PGA Tour. You can find Mike at

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  1. ALF

    Oct 30, 2017 at 2:06 am

    I will not watch Champions Golf until these cheaters are forced to change their ways. Thanks. I needed to vent. The “ruling bodies “ have ceased to rule.

  2. Felchone

    Oct 29, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    Golf’s hard and if long putters or anchoring make it more enjoyable for some than whats the issue? Offset drivers, super gi irons, perimeter weighting, adjustable jumbo drivers, hybrids, speedfoam, jailbreak, juiced balls, graphite shafts, super grooves, blah, blah, blah, blah. Every one of these things exists to make the game easier for the user, and we all have at least some of them in our bags. Play the game against yourself and the course the way you’re supposed to, and lets not be blind to our own hypocrisy.

  3. Steve

    Oct 27, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    One of the main reasons we are still revisiting this issue is because of B Langer — whose reputation and likeability are sacred. Scotty McC should be donating a portion of his winnings to Langer, cuz if McCarron were the lone ranger on this, he would likely have been DQ’d and fighting this in court. With Langer, he has a shield and immunity for the foreseeable future.

  4. Felipe Aspillaga

    Oct 27, 2017 at 8:48 am

    If you think little Tommy Morrison (and others with super-human abilities) is an incredible inspiration and is great for the game of golf, although your rule suggestion is simple, it would render his swing “illegal”…and a travesty.

  5. Jacked_Loft

    Oct 27, 2017 at 5:05 am

    The USGA and the R&A are simply archaic in thier thoght processes. Imagine where the high jump would be today if the “Fosbery Flop” had been deemed non-conforming.

    • 097

      Oct 27, 2017 at 10:49 am

      The Olympics is archaic. Imagine if we didn’t have the Olympics. We would be in far more peaceful world without ugly competition, and drug, HGH and Roid-free.

  6. Old Gaffer

    Oct 27, 2017 at 1:38 am

    Everybody is an expert on politics, religion, sports, sex … and long putters 😉

  7. Tour Grinder

    Oct 26, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Tom Watson has spoken numerous times on this very subject…very intelligently and very convincingly. Yet, because he’s over 60 and pushing 70, fewer and fewer people want to listen to him. Watson’s putting went south years ago due to y*ps, especially short putting, but he never went to any longer putters or anchored putting because he didn’t believe it was right or proper. He’s not a stick in the mud or someone who tests a hypothesis by using his wife’s clubs; he’s just a Hall of Famer who knows what he’s talking about. Idea for next article: get Watson interviewed and with quotes. All the people who seem to believe it doesn’t matter, or doesn’t establish an unfair advantage would fade into the woodwork.

    • JJVas

      Oct 27, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      Nah, we’ll just pass on his reactionary views quicker than the entire Ryder Cup crew did. How did that end up working out? If he wasn’t so archaic in his thinking, maybe he would have won a major after my 8th birthday.

    • 2putttom

      Oct 28, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      there are arguments for and against the use of the “long putters” on tour. If it has a distinct advantage for a player in competition the more of the pro’s would have used them.

      • Tour Grinder

        Oct 29, 2017 at 10:44 am

        This is why they should mandate college classes in philosophic logic. Nobody wants to think or reason logically anymore. The longer putters and anchored putters are NOT a DISTINCT advantage for EVERY golfer. Nobody ever said or claimed that. They are only a DISTINCT advantage for those golfers who can no longer putt with reasonable nerves, without flinching and yipping. In other words, these are nothing but crutches for those who can no longer function successfully with anything else. Yes, if these implements had been a distinct advantage for EVERY golfer, then yes, every golfer would be using them. Nobody’s ever said that. If Brad Faxon could putt better with a long or anchored putter, he would have done so years ago. But his methods and techniques and putter length are ideal for him, personally. However, anchored putters were indeed an advantage for the golfers who NEEDED them and appreciated them being a DISTINCT advantage. I can no longer hit a bullet-straight drive 300+ yards down the middle of the fairway anymore. Should I be allowed some kind of new or “non-archaic” club or implement to allow me to hit a drive automatically straight down the middle 300 yards? If I invented one, would that automatically make me a “with it” golfer of today?

  8. M. Vegas

    Oct 26, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    I don’t think a player should be allowed to tap the ball in with the back of his/her putter….
    That’s not the intended use, 2 stroke penalty

    • Anthony

      Nov 2, 2017 at 7:31 pm

      Well that’s a silly comment, what about the good old Bullseye double sided putter? that’s ancient and still allowed? As long as you make a stroke at the ball, putt it in with ya bloody hybrid or wedge….

  9. RG

    Oct 26, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    If long putters or anchoring was an advantage,or made one a better putter I would do it. I do not. That argument is ridiculous. It’s just like box grooves, they do not make you a better player. Has ANYTHING happened to scoring since these two things have been banned? NO! The USGA and R7A simply need justification for their existence so every few years they make up some new rule or eliminate some old rule. None of it matters.
    I recently did an experiment. I played a whole round of golf using my fiancee’s clubs. Pink shafted generic set. Used only the worst balls I could find out of my shag bag. shot 78 from 6800 at Harmony. It doesnt matter guys. I didnt like the feel. I hated the look, but I hit it straight, I got uo and down and I made putts, WITH HER PUTTER! If you have a swing you can whitle a tree branch and hit a ball. If you can putt, you can putt. If you cant anchoring or square grooves aint gonna help ya.

  10. Jim

    Oct 26, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Your solution sounds good, but where does it leave Pro golfers like Matt Kucher and Wes Simpson?? They anchor to the left forearm.

  11. alanp

    Oct 26, 2017 at 7:23 am

    did the author just wake up from a time capsule?

  12. Jeffrey

    Oct 26, 2017 at 3:49 am

    Get the ball in the hole anyway you want with what ever you want. Sounds like fun to me.

    • Rulez

      Oct 26, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Aaaaaah and there’s the rub. They should ban the use of any club except the putter on the greens in the modern game, but allow for spike marks to be fixed. That’s more important. No more belly wedges, no more hybrids on the greens, etc.

  13. Steve

    Oct 26, 2017 at 1:17 am

    If your not going to outlaw a long putter then why in world would you outlaw how some one uses it?? Did they outlaw players for the way they swing a golf club because Jim Furyk sure makes a lot of money with the way he found to use golf clubs…John Daly has become a folk legend over swinging his clubs and isn’t that a miss use of a club and a huge advantage for him (in the past). How about a right handed guy playing left handed? Is there a rule a player cannot be in motion while making a stroke, can a player place the ball two feet behind his back foot and hit it from there….how about the player that holds his wedge (anchored) by his two hands and just turns his body back and forward chipping the ball?? Ban the club or do not ban how it is used…

  14. The dude

    Oct 25, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Biomech……(mic drop)

  15. Cir

    Oct 25, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    I think we should also get rid of alignment aids like different colors and lines, as well as mallet putters that are bigger than 10cm x 10cm. I mean who wants to putt with contraptions that have red, black, white or circles for alignment aid, anyways? lol

  16. Mike Mielenz

    Oct 25, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Peter Dawson, the head of the R&A, made a little-noticed comment several years ago that was reported by The Golf Channel. Peter had just witnessed a player at a tournament putt with a long putter and said to an associate, “That doesn’t look right. I’m going to do something about that.” He then basically held the USGA hostage under threat of bifurcating the rules, by saying that the R&A was going to rule against long putters and if the USGA didn’t agree to go along, the R&A were going to go their own way. Under threat of having the rules different at the USA and Mexico than elsewhere in the world, with the resulting confusion among worldwide tournament players, Mike Davis took the high road and got the USGA to agree to go along with the ban, assuming a reasonable rule could be found. What followed was a lengthy period where both ruling bodies finally settled on doing away with anchoring as a solution to the long putter problem, in the absence of another way to get rid of the long putters. After all, a 40″ putter might be traditional length for someone 6″ 6″, while it could be a chest-length putter for someone 5′ 0″, so specifying length would not be logical. All this was done to placate Peter Dawson, who then retired. I then suggested to Mike Davis that with Peter gone the rule might be rescinded, but he declined to re-open the issue with so much water having gone over the dam. So thanks to Peter Dawson for opening this can of worms in the first place, and meanwhile the long putters he determined to do away with are still around.

    • Rulez

      Oct 26, 2017 at 3:34 am

      Small balls? That’s also how it was with the R&A. Until somebody realized that it’s easier to make money making the same balls and selling it all over the world.
      After all, equipment is a large part of how the industry moves itself along.

  17. Mike

    Oct 25, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    It’s all too simple to fix: Max length of any club should be 40″

  18. nobody2u

    Oct 25, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    I got tired of reading and just wanted to probably repeat the real old guy’s that started playing in the 50’s. Langer should have never been able to use the long putter, he should never been able to play as slow as he does. In my opinion he single hand-idly ruined the true game. I’m glad that something is being done about about it even after he has won everything that could be won. So what if he stops winning, he should have a pile of cash higher than a show dog can jump over by now anyway. He started doing it and it caused a bunch of guys to start winning that turned it into rubbing it in the other guy’s faces. Wipe that s##t eating grin off the illegal club users and get it back to real golf. PS, I’m not going to read any more articles after I finish this, the crybaby’s that are using the long putters should form another group and play their own league some place else, like a croquet course in their back yards.

    • JJVas

      Oct 25, 2017 at 4:37 pm

      How are those hickory shafted blades treating you? Just don’t cry about it too much, because those tears slow down the greens, and my long putter works better when they’re at 10+.

    • Tom1

      Oct 25, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      nobody you don’t watch the champions tour do a?

  19. Steve Frishmuth

    Oct 25, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Why not just limit the length of the putter to certain # of inches. …..say 40″….and handle can’t touch your torso

    • Rulez

      Oct 26, 2017 at 3:37 am

      Can’t do that, if you have other clubs longer than that, say, your woods? Because in the end, the game is just about getting the ball in the hole, no matter what equipment you use in the bag as long as it’s one of the 14, so you can putt with a driver at 48 inches, if you want.

  20. gregh

    Oct 25, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    It is just another case of the USGA coming up with a solution to a problem that didn’t exist

  21. JJVas

    Oct 25, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    A bad back forced this former scratch to use a long putter for the past 23 years. Putting it off my chest by 0.5″ changed nothing. Zero adjustment. If you think Langer is cheating, you’re either misinformed or jealous. He doesn’t need to… there is really no significant difference. The USGA just needs to take a Mulligan here and admit they screwed up. It happens. I know they’re not comfortable watching 10-year olds use belly putters. At least be honest with it and own it. All this rule has done is make me a slower player who has to listen to idiocy now and then from uneducated guys playing golf who don’t understand the rule. Thanks USGA!

  22. BallBuster

    Oct 25, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Why is the argument that it gives an unfair advantage so twisted and skewed? No one ever said it flat out gives EVERYONE an unfair advantage across the board who adopts using it. No. Never. It can (and has been shown statistically) however to give an aid SOME of those who struggle with a more traditional style. Using it does not even guarantee it will help either. It “might”. The unfair comes in competition when someone who putts traditional gets beat on say a final putt (for example) by someone who anchors. If you’re by yourself or among friends who don’t care, it shouldn’t matter what one uses. But some feel in competition it should be a bit more leveled out. Stewart Cink in the early 90’s went from being well past the top 100 in putting down to #2 in just 1 year! He directly 100% credited it to the long anchored putting. It was right in an article in Golf Digest. He is the prime example why those who lost money to him were miffed and said it was unfair. Ditto Azinger and recently Scott had much better putting statistics with the anchor method. At least phrase the context of the argument correctly to decide what’s fair.

  23. the bishop

    Oct 25, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    “We”? You gotta mouse in your pocket? I was against the ban and I’m not, never have been, and never will be a long putter user.

    • Da Izzlest

      Oct 25, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      Right? The article’s title led me to believe the author was a USGA guy involved in the ban.
      GolfWRX is getting very click bait-y.

  24. Al

    Oct 25, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    So Kutcher arms would be in violation of your suggestion? As well I agree with Chopper above. Hands touch the club but nowhere in your rule does it state the hands can’t touch the body. Interesting.

  25. J Zilla

    Oct 25, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    It’s kinda ridiculous the USGA decided to get in the business of regulating swing aesthetics. Regulating the equipment is fine ie length of the putter, size of putter head etc but a player should be allowed to swing a legal club any damn way they want. If it looks bad so what? The USGA should go to the local muni and check out what some real ugly swings look like.

  26. anthony aguilar

    Oct 25, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Anchoring the putter into the chest or anchoring anywhere to a body part is a definite advantage !!!the putter stays stable at the top of grip and it’s easier to repeat itself the USGA is correct on Banning!!

    • Jason

      Oct 25, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      Have you ever tried it?

      I have struggled with putting for a good part of the last decade+. I tried a belly (and broom stick) putter.

      Yes it does make the putter more stable, but my experience was I lost feeling on the putts. So my lag putting went to hell. I realized “so what if this makes a 3′ putt easier, if I’m lagging it to 6′ instead of 4′ I’m still loosing strokes with the anchored putter.” I personally didn’t think it was worth it and I switched back to a more conventional putter before the ruling even came out.

      I’ve talked to numerous people who have putted with an anchored style and they agree it costs you on feel. So in reality it’s just a balancing act between feel & stability. But so is every other equipment decision you make, do you get the 460cc driver to be more accurate when the 430cc one will give you an extra 5 yards?

    • J Zilla

      Oct 25, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      If everyone is allowed to do it then it’s not an advantage. Banning it but leaving enough wiggle room in the rules could potentially create room for someone to game the rules and get an advantage, however.

      IMHO the only way to create a fair rule would be to allow all players to swing anyway they want but make rules that limit the equipment like say a max height for clubs.

  27. Mike

    Oct 25, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    To solve it once and for all, Just Ban Broom stick and unconventional putters, all putter grips must conform to standard length to allow hands to be together when making the stroke, so the padded out grip is ok so long as the thumbs touch, if you struggle with a conventional style putter, then do more practice on feel and motion, and try to read the greens better, take a course planner out with you, and stop bloody guessing the breaks, there’s an old adage, if you want to get better at something then practise more on the weaker part of your game, be it Putting, chipping, whatever, you must be dedicated to improving your game, it takes a tidy few hours a week but just do it under supervision if possible.

  28. farmer

    Oct 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    If Langer wasn’t winning, this would not be an issue. Why does he win? He is a superior ball striker and gives himself a lot of birdie opportunities. His putting style is certainly a part of the formula, but not the whole equation.

  29. Christopher

    Oct 25, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    The thing is, no one player gained an unfair advantage with anchoring, the technology was available to every player at every level, if you wanted to try it you could. It’s not like Taylor Made or Ping had the rights to the clubs or technique and would only allow their staff players to participate.

    4 out of 6 majors were won by anchoring and I think the governing bodies thought it looked bad for the game, it didn’t.

  30. Bob Jones

    Oct 25, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    I am convinced that the only reason the R&A and USGA banned anchored putting was because they were upset by players winning major championships putting that way. Period.
    It’s the same reason they rushed in the rule banning croquet-style putting because Bobby Jones got all huffy when he saw Sam Snead putting that way and said, “That’s not golf!” — no good reason at all.
    The USGA is trying to grow the game yet they take away from thousands of recreational golfers with yips and bad backs a way they can play the game and enjoy it.
    As for “traditional” strokes, people who say swinging a club freely is the “spirit of the game”, please tell when this “spirit” originated. Was there a meeting in 1783 I don’t know about? I thought the spirit of the game was to play the ball from where it lies. But having to swing a club freely? Where does that come from?
    The anchor ban was the dumbest thing the USGA could have done, and is the reason why I stopped renewing my membership. If you play with me, you can anchor your putter all day, and even your driver if you want to. The USGA can go (ahem) itself.

    • JoeyG

      Oct 25, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      If the anchored long putter is okay with you, why can’t the Snead croquet style putting be okay as well?
      The long putter is a greater abomination to the game of golf than croquet putting.
      What is so wrong with croquet putting anyway?

      • J Zilla

        Oct 25, 2017 at 6:23 pm

        Nothing. The powers that be just don’t like how it looks. Essentially saying, “this is how a golf swing (or putter stroke in this instance) are supposed to look and that’s that!”

      • Bob Jones

        Oct 25, 2017 at 8:26 pm

        Absolutely nothing. Isn’t that clear from my remarks?

  31. Jerry

    Oct 25, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    As Langer says as the video begins, “I do everything the same, really…” I don’t know how any golfer can rehearse the anchor a couple of times, line up and remember to take the club off the chest. He’s also playing for a lot of money … take away any question of anchoring. If you can’t see air between club and chest, assume it’s anchoring.

    • 2putttom

      Oct 25, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      aww yes, kinda like the bed sheets are wrinkled I know your having an affair assumption

  32. Greg V

    Oct 25, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    The USGA should be governing equipment, but not how to use it. So long as a player doesn’t scrape or push the ball, any stroke should be permissible. However, no club should be longer than the driver, which has a maximum length of 48″ at present (I think). The USGA made a huge mistake when they allowed the broomstick back in the beginning.

    By the way, I brought my belly putter out to my Thursday night league this year and asked around if anyone had a problem with my putting it into play. To a man (and woman), no one said they had a problem with it. I made 4 putts over 10′ that night, which is a rarity for me. And still, no one said I should not use it the next Thursday. However, my handicap did drop precipitously.

    • Dave

      Oct 25, 2017 at 9:04 pm

      If you were using an illegal stroke by USGA rules how is the score legal for USGA handicapping purposes?

      • Greg V

        Oct 26, 2017 at 12:05 pm

        Aha! The league commissioner establishes handicaps – at his discretion. Some people gripe about them, some don’t, and we manage to have a lot of fun anyway.

        Sort of like the old British system where the captain of the club established the handicaps after playing with a member. Hard to sandbag in that system.

    • DrRob1963

      Oct 26, 2017 at 4:20 am

      “The USGA made a huge mistake when they allowed the broomstick back in the beginning” is absolutely correct. Broomsticks and anchoring have become part of the game. Trying to ban them now is like trying to get the egg back out of the omelette!
      These things need to be addressed when they start, not after they become common around the world, in tournament, social & club play.

  33. Greg V

    Oct 25, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    I think that the USGA should govern equipment, but should not govern how to use it – beyond the dictum of having to hit the ball instead of scraping or pushing it. The USGA should never have allowed a club to be longer than the length the driver, which I think is 48″ at present.

    By the way, whatever happened to the rule that the clubhead should be plain and simple in shape?

  34. Andrew

    Oct 25, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Yips and nerves are put of the game. Thumbs must be on the the side of the grip toward the ground.

    • Dave

      Oct 25, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      Side of the grip…Which side? Mine are on top of the grip.

  35. John Grossi

    Oct 25, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    The current rule is not enforceable. I say go back to the way the rule was written a few years ago. As the author stated, if it was a superior way to putt then every golfer, especially the pros, would be using it.

  36. Rona

    Oct 25, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    In the sport of badminton the serve must be executed with the racquet head below the position of the wrist holding the racquet.
    If you add this restriction of to both hands for golf putting along with the putter free of the body which includes the arms your problem would be solved.
    Now we have the problem of golfers suffering from the ‘yips’ and sore backs when bending over. For pro golfers this involves their livelihood and a medical exemption could be arranged for the long putter. Medical research indicates that the yips vanish when one of the hands is held at the height of the heart. Belly putting is outright cheating. As for sore backs, that is a structural problem that requires convalescence.

  37. Richard

    Oct 25, 2017 at 11:58 am

    Selective enforcement of the rules has come along to be the root cause of this mess.
    The various revenue streams in the Golf as global spectator entertainment will now drive what eventually emerges.
    My personal opinion: the putter should be swung like all the other clubs in the bag, I think there might be a rule that triggers that opinion in my head.
    If this had been enforced at the very outset, we would not be in the mess we find today.
    Too bad so sad if some guys can’t putt. Maybe we can have trophies for the best ball strikers with every club except putter.

  38. John

    Oct 25, 2017 at 11:58 am

    the next thing the usga will do is, that tour players are only allowed to use 430cc driver heads, have to play blades and a 3 layer ball.
    i mean come on. some of those rules/restrictions are just nonsense.

    • Shallowface

      Oct 25, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      The USGA has no authority over the PGA Tour, or anything or anyone else for that matter other than the tournaments it runs. It is largely ignored at every level of play every single day. Winter rules, more than 14 clubs, leaf rules, ignoring the stroke and distance rule for a lost ball, and now the absurdity of not being allowed to post rounds played as a single for handicap purposes (one which I have ignored any number of times this year and will continue to do so), just to site a very few examples.

      If the PGA Tour decided to allow ANYTHING it wanted rules wise in the interest of enhancing its product (anchored putters, non conforming equipment, naked female caddies, you name it), it is entirely within its rights to do so. It could even do so without declaring it publicly, as they would likely never want to be seen as being in official conflict with the USGA.

      You can write a local rule for anything. I once played a course in Orlando that actually allowed a mulligan off the first tee as one of its local rules. You had to play it if you took it, but it was allowed under a local rule.

      But make no mistake. The USGA has no real authority. Only the authority which it is granted at any level. It’s one of the dirty little not so secrets of our wonderful game.

      • Larry

        Oct 25, 2017 at 2:21 pm

        That is how recreational golf should be played and I suspect is played by the vast majority of the golfers in the world. It should be encouraged. That will grow the game. If it is discouraged, the game will continue to fade away.

  39. I chop too

    Oct 25, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Anchoring is immaterial for the majority of players. You start the argument by saying that anchoring has been around for 50 years and has not been widely adopted, so provides no clear advantage. You then support no anchoring allowed based upon tradition. You are not in a rut, you are in a ditch! Very few elements of equipment have been stopped because of tradition; e.g. Balls, metal woods, steel shafts, graphite shafts, etc. Things need to evolve and anti anchoring was a knee jerk response to anchored putters winning 3 tourneys in 1 year.

  40. Kooch

    Oct 25, 2017 at 11:12 am

    This solves one problem and creates another, namely Matt Kuchar’s putting style where you press the shaft along your forearm and the hand contacts the forearm as well. This is expressly allowed under the current rule, but could be seen as banned under your prospective rule. The whole thing is dumb and should just go back to square one.

  41. Kenny

    Oct 25, 2017 at 11:06 am

    So that change allows the Langer’s of the world to go back to anchoring, but now makes the Kucher style of putting illegal, right? It seems like it just opens a new can of worms. I agree it would be easier to enforce. I think the rules should just go away. I also putt with a conventional putter.

  42. Jason

    Oct 25, 2017 at 11:04 am


    So based on this change the Matt Kuchar putting style would be illegal? Given that the putter touches his forearm and per that statement the forearm is part of the body (not the club).

    Maybe your intent would be to ban Kuchar’s putting style, but if not…

    Do you see where it isn’t just “a simple fix”?

    • Scott

      Oct 25, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Would adding “other than the hands or arms, with the hands (only) being considered part of the club.” The USGA and R&A tried to fix a problem that did not exist. I use a traditional style of putter, but I could not care less what someone else uses.

  43. gunmetal

    Oct 25, 2017 at 10:59 am

    As a guy who used to use a belly putter, but has since massively improved my putting (thanks Seemore and Garsen) with a traditional style of putting, this article makes all the sense in the world to me – as does your solution. Which is why, sadly, the USGA and R&A will never walk back the anchor ban.

    I feel for Langher and all of the crap he hears behind his back or on Social Media (nobody will say anything to his face).

    • 2putttom

      Oct 25, 2017 at 10:09 pm

      not after @ 272 yards 3 wood that put his ball six feet from the pin to eagle the 18th and win by one stroke.

  44. Chopper

    Oct 25, 2017 at 10:52 am

    “No part of the club may touch any part of the body other than the hands, and the hands are considered to be part of the club.” How exactly would that have left Langer alone? Hands are part of the club and he anchored his hand into his chest. Your simple fix doesn’t work at all. In fact, everyone is now in breach of the rule unless your hands are not touching your wrists, in which case you are good.

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Jason Day’s performance coach, Jason Goldsmith, joins the 19th hole



In this episode of the 19th Hole, Jason Goldsmith of FocusBand talks about how the breakthrough technology has helped PGA Tour stars Jason Day and Justin Rose to major wins. Also, host Michael Williams gives his take on Tiger Woods’ return to golf.

Click here to listen on iTunes!

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Ari’s Course Reviews: Oakmont Country Club



Editor’s Note: Ari Techner is a well-traveled, golf-course connoisseur who’s setting out to review the best golf courses in the world. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are his own. 

Oakmont Country Club. The name alone strikes fear into the heart of any mortal golfer. Oakmont has a reputation for difficulty unmatched in the golf world; it’s fear forged in the public’s eye while watching best players in the world struggle during the U.S. Open every 10-plus years or so. There is a notion that Oakmont could hold a U.S. Open just about any day of the year. This is not a course that needs to be tweaked from its daily setup to test the best in the world.

All that said, a close look at the course reveals that there is so much more to Oakmont than just difficulty. Since around 1950, MANY courses have been built with the dilebrate intention of holding a U.S. Open. Most, if not all, of these courses are filled with water hazards, extremely long holes and very little variety. Oakmont is the exact opposite of that, and this is what is at the core of its greatness.

A view from the ninth fairway

Oakmont Country Club first opened in 1903 and was designed by Henry Fownes, who built it because he felt the other courses around Pittsburgh were not difficult enough. The course was constantly tweaked in the early years by Fownes and his son William. Both Fownes were accomplished players with William winning the U.S. Amateur in 1910 and serving as the playing captain of the first U.S. Walker Cup team in 1922.

Trees, or no trees?

The 18th tee

The course was extremely influential in the development of early golf courses in America. It was equally influential in future years by setting trends that have changed the way many other courses have evolved. When Oakmont opened, it was built in an open field and had no trees on the course, adding to the links-like flavor that Fownes wanted from his visits overseas. In the 1950s (after all the Fownes had left the club) Oakmont added thousands of non-native trees to line the corridors of the holes, a look that was a heavy trend of the time. This work was mostly done by Robert Trent Jones, who also modified the bunkers to fit more of his style of the time.

The course continued to evolve over the years with the bunkers being restored by Tom Fazio… but the trees remained. In preparation for the 2008 U.S. Open, Oakmont cut down thousands of trees, returning the course to its open, windswept origins. This was very controversial among the members, and much of the work was done in the middle of the night in the off-season so as not to cause a big stir. After 2008, thousands more trees have been cut down, opening all of the amazing long views across the property. You can see almost every hole on the property from just about every spot on the course. Oakmont was the first course to embrace this massive tree removal and it has turned into a trend with hundreds of classic courses removing their non-native trees and going back to their more open original layouts.

Oakmont is the only course that Fownes designed and I believe that contributes greatly to its uniqueness. Fownes’ version of difficulty did not include artificial water hazards, out of bounds or excessive bunkering fronting greens, and it did not rely simply on longer-than-average holes to challenge the golfer. Instead, it has an amazingly varied mix of holes that challenge the golfer in a variety of ways both mentally and physically. Overall, the course requires you to be a straight driver of the ball, a good iron player and to have a deft short game and putting touch. You also need to be able to think your way around the course while you execute the shots you choose at a high level.

A good variety

Oakmont has its share of length with long par 4s, such as hole Nos. 1, 10, 15 and 18, the monster par-5 12th and long par 3s such as Nos. 8 and 16.  What sets the course apart to me, however, are the short holes and the holes that require strategic decision-making off the tee. These include short par 4s such Nos. 2, 11 and 17 and mid-length par 4s including Nos. 5 and 14.  These holes can be just as difficult as the long ones, and they require a completely different skill set.  The short par-3 13th and short par-5 9th (plays as a par 4 for the U.S. Open) round out what is an amazing set of shorter holes.

A view of the ninth fairway from across the Pennsylvania Turnpike

The course uses the natural movement of the site very well and has a tight, extremely walkable routing despite being bisected by the Pennsylvania Turnpike at the bottom of the hill in the middle of the property. I particularly love the fallaway greens at 1, 10, 12, and to a lesser degree 3 and 15 where the front of the green is higher than the back. This is a unique look that you do not see in the USA very often. Without the little backboard that a back-to-front sloping green provides, you must hit the ball solid or execute a well played run-up shot to hold the green. The short par 4s temp the long hitter just enough to make them think about hitting driver, but wayward shots are punished enough to make most think twice. The 17th, at a little under 300 yards, could be the hardest hole on the course, and yet it is definitely drivable for the right player who hits a great drive. The small and extremely narrow green requires a short shot be hit the perfect distance if you decide to lay up to the right down the fairway. Hit it even a little short and you end up in the aptly named “Big Mouth” bunker which is extremely deep. Hit it a hair long or with not enough spin to hold the green and you end up rolling over the green into one of a few smaller bunkers. Carry the bunkers on the left side off the tee into the sliver of fairway up by the green and you have a short, open shot from a much better angle into the fatter part of the green. Such risk/reward and great use of angles is paramount to Oakmont’s genius.

Green complexes are…complex

The green on the 18th hole

Oakmont also sports one of the best sets of greens anywhere in the world.  They are all heavily contoured and very challenging, yet playable. You can certainly make putts out there if you are putting well, but get on the wrong side of the hole and you are left with an extremely difficult, but rarely impossible 2 putt. They are also very unique due to Fownes only designing one course, as they do not look like any other classic course; they have a feel all their own. They are mostly open in front, coming from the correct angle, and they have many squarish edges. They also cut the tight fringe far back into the fairway, which aids in run-up shots; it also gives a great look where the green and the fairway blend together seamlessly.

The bunkering is also very unique and very special… and they are true hazards. Find yourself in a fairway bunker off the tee, and you are likely wedging out without much of any chance of reaching the greens. The green-side bunkers are fearsome, very deep and difficult. The construction of the bunkers is unique too — most of them have very steep and tall faces that were built up in the line of play. Oakmont is also home to one of the most famous bunkers in golf; the “Church Pews” bunkers — a large, long rectangular bunker between the fairways of holes 3 and 4 with strips of grass in the middle like the pews in a church. There is also a smaller “Church Pews” bunker left of the fairway off the tee on hole 15. Hit it into one of these two bunkers and good luck finding a descent lie.

Ari’s last word

All-in-all, along with being one of the hardest courses in the world, Oakmont is also one of the best courses in the world. It is hard enough to challenge even the best players in the world day-in and day-out, but it can easily be played by a 15-handicap without losing a ball. It is extremely unique and varied and requires you to use every club in your bag along with your brain to be successful. Add that to a club that has as much history as any other in the county, and Oakmont is one of golf’s incredibly special places.

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Coming Up: A Big Golf Adventure



My name is Jacob Sjöman, and I’m a 35-year-old golf photographer who also enjoys the game we all love. I will be sharing some experiences here on a big golf trip that we are doing. With me I’ve got my friend Johan. I will introduce him properly later, but he is quite a funny character. According to Johan, he is the best golf photo assistant in the world, and we will see about that since this is probably his biggest test yet doing this trip. Previously on our trips, Johan almost got us killed in Dubai with a lack of driving skills. He also missed a recent evening photo shoot in Bulgaria while having a few beers too many… and that’s not all.

Anyway, the last couple of days I’ve been packing my bags over and over. I came home from the Canary Islands this Sunday and I’ve been constantly checking and rechecking that we’ve got all the required equipment, batteries, and that the cameras are 100 percent functional and good to go for this golf trip. I’m still not sure, but in a couple of minutes I will be sitting in a taxi to the airport and there will be no turning back.

Where are we going then? We are going to visit some of the very best golf courses in New Zealand and Australia. There will be breathtaking golf on cliffsides, jaw-dropping scenic courses, and some hidden gems. And probably a big amount of lost balls with a lot of material produced in the end.

I couldn’t be more excited for a golf journey like this one. Flying around the globe to these special golf courses I’ve only dreamed about visiting before gives me a big kick and I feel almost feel like a Indiana Jones. The only thing we’ve got in common, though, is that we don’t like snakes. Australia seems to be one of the worst destinations to visit in that purpose, but all the upsides are massive in this.

First, we will take off from a cold Stockholm (it’s raining heavily outside at the moment) and then we will do our first stop at Doha in Quatar. Then after two more hours, we are finally heading off to Auckland on the north island of New Zealand, a mega-flight of 16 hours. I believe that could very well be one of the longest flights available for a ordinary airplane. I need to check that.

Flights for me usually mean work, editing photos from different golf courses I’ve visited, writing some texts, editing some films, and planning for the future. Last time, though, I finally managed to sleep a little, which is a welcome progress for a guy that was deadly scared of flying until 2008.

Now, I am perfectly fine with flying. A few rocky flights over the Atlantic Sea to Detroit helped me a lot, and my motto is now, “If those flights got me down on the ground safely, it takes a lot of failures to bring down a plane.”

Anyway, I hope you will join me on this golf trip. Stay tuned!

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19th Hole