The USGA and R&A have proposed a change to the Rules of Golf that will prohibit the anchoring of a club in during all strokes, including during putting.

The proposed rule will fall under Rule 14-1b, and state:

In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either “directly” or by use of an “anchor point.”

Note 1:  The club is anchored “directly” when the player intentionally holds the club or a gripping hand in contact with any part of his body, except that the player may hold the club or a gripping hand against a hand or forearm.

Note 2:  An “anchor point” exists when the player intentionally holds a forearm in contact with any part of his body to establish a gripping hand as a stable point around which the other hand may swing the club.

The new rule will not alter equipment rules, meaning all conforming equipment including belly and long putters will remain legal. But belly and long putters will not be allowed to be anchored to the body, with the exception of putting styles like Matt Kuchar’s, who won The Players Championship while anchoring his putter grip alongside his left forearm.

“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.

Three of the last five major champions: Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els have won using anchored putting styles that would be prohibited under the new rule. The rule is expected to be finalized in the spring and go into effect Jan. 1, 2016, after a 90-day comment period that will allow industry members to address concerns about the anchor rule.

“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.”

Below is a graphic from the USGA that illustrates the new rule. Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

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151 COMMENTS

  1. Why does golf need the R&A and USGA? what other sport gives ruling power to some third party vendor?
    Stupid game. Ban the USGA.

    (No, I don’t use an anchored putter)

  2. I don’t agree but will adapt with sidesaddle. I will vote for this rule with my wallet. No longer a member of USGA . Wahoo!

  3. I don’t see a problem with using a belly putter. Of course you ask Tiger what he thinks and jack they’re gonna be against it. Tiger is only chasing records and could care less about growing the game of golf. Spolier Alert: Tiger doesn’t go to Abu Dhabi or China to grow the game, he goes for a free payday even if he misses the cut.

    If you put two Professional golfers on the same putting surface with a belly putter or a traditional putter there won’t be a hole lot of difference. One thing i believe that effects putting stats more than anything is the green condition. Most scores seem to be better early in the morning. This is not due to the better players being out first every day. A putt that holds its line and rolls true has a lot better chance than one that bounces.

    I could care less about how the ball flies these days or how big the clubs are. When you reach a certain point in your game its not going to help you much. Scores are produced with the short game and if i want to use a belly putter or traditional putter to try to shoot lower then i’ll do it.

  4. I have never had a problem with the longer putter at any level in golf and I have never used one.

    My question to the R & A is, if these putters give the players an advantage then why isn’t every professional using them? Secondly, why aren’t the golfers that use these putters ranked number one in putting on every tour?

    The R & A need to focus on the real problem in golf and that is technology. Golf courses are being forced to alter their set ups to accommodate the ever increasing distances players are hitting.

    The R & A should be looking at putting some sort of limit on the amount of technology in drivers and golf balls. This is where the real issue in golf is.

  5. I cannot say I agree with the proposed rule change for two reason. The first is that it appears to me to be an irrational narrowing or constriction of the original rule 14-1 which simply stated that;

    “14-1. Ball to be Fairly Struck At
    The ball must be fairly struck at with the head of the club and must not be pushed, scraped or spooned”

    In keeping with the spirit of 14-1 there is no reasonable basis to disallow anchoring the elbows or hands to any part of the body as long as the ball is “fairly struck at”. Keep in mind that all the interpretation I have ever seen surrounding this rule has to do with if a stroke is incurred when the ball is struck and not how the stroke is implemented.

    If they were going to make an addition similar or the same as what is proposed under 14-1b it would have been more logical to me to do so under 14-3 and more specifically in part where it indicates that ;

    …..Except as provided in the Rules, during a stipulated round the player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment, or use any equipment in an unusual manner:
    a. That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play; …

    The problem they would have faced in trying to enlarge this to include anchoring the hands or elbows I believe would have been that they would have created a contradiction to another part of that same rule under the exceptions where it provides;

    “2. A player is not in breach of this Rule if he uses equipment in a traditionally accepted manner.”

    Long putters have been in use since the 1980’s and belly putters since as early as the 1960’s when it was used by Phil Rogers. I don’t think its an unreasonable statement to say that as both of these having been used with or without anchoring for the past 30 years or so that has been a clearly established traditional accepted manner of use for them.

    I think the USGA recognized the anomaly they would be creating if they tried to regulate the use of the these putters in 14-3 where it really belonged and instead opted to add a very indefensible addition under 14-1 where it clearly does not belong.

    To me the addition of 14-1b, particularly in the manner and where it has been added, evades the entire spirit and tradition of the rules as written and intended and for that reason I cannot agree with USGA’s arbitrary and indefensible addition of it.

    The entire rule 14-3 is as below for your reading;

    “14-3. Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Unusual Use of Equipment
    The United States Golf Association (USGA) reserves the right, at any time, to change the Rules relating to artificial devices, unusual equipment and the unusual use of equipment, and make or change the interpretations relating to these Rules.
    A player in doubt as to whether use of an item would constitute a breach of Rule 14-3 should consult the USGA.
    A manufacturer should submit to the USGA a sample of an item to be manufactured for a ruling as to whether its use during a stipulated round would cause a player to be in breach of Rule 14-3. The sample becomes the property of the USGA for reference purposes. If a manufacturer fails to submit a sample or, having submitted a sample, fails to await a ruling before manufacturing and/or marketing the item, the manufacturer assumes the risk of a ruling that use of the item would be contrary to the Rules.
    Except as provided in the Rules, during a stipulated round the player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment, or use any equipment in an unusual manner:
    a. That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play; or
    b. For the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play; or
    c. That might assist him in gripping the club, except that:
    (i) plain gloves may be worn;
    (ii) resin, powder and drying or moisturizing agents may be used; and
    (iii) a towel or handkerchief may be wrapped around the grip.
    Exceptions:
    1. A player is not in breach of this Rule if (a) the equipment or device is designed for or has the effect of alleviating a medical condition, (b) the player has a legitimate medical reason to use the equipment or device, and (c) the Committee is satisfied that its use does not give the player any undue advantage over other players.
    2. A player is not in breach of this Rule if he uses equipment in a traditionally accepted manner.”

  6. The only reason they are going after the long putter is that it is becoming too popular. People have used the long putter for the 50 years I have played and no one cared a lick about the “purity of the game”.

    The ruling bodies of golf are totally out of touch…….maybe that is a requirement to be on their board of directors? Gives one pause. Infinitely rich with nothing worthwhile to do. So go mess with a perfectly fine game.

    Going after the grooves…..just means that the 1965 Haig Ultras I occasionally like to use will be non-compliant. Too bad. I love the game of golf and the spirit of a match between the player and the course as he/she finds it.

    Everything else is just artificial

    We need seperate rules for amateur and professional golf……just like college and professional football, baseball, hockey, basketball…..you get the idea.

  7. I am more than a little disappointed with this rule change, which reflects solely an aesthetic reaction by a majority of golf’s ruling bodies. That the rule is is a policy reaction to that which some have found to be a stroke that jars their sensibilities is self-evident. It is akin to an appreciation of art. Da Vinci is in. Picasso is out. This subjectivity comes to the fore when one examines the way in which Kuchar’s stroke is okay, but others are not. Anchoring is out, but the claw (which I favour) and Kuchar’s method are in. The rule itself cannot be used to justify the distinction, since it was crafted ad hoc to eliminate putting strokes that were displeasing to some eyes. It is not the reason for the ban. It is simpy the manner in which the policy objective is being achieved. Would that golf authorities had the courage to address issues of real concern to the game. It’s easier to deal with idiosyncratic putting strokes, than it is to address the equipment issues that actually threaten the game of golf. The likelihood of the USGA and the R&A being sued over the latter is much less than the former.

    • The last sentence should have read: “The likelihood of the USGA and the R&A being sued over the former is much less than the latter.”

  8. I’m a little disappointed with the crowd that are so for the anchor ban. Seems to me they are afraid they might be beat with one. The way they keep comparing it to swinging the rest of the clubs in the bag i think is an unfair comparison. Making a stroke with a putter is no where close to swinging an iron or wood. I’ve putted well with both styles of putters and can attest the nerves can affect the stroke with either putter, short or long. I am interested on what stand the local tournaments will take on this ruling and whether or not their will be an Exception to the USGA rules made for those using long putters. The numbers for individual stroke play tournaments keep going down and if you take out those using long putters that will make it even harder to run a tournament. I don’t plan on supporting the USGA anymore until they start doing something that actually grows the game rather than hurts it.

  9. Personal I feel that this game is had enough. If a putting style helps you play this game for longer and enjoy it more, i think we should do all we can to encourage it. The ruling in my opinion discredits guys like Ernie, Keegan and Web’s majors…

    If all 10 of the top players in the world used long putters, than maybe look at it, but as far as i know, only 6 out of the top 50 players in the world use them. Hardly dominating the charts…

    To me, that is a shocking call from the USGA & R&A.

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