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.

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0
Previous articleStitch Golf Leather Headcover Review
Next articleK. Perry, O’Hair win the Shark Shootout at 31-under
Zak is the Managing Editor of GolfWRX.com.

He's been a part of the company since 2012, when he was hired to develop GolfWRX's front page. Since that time, GolfWRX has become the go-to destination on the web for golf equipment news, tour news, instruction and opinion.

Zak also developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers who want to improve their skills and allows established golf professionals to communicate directly with readers.

He played college golf at the University of Richmond, where he took too many strokes. Good thing he also studied journalism and creative writing.

You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss all the cool gear and insider info that's part of his job.

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.

  10. I can’t help but think that a lot of the whining about this new rule is due to the Golf Channel’s ridiculously over-the-top, nonstop coverage of the proposed ban. Guys hear Brandel and Charlie “hee-haw” Rymer and are given another reason to moan and complain about the game and the world. I also don’t understand these people who say “why don’t we tackle the driver and ball first!?” Seriously, haven’t they placed limits on balls and drivers ala COR, compression, size, etc.? In 2000 everyone extended the size of courses, courses I find are usually TOO long for 75% of amateurs. I want to know what the argument is, seriously, because I don’t get this one.

    And despite all of this, guys with back issues can still use their long stick, standing up nice and tall, they just can’t anchor in competition, in four years. What’s the fuss about?

    I feel like many of these “new quitters” are just squawk boxes with no intention to quit or a love of the curmudgeon lifestyle. Who they work for/where they come from, I don’t know.

    It’s as if these naysayers are all touring pros or competitive semi-pros whose livelihoods are being threatened due to, oh my, PUTTERS. I don’t belong to a private club, but at every course I play there are mulligans taken, balls played from OB, DOZENS of rules that are bent/broken for ENJOYMENT/FUN of a game that is hard and complicated enough. Unlike Charlie Rymer’s club, I can’t think of one course where someone will be called “CHEAT” and start a royal-rumble in the parking lot if they keep on anchoring– give us some credit as a semi-civilized, evolved species. If you want to keep anchoring, DO IT! NOBODY is going to stop you except you.

    • Great points. My original reaction to this rule was that it would cause problems for me so just walk away from the game. After chewing on it for a week I realized I play for 2 reasons. 1) because I like the challenge of improving 2) to play golf with my golf buddies. Both of these objectives can be met regardless of what USGA does. The worst that will happen is I can’t play in tournaments which is a bigger lose to the tournament winners and the supported charities than it is to me.

  11. It took Long putter opponents 30 year to invent a marketable excuse for some form of ban. How ironic they are using “for the good of the game” logic to do harm to the game. I use a belly putter. It’s not anchored but it’s close enough that the long putter haters will say it is. ( If they don’t need facts to ban anchoring they won’t need facts to call it anchoring) I wonder if players will still police themselves and determine if they have anchored. I doubt it and that is why banning anchoring will fundamentally change the game from voluntary compliance & self penalty to rules targeting specific players which will likely drive polarization of players and golf organizations. I will continue using the belly putter as I have for the past 10 years regardless of what USGA does. The worst that will happen is not being able to play in club events. USGA should focus on formation of a comprehensive technology & methodology plan to manage the future of golf. They can go forward or go under but they can’t go back.

  12. I’m using a broomstick since this summer and it helped me a lot to improve my putting. Now i’ve heard the news about ban the anchoring. if the rule will start from 2016 i don’t understand all the stupid people heckling who use belly or long.
    all my friends know i’m good with the long but are nearly happy to see me being banned using this. they should worry about taking more GIR than thinking to solve their problems only with the put. enjoy golf always! ’cause every monday we all need to go back to work…:)

  13. The USGA needs to man up and implement this rule starting Jan 1st, 2013. They’re just asking for a bunch of half-drunk idiot spectators to heckle the pros that are still using them from now until 2016. Hell I’m even seriously considering switching my belly putter out ASAP to avoid being heckled by that two-beers-in-and-it’s-only-8am guy with the Coors tour bag. Wedges were easy to disguise if they weren’t conforming, but a belly putter isn’t. I think the USGA needs to get out of their ultra-polite country club mindset and realize that the tour as well as average Joe municipal golfers will have to deal with frustrating explanations to their playing partners as to why they are still using a belly putter if they carry out this 4 year grace period. Rip the band aid off quickly!

  14. The rule should be for the professionals only. Levels the playing field a little. If the pros tweak their clubs to fit them (example: 5 iron has a different loft and lie than someone else) what is the norm? If the shafts on competing pros clubs were different one pro to the next what is the norm? Do I care as a casual golfer? NO!

    What needs to happen is that the average golfer learn to play for the enjoyment of the game and not be influenced by “what the pros do” and the rules of the game be adjusted accordingly.

    Can’t play in the club championship? Talk to your club and see if the rules can be modified. You are not playing for the FedX cup and obviously you are not on tour.

  15. I started anchoring my 35” putter back in 1989. NOW they decide its illegal !!! They should have decided back then. Its a shame golf is run by a bunch of Dinosaures… Let’s ban women again! Why not? Its so stupid. Its like all the champions where anchoring their putters. Its not a advantage, its a style and all can use it.

  16. I think you’ll see a small amout of golfers who do play competitive leave the game because of this. Not a huge number but some for sure. The long putter has been around a lot longer than metal woods and the new hot balls and now they decide to make a rule change. I think the first long putter was in the 30’s or 40’s and not just within the last 20 years. I about died when I heard St. Andrews is being reworked because of the ball and club technology advances. Maybe those are things that should be addressed before the putter.