In one of the most significant rule changes in decades, the major governing bodies in the sport of Golf have announced that “anchoring the putter” will be banned beginning on January 1st, 2016. This change was originally proposed back on November 28, 2012 by the USGA (United States Golf Association) and R&A (The Royal & Ancient Golf Club), but there was a 90-day waiting period before the legislation could be passed as a result of negative feedback.
For the uninitiated in the Golf world, “anchor putting” is the simple practice of using a “belly putter” and holding the top of the club against one’s body while making the putting stroke. It is important to note that use of the “long putter” is not banned with this ruling, as the length of putters is not in question, but rather, the club simply isn’t allowed to be pressed against the body of the golfer while completing the stroke.
There has been significant push-back from the PGA of America throughout the 90-day period, as several teaching pros have cited a potential stunt in the growth of the game as a negative to the new legislation. Four of the past six major championship winners, including the ultra-popular Adam Scott, use “anchor” putting strokes, and Scott was the first player to ever win The Masters using the putting style.
The debate continues to rage within Golf circles as to whether “anchor” putting should have been outlawed, but with accusations of “cheating” by those in favor of the legislation, the rule passed with a majority. PGA Tour players will have a 2.5-year grace period to adopt a new stroke, and while it certainly won’t be an overnight change, it appears that the Golf community is attempting to give them ample time to adjust.
As the quotes and reaction come to light, it will be riveting to see how the big-time tour pros (Scott, Ernie Els, Keegan Bradley, etc.) react to the news, and in the long run, the health of the game should be monitored as a response to the negative feedback. Tiger Woods, who famously stated that he “hoped they’d go with the ban”, will certainly be happy, and numerous other pros (including Rory McIlroy) have publicly backed the ruling. The debate rages on.