Claiming they are “protecting the tradition” of golf, the U.S. Golf Association and The R&A today announced the adoption of Rule 14-1b of the Rules of Golf that prohibits anchoring the club in making a stroke. The new Rule will take effect on January 1, 2016, in accordance with the regular four-year cycle for changes to the Rules of Golf.
Rule 14-1b essentially bans players from connecting other parts of their bodies for what the USGA and R&A believe is an unfair advantage.
The Rule is different from most in the Rules of Golf in that it dictates a stroke rather than a piece of equipment or even a condition of play.
The Rule doesn’t ban belly putters and long putters but effectively restricts the way they can be used. Players using belly putters and
long putters have won each of golf’s major championships, including Adam Scott at the 2013 Masters.
USGA President Glen Nager said the decision to adopt the new Rule came after a “comprehensive process” in which comments and suggestions
from across the golf community were collected and “thoroughly” considered. Perhaps, but the PGA Tour and PGA of America each have expressed concerns about the Rule, setting up what could be power struggle over the Rules of Golf, especially if the PGA Tour balks at the Rule.
In a statement released shortly after the USGA’s announcement, the Tour said:
“We would like to thank the USGA for providing the opportunity for input and suggestions relative to Rule 14-1b over the last several months. During that time, various questions were raised and issues discussed.
“We will now begin our process to ascertain whether the various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions and, if so, examine the process for implementation.
“In this regard, over the next month we will engage in discussions with our Player Advisory Council and Policy Board members.
We will announce our position regarding the application of Rule 14-1b to our competitions upon conclusion of our process and we will have no further comment on the matter until that time.”
That’s not exactly a shot across the bow of the USGA and R&A, but could cause some squirming at USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J.
The USGA and The R&A have jointly prepared a detailed report to explain the reasons for the decision to adopt Rule 14-1b. The report,
according to the governing bodies, concludes that the new Rule “should not adversely” affect participation in the game, that it is not too late or unfair to require players to comply with it and that it will remove concerns about any potential advantage that anchoring provides.