Anchoring on its way out

All signs point to golf’s ruling bodies–the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient– making it against the rules to anchor a golf club, particularly a putter, to the body. It would not actually ban the longer putters, just the method of using them.

The anti-anchoring rule would not become an official part of the rules into 2016, but there is always the possibility of it being added sooner as a condition of competition like the one-ball rule.

After ignoring the practice for two decades, the ruling bodies now think that anchoring is contrary to the intent, spirit and history of the game.

Under a ban against anchoring, the club could not touch any part of the body except a player’s hands. This would probably include securing it against the forearm like Bernhard Langer does.

Mike David, the USGA executive director, informed the PGA Tour Policy Board of this likely action in late October, adding that a formal announcement would be forthcoming.

Davis Love, one of three players on the Tour’s policy board, expressed concern over Davis’ announcement, saying that he expected some players might fight such a change. The PGA Tour would not have to follow the lead of the ruling bodies, but despite some strong opposition from some of the players it likely would do so.

If the leading professional organizations didn’t go along, it would mean that the anchoring ban would be in effect only at the U.S. Open, British Open and possibly the Masters for the game’s elite professionals plus the major USGA and R&A events.

No doubt, the move to change the rules was prompted by the recent upsurge in use of anchored putting strokes on Tour by major winners Webb Simpson, Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley. However, a Darrell Survey revealed only 15% of the touring pros used longer putters.

Earlier prior the British Open, Peter Dawson of the R&A, said, “We appreciate that this is a complex and emotive issue that divides opinion. Any decision will be made with the best interests of the game in mind and introduced only after a lengthy period of notice.”

I’m sure the fact that Ernie Els grabbed the Claret Jug, anchoring and using a long putter, didn’t set well with Dawson and his R&A counterparts, especially right in front of them.

I don’t actually see the ban on anchoring as being good for the game. If someone wants to use anchoring and a longer putter and it makes the game m ore enjoyable for them that’s fine with me.

I’m sure some of the traditionalists wish that we all were using persimmon drivers and Balata balls, but even with all the technological advances the game is not much easier for the masses.

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