How the Ban on Anchored Putters Affects the Game of Golf

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To anchor, or not to anchor? This has been a very hot topic in the world of golf these past few years. PGA Players such as Keegan Bradley and Adam Scott have certainly had success with anchoring their putters on Tour, but the change is coming soon, making anchoring a thing of the past. The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the R&A are golf’s governing bodies, and they have announced the adoption of Rule 14-1b of the Rules of Golf that prohibits anchoring the club in making a stroke. In accordance to the regular four-year cycle of making changes to the Rules of Golf, this new rule will take effect on January 1, 2016.

Among the many questions and opinions about this ruling, one of the biggest misconceptions seems to be that people think that the longer putters are no longer allowed on Tour. However, the ruling only applies to the putter being anchored to your body, regardless of the length. Based on the principles that founded the Rules of Golf, freely swinging the entire club is the essence of the putting stroke. Understandably, anchoring is a very different kind of stroke, and this new rule goes into effect so that the anchored putting stroke doesn’t alter or diminish the fundamental challenge of the game.

According to the official announcement by the USGA, here is the Guidance for Players and Officials on Rule 14-1b.

Definition of the New Rule

 14-1b Anchoring the Club

 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.

So, what does this new ruling mean for the game of golf? It can be broken down to mean that any putter physically anchored to the body is not permitted, which can include the mid-length putter anchored against stomach, anchored long putter, anchored point created by forearm and end of club anchored against chin.

As noted in all of the announcements, there are still a number of grips and strokes that are not at all affected, providing the stroke allows them to freely swing the entire club. Grips not affected include traditional grip, long putter not anchored, claw, cross-handed, mid-length putter not anchored, grip resting against forearm, forearms held against body without anchor point and one or both elbows braced against body.

As many golfers of all levels continue to look at putter options, including those who are learning to no longer anchor their club, the counter balance putters are a very popular item these days. In the case of these counterbalanced putters, the weighting and length differ from the conventional putter, with heavier heads (by 50 grams or more); meaning more weight is placed above the golfer’s hands to compensate for the additional weight. The putter’s overall MOI (moment of inertia) is increased, so in a perfect world, the putting stroke becomes more stable.

“Heightened enthusiasm around counterbalanced putters is good for the industry,” says Rich Katz, Managing Director of Buffalo Brand Invigoration Group. “It’s opened fresh dialog on design principals that challenge preconceived notions, and consumers now have more putters to choose from to help lower their scores.”

While many golfers are still using traditional putters (men’s and women’s) with the standard grips, a number of golfers have found that anchoring their putter is very beneficial to help them on the greens. For these players who feel the need for these new technologies and techniques to help them achieve better putting consistency and accuracy, the counterbalanced putter is a nice alternative to achieve a smoother and more stable putting stroke. Regardless of what you decide, find a stroke that works, which does not include anchoring, and then spend a lot of time on the putting green to master your very own stroke to make more of those clutch putts.