The USGA and R&A recently made it official, declaring the proposed anchoring ban under Rule 14-1b will go into effect January 1, 2016.  No proposed rules change in recent memory has provoked the controversy that this one has. If you believe the compilation of media reports, the R&A didn’t like the fact that major championships were starting to be won by players using the belly putter, and wanted to take action to ban anchoring.  The USGA was reluctant at first but eventually gave in.  For 90 days, the USGA and R&A took comments, but I think we all know this was just for show and that the ban would become official. From a practical standpoint, I believe there will be controversy.  There are black and white situations where it is clear whether the player is anchoring or not, but there is a huge gray area in between.  There very well could be arguments, and that’s not good for the game. I have no personal dog in this fight, as I use a 31-inch putter and putt conventionally, but I cannot see the point behind this ban.  The essence of the game is striking the ball, and no less than Ben Hogan didn’t even consider putting to be a part of “real” golf.  What’s disappointing is the R&A’s tortured logic of wanting to “more clearly defining what a stroke is.”  Why didn’t they just come out and admit they didn’t like the way anchored strokes looked? Part of their “reasoning” is the alleged proliferation of anchored strokes used by up-and-coming players.  The problem is there is no distinction between belly putting and traditional long putting – the latter which has NEVER gained widespread acceptance.  If this is about belly putting, simply re-write the rule to say that only the hands and/or forearms can come into contact with the club during a stroke.  That would be a lot simpler than having to have a press conference, a Power Point presentation, a chart, a video, and two pages of explanation to describe the new rule. If you need to do all that to make the new rule clear, it’s a fair bet to say it’s probably not a good rule change. By Mark Harman, USGTF National Course Director
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