Golf's decision-makers have decided it's time to drop the anchor.
The USGA and R&A — the sport’s governing bodies — have announced a proposal to ban "anchoring" of any club to a player's body on or off the green. The rule is set to go in effect Jan. 1, 2016, when the next edition of the rules of golf are released.
“Throughout the 600-year history of golf, the essence of playing the game has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “The player’s challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge. Our conclusion is that the Rules of Golf should be amended to preserve the traditional character of the golf swing by eliminating the growing practice of anchoring the club.”
Long putters and belly putters have become a hot button issue in the sport with their increasing popularity both on tour and for recreational golfers.
Top players using anchored putters include Ernie Els, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Adam Scott and Jim Furyk. Three of the past five majors have been won by players using anchored putters.
The planned rule change will only outlaw the act of anchoring a putter to the body, not the long putters themselves.
The new rule is expected to be made official after a 90-day period where golf industry leaders can voice any concerns.
Whether this ruling ends one of the most heated debates in the sport or adds to it is yet to be seen.
The proposed rule change: 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.