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Sports :: Outdoor :: The Golf Club :: The Ban On The Anchored Putter

The Ban On The Anchored Putter

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Michelle Wie tried the long putter and the belly putter. I didn’t notice any improvement in her performance on the greens when she did.
Michelle Wie


The proposed ban on anchoring the putter is official.

This is not a proposed ban on the long putter or the belly putter. You can still use those putters but you can’t steady your hands by anchoring the club against your body.

What you have to do is swing the club.

The U.S Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, golf’s ruling bodies, are proposing a ban because anchoring the putter doesn’t produce a free flowing stroke. It’s a stroke that comes from using the body to anchor the putter, to stabilize the putter, before and while the putter comes into contact with the ball.

It is safe to say this proposed ban is all about the golf swing.

The anchored putter stroke is not a swing and that’s what the ruling bodies don’t like.

They didn’t like the crochet style of putting and they don’t like that the anchored putter because it “takes one of the potential frailties out of the stroke… We have to retain the skill and challenge inherent in golf”, as R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson put it. “Our objective is to preserve the skill and challenge. This is about defining what is a stroke.”

Under this proposed rule change, the putter cannot touch any part of your body. You can’t use your belly, chin, sternum, or your thumb against your sternum, to brace the putter.


Adam Scott
Adam Scott, one of many professionals who anchor their putter, says he isn’t concerned about having to make a change, if the rule becomes law.



What if you violate the rule? What is the penalty?

In match play, you forfeit the hole. In stroke play, you incur a two-stroke penalty.

How do you prove someone intended to break the rule?

What if someone accidentally brushes up against his or her belly or his or her shirt and it looks like a violation, what then?

The rules official will walk up to you and say,  “It looks like you violated the rule against anchoring the putter. Did you do that on purpose?  If you didn’t, and say so, there’s no penalty.

When will this take effect? Not until January of 2016.  Changes to the rules of golf are made only every four years so the ruling bodies in golf are giving golfers, mainly the professional golfers and competitive amateur golfers, a few years to learn how to use a regular putter or how to use the long putter without anchoring it.  That is the plan right now.


Mike Davis
United States Golf Association Executive Director Mike Davis


During a conversation with USGA Executive Director Mike Davis on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” program, Davis says if a compelling argument can be made that the rule should go into effect sooner, the ruling bodies will consider doing just that.

Here’s a compelling argument: If it’s a violation of the rules of golf now, how can you let anyone get away with it for the next three years.  It gives those who have perfected the use of the anchored putter a little leverage until 2016.



How many people do you know who use the anchored putter? Are they recreational players? Are they competitive amateurs or professionals? I find it hard to believe people are going to give up playing golf because they can’t anchor the putter.

Is this ban going to hurt the game? Will there be a mass exodus from the game because of the anchored putter ban? Many of those against the ban say that is their biggest concern. People are going to give up the game of golf in droves because they can’t use the anchored putter!

The PGA of America, which was consulted during the considerations made before the proposed ban was made, issued this statement:

"The PGA has long supported the USGA in its role of establishing the Rules of Golf governing play and equipment. We have representation on the Rules of Golf Committee and we have tremendous respect for the USGA in regard to their critical role in writing and interpreting the Rules of Golf. As our mission is to grow the game, on behalf of our 27,000 men and women PGA Professionals, we are asking them to seriously consider the impact this proposed ban may have on people's enjoyment of the game and the overall growth of the game." -- PGA of America President Ted Bishop

The R&A and USGA will take comments for three months on the proposed rule before it is approved.

Check out this video “Explaining The Anchoring Ban” with R&A Executive Director, Rules and Equipment Standards and Thomas Pagel, USGA Senior Director, Rules of Golf and Amateur Status. It’s very good.

Here is a link to the USGA proposal with that includes this diagram and further explanation:

The Rules
All the acceptable and unacceptable methods of using the long and belly putter are included here.




Just a Few
Recognize any of these guys? There are major champions among them.


The PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour said they will evaluate the proposed rule with their players and let us know their plans in a few months.

Technically, the professional Tours do not have to adopt the rules in their tournaments.

What about two separate sets of rules, one for the professional golfer and competitive amateur and the other recreational golfers?

USGA Executive Director Mike Davis says the USGA and the R&A are completely against “bifurcation” and won’t even consider it.



But truly, the bottom line lies here: recreational golfers don’t have to follow the rules of golf to the letter if they are playing a friendly game and tell their playing partners before the round starts. If a friend has an objection, then it’s not a friendly game – its competition!

Some ask this question. Why are you going after the people who anchor the putter to improve their playing performance when the golf ball and the size of the driver head are just two examples of equipment enhancing performance and making the game “easier”?
Is the USGA considering taking on the distance the golf ball flies?

What do I think of a ban on anchoring the putter?  I think it is about time. The R&A and the USGA should have put a stop to it years ago or given players exemptions on a case-by-case basis. But I thought there was rule against using a part of your body to brace the club.

There is no stigma attached to using the belly butter and shoving it up against your body. Remember when there was? There was, to my way of thinking, because anchoring the putter is a violation of the integrity of the game of golf. The putting stroke and the difficulty making a putt is part of the essence of the game.

I don’t suffer from the yips, so it’s easy for me to say that. And if I did, I’d get a long putter and figure out how to use it.

Remember, I’m all in favor of a set of rules for the elite professional and amateur golfer and a set of rules for the rest of us. I’m all for bifurcation. The USGA and the R&A are absolutely not in favor. I said that twice for emphasis on their opposition.

But for the future of this game, the long-term future of the game, this anchored putter bellyaching is much ado about nada when you consider the larger challenges the game faces.

Sitting down with Golf Channel Morning Drive co-hosts Gary Williams and Damon Hack, USGA Executive Director Mike Davis had a much more important message for us to soak in and it has to do with WATER and amount of LAND being used to play the game.

But why didn’t the USGA and the R&A act sooner against anchoring? Executive Director Mike Davis made it clear, in his mind, anchoring the putter wasn’t a big deal when a few people were doing it by using the long or belly putters. They were the few whose nerves were shot or who physically couldn’t bend because back or other physical issues. But today, instructors are teaching and advocating that the anchored method is the more efficient way to putt and teaching it to kids. That seems to be the straw that broke the camels’ back.


Guan Tianlang
14 year old Guan Tianlang just won the Asia-Pacific Amateur qualifying for the 2013 Masters. He used a belly putter.


Then there is that factor of detractors who wonder why the USGA is picking on the putter. Why not clamp down on the ball manufacturers and the distance the ball flies or the size of the driver club heads. That question was put to USGA Executive Director Davis by “Morning Drive’ co-host Gary Williams.

Davis did not address the ball or other equipment shapes or materiel issues directly. This is what he said:

“What is at the front of the plate is, we are looking very seriously on the long term sustainability of the game. So that includes making sure that the cost of the game. When you think, cost and time are the biggest barriers to the game, and they probably have been for centuries but we are looking at ways of saying “Can we help with the cost of the game?”

You know most of the cost of the game is maintaining that 150 acres that has to be dealt with on a daily basis.

We are looking at pace of play things.

But to your point on equipment. Whether you like where we are or not, we really have stopped. If you think back to 2002 when the R & A and the USGA put in the Joint Statement of Principles, distance has really stopped. You may not like where it has stopped, but it has stopped.

We have put more equipment legislation on in the last ten years than we have probably in the history of the game.

But we are really looking to the future to say:

Will golf at some point need to be altered just because of the environmental factors?

For instance water is becoming such a big issue.

We are seeing some parts of the United States where golf courses are being told it doesn’t matter how much you are willing to pay, you can’t get as much water next year.

So we are trying to develop grasses that are less water resistant.
We are on a campaign to talk about how to maintain golf courses that when you get off the fairways, lets have more brown conditions, more natural grasses.
Let’s not irrigate as much – so we talked about that firm and fast campaign.

Distance is another thing.

A logical person would say, distance is all relative. When the game was first invented, golf courses were roughly three thousand yards long. They have just grown to, now, you know, people building golf courses to 7500.

We are saying, for the 33 thousand golf courses in the world, we have to be concerned about the cost of maintaining them; we have to concerned about the environmental aspects – how much water is being used; fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides; and what about those golf courses that haven’t even been built yet.

Because what has happened with distance, and I’m not talking about game improvement clubs, I’m talking about strictly distance.

When you look at that and you think about that logically, whether A GOLF COURSE IS 6000 or 7500 yards long, as long as the architectural intent is still there, as long as people can play the golf course the way the architect wanted and enjoy it, it doesn’t really matter.

The more land that is needed, the more daily mowing is needed, and in theory, the longer it would take to walk the golf course so it just adds to the pace of play, the more water, fertilizer, fungicide. We are looking at those things and saying, if we think it is in the best long-term interest for the game – and we are not talking about the elite players here – we are talking about every golfer out there.

If we can make the game more cost efficient, if we can help with pace of play, maybe in some cases bring back the architectural integrity, listen, that is why the USGA and R&A are around. We need to be doing that.

No one should be listening today and saying “oh they are going to reduce distance”. That is not what I’m saying. What I am saying is that we are in the midst of a comprehensive qualitative study to really better understand what those factors are. We have some intuitions about it but we don’t really know factually what that would mean. So we really want to understand it.

And it has nothing to do with the elite game. It has everything to do with the three of us and the other 60 million people that are playing the game in the world.  We want to look to the future and say, “How can we help the game?”

So if you have a suggestion, comment or improvement and you’d like your voice heard, get in touch with the USGA in the next 90 days.

Here is the link to the entire Golf Channel Morning Drive interview with USGA Executive Director Mike Davis:



How about that architectural integrity issue Davis brought up. That reminds me of the other hot button topic in the game right now.


The 17th on the Old Course at St. Andrews
Work on the 17th on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Photo from my Twitter friend, Dave.


There are changes being considered and acted on for the Old Course at St. Andrews that has some people outraged. Architectural change is being proposed at the “home of golf”, the ancestral birthplace, of the game of golf and those proposed changes are not going over well with some of the freshest minds in the game. You’ll be hearing a lot about those changes to the Old Course on my golf show.


Looks very strange
This work on the 2nd on the Old Course at St. Andrews looks very strange.


Here’s a piece on the changes to St. Andrews from ESPN:



Time to get your tickets and make your reservations to be at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua on Maui. The pro am is January 3rd  with competition beginning on Friday, January 4th, and the tournament ends on Monday January 7th. You can get your tickets online at or on Maui, check with your local charity. They may be participating in the new program called Golf for Maui Charities.

The tournament allows youth age 18 and under to enter the tournament with a ticketed adult free of charge.

Military and their dependents will also be permitted onsite for free for the entire week.

After the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, The Sony Open in Hawaii, begins at Waialae Country Club on January 10 thru Sunday the 13th, 2013.

The Sony Open is the first full field event of the PGA Tour season. Tickets are available at all of the First Hawaiian Bank branches on Oahu.

We’ll see you at both events, where “The Golf Club” will be broadcast live.


At the end of this month, we’ll know the winner of “The Golf Club” annual anniversary flyaway contest. Be the 9th caller when it’s time to call in this month during the live broadcast of the show, and you’ll qualify to be in the drawing for the trip to San Francisco on Hawaiian Airlines, and 4 nights in the Palace Hotel San Francisco, a Luxury Collection Hotel.

“The Golf Club” is on the air on Oahu on KGU FM at 99.5 FM Saturday morning from 7am until 8:30am.

On Maui, you can listen on KONI FM, 104.7, on Kauai, KTOH 99.9 FM and in Hilo, on KPUA AM 670.

Prefer a podcast? Pick us up at iTunes or through our RSS Feed at On your smart phone? Get the StitcherRadio application and listen in. Streaming with no charge.

Welcome to the winter season. Hope it cools off soon.

Thank you for your Mana, and may you hit the sweet spot every time.



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DaveAndrews — Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Great article. I, for one, am opposed to the anchored putter ban, especially for amateur/recreational golfers. It is not "grow the game" friendly. The game is tough enough. If they can overlook the new technology in drivers, irons, and balls, they can certainly overlook the anchored putters. The new technology has certainly changed the game a lot more than anchored putters ever will.


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