USGA and R&A Officially Announce Ban on “Anchored Stroke”

Fred AltvaterContributor IIMay 21, 2013

Webb Simpson won the 2012 U.S. Open using a belly putter
Webb Simpson won the 2012 U.S. Open using a belly putter

The USGA and the R&A made it official on Tuesday morning, May 21, on their respective websites and at a press conference that they will add rule 14-1b to the official rules of golf effective Jan. 1, 2016.

The USGA and the R&A announced last November the proposed rule change to ban the use of the “anchored stroke.”

The USGA rule change states:

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.

Rule 14-1b will not alter current equipment rules and allows for the continued use of all conforming golf clubs, including belly-length and long putters, provided such clubs are not anchored during a stroke. The new rule narrowly targets only a few types of strokes while preserving a golfer’s ability to play a wide variety of strokes in his or her individual style.

The USGA and the R&A are the governing bodies of golf and monitor the rules to which the game adheres. Rulemakers felt that the recent rush to use long and belly putters adversely affect the free swing of a golf club and provide a potential advantage.

Teachers and instructors have been advising students to adopt the anchored style of putting. Using a fixed point to anchor the club helps to alleviate an uneven stroke caused by jumpy nerves.

A rise in the use of the “anchored stroke” by juniors at USGA- and R&A-sanctioned events was also cause for concern and the ruling bodies felt the time was now to make the rule change.

The PGA Tour has held meetings with their members and has made their concerns known to the USGA and the R&A about the rule change.

Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Adam Scott all won major championships using an "anchored stroke" while putting. Other professionals such as, Carl Pettersson and Tim Clark have used the long putter and "anchored stroke" for their entire careers.

Long putters have been used on the PGA Tour and in golf, in general, for over 30 years. 

At a time when golf manufacturers and golf courses struggle to find willing golfers to buy new equipment and pay greens fees, this decision would seem to have an adverse affect on the golf industry.

The USGA and the R&A felt this was the necessary time to act.

The next question becomes, will the PGA Tour and the Masters adopt this rule change for their sanctioned events?