Golf will have a new rule come 2016, the anchored putting stroke will be banned from play despite the ban facing opposition from the PGA. Golf’s governing bodies, the United States Golf Association (USGA) as well as the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) voted to pass a ban on the anchored putting stroke, the choice method of putting for four of the past six major champions.
The ban involves the placement, or anchoring, of a long putter to one’s chest during one’s putting stroke. The method is supposed to create a steadier more accurate shot. However opposition from the PGA pointed out in the heated six months of debate on the issue that none of the top twenty ranked golfers in terms of putting on the tour use the technique. They also argued that if the anchored putting stroke actually created an unfair advantage for those that utilize it, more than the current minority of pros would take advantage.
Implementing a rule change such as this, the governing bodies of golf have for the first time tempted the PGA to stray from the traditional one rule book that applies to all golf leagues. The PGA can, and is in fact debating whether they should, ignore the approved ban and still allow the use of anchored putting by its members. Wide support for the use of anchored putting exists on the Professional Tour, so the move would make sense in that regard. However such a move appears to be unlikely as other professional golf organizations recognize the inherent need to keep golf under one encompassing set of rules. The LPGA has already stated that it has no intentions of ignoring the ban and will put uphold the rule come 2016, releasing the following statement “We recognize the need for an independent governing body to maintain the rules of the game. We trust in the ability and expertise of both the USGA and R&A to make the decisions that are in the best interests of the game.”
Recent major winners have utilized the stroke, something players feel has contributed to the ban. Web Simpson, Ernie Els, Adam Scott, and Keegan Bradley represent four of the past six major winners on the PGA and all utilized some form of an anchored putting stroke in their successful tournaments.
Golf’s governing bodies, the USGA and R&A compiled a 40 page response to the critics of upholding Rule 14-1b, the rule in question by the ban. During a press conference at USGA headquarters in Fair Hills, NJ after the decision, USGA President Glen D. Nager said “The new rule upholds the essential nature of the traditional method of stroke and eliminates the possible advantage that anchoring provides, ensuring that players of all skill levels face the same challenges inherent in the game of golf.”
Proponents of the ban argue that despite the ban not being favored by professionals and club managers, plenty of time exists between now and the 2016 start date for everyone to adequately prepare for the start of this ban. Anchored putting has been allowed since the invention of the long putter roughly two decades ago, so this is a major change in the golf landscape for players who have spent most of their golfing lives with this being a legal way to putt.
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