Far Hills, N.J. — The United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club have announced a rule change prohibiting anchored strokes.
In essence, players will not be allowed to place the shaft of long putters against their bodies while making a stroke.
The two governing bodies in golf said the new rule, first proposed in November 2012, will take effect as of January 2016 in accordance with the regular four- year cycle for changes to the rule book.
Rule 14-1b was given a lengthy review by the USGA and R&A after comments and suggestions from across the golf community were collected and thoroughly considered.
“Having considered all of the input that we received, both before and after the proposed rule was announced, our best judgment is that Rule 14-1b is necessary to preserve one of the important traditions and challenges of the game — that the player freely swing the entire club,” said USGA President Glen D. Nager in a joint statement with the R&A. “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 challenge inherent in the game of golf.”
Long putters can still be used, but they must be swung without the aid of anchoring, which provides a hinge effect.
“We took a great deal of time to consider this issue and received a variety of contributions from individuals and organizations at all levels of the game,” said R&A chief executive Peter Dawson. “The report published today gives a comprehensive account of the reasons for taking the decision to adopt the new rule and addresses the concerns that have been raised. We recognize this has been a divisive issue, but after thorough consideration we remain convinced that this is the right decision for golf.”
The new rule reads as follows:
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.
The PGA Tour was not in favor of the rule and issued a statement on Tuesday.
“We would like to thank the USGA for providing the opportunity for input and suggestions relative to Rule 14-1b over the last several months,” the PGA Tour statement read. “During that time, various questions were raised and issues discussed. We will now begin our process to ascertain whether the various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions and, if so, examine the process for implementation.
“In this regard, over the next month we will engage in discussions with our Player Advisory Council and Policy Board members.
“We will announce our position regarding the application of Rule 14-1b to our competitions upon conclusion of our process and we will have no further comment on the matter until that time.”
Four of the last six major champions have used long putters, including 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott.
The LPGA will comply with the decision:
“The LPGA has consistently conducted our official events in accordance with the Rules of Golf as established by the USGA and the R&A. 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.”
“The USGA provided ample time and opportunity for us to not only educate our players, but also to solicit input, concerns and feedback surrounding Rule 14-1b. While we know that not every one of our members is in favor of the rule change, the LPGA will continue to respect and follow the Rules of Golf which includes the implementation of Rule 14-1b in January of 2016.”