Anchored putters, your time may be up.
The USGA will announce its final decision on whether to ban anchored putting -- in other words, belly putter and long putters that are "anchored" against the body -- at a news conference Tuesday at USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J. The 8 a.m. press conference will be broadcast live on Golf Channel. The USGA will also provide a live webcast of the press conference here.
In November, the USGA and the R&A proposed a rule change to ban anchored putting strokes after three of the previous five major champions used either belly putters or long putters, including Keegan Bradley [right] at the 2011 PGA Championship. After the USGA and R&A proposed to ban anchored putting, Adam Scott won the Masters with a long putter in April. (The R&A -- the Royal & Ancient Golf Club -- administers the game outside the United States and Mexico.)
The proposed rule change has been controversial; the PGA Tour and the PGA of America have both told the USGA that they are against the proposed change. However, the European Tour, the LPGA and several prominent former and current players -- including Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer -- support the ban.
In a written statement in November, the USGA executive Mike Davis said that anchored putting is at odds with the essence of the game:
“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.”
Supports of anchored putting have argued that the rule change is not fair to players who use anchoring, which has been legal for 30 years, that the ban would limit the enjoyment of recreational players, and that anchored putting is not an advantage.
USGA do not appear to have changed their mind. In an interview in the June issue of Golf Magazine, Davis defended the proposed rule change.
"We weren't trying to hurt anybody," Davis said. "It's a divisive issue and it's been divisive ever since the long putter has been around. We're simply trying to clarify it and put it to bed."
If the USGA and R&A adopt the rule change, then it would most likely take effect in the next scheduled rules update: Jan 1. 2016. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has declined to say whether the PGA Tour would go along with the USGA and ban anchored putting on the PGA Tour. Photo of Keegan Bradley at the 2013 Byron Nelson Championship (Getty Images).