The countdown is on: Only 25 months until the USGA’s ban on anchored strokes takes effect. I’m not a fan of the ban, but I’m done arguing about it. I, along with millions of golfers who saw belly and long putters as important — and legal — putting alternatives, have officially lost the anchor battle. Even if you agree with the USGA, and you think I’m nuts, it’s important to understand how the ban will affect your putting game.
Here’s what many have missed: Belly and long putters are, and will continue to be, legal, even after the ban is implemented on January 1, 2016. The USGA’s ruling deals only with anchored strokes, not the tools traditionally used to make them. So even though you’ll no longer be allowed to anchor your long or belly putter against your belly, chest or chin like you’ve done in the past, you can still keep it in your bag. This is important to remember, especially for golfers who have reaped the benefits of the elongated putter design (such as Adam Scott), and for those with bad backs.
My ban-busting advice? Secure your putter against your left forearm, which, if my knowledge of human anatomy serves me correctly, is below your elbow. This will provide an anchor-like feel without establishing a fixed point—the crux of the USGA ruling. Here’s how to do it:
1. Press the top of the grip against the inside of your left forearm (inset photo, right) while tucking your left elbow into the side of your torso. It should feel like the grip runs along the lifeline of your left hand all the way up your left forearm.
2. Set your right hand on the grip so that both of your palms face each other. This should level out your shoulders at address.
3. As you swing the putter back and through, keep the grip snug against your left forearm.
This technique is legal and very effective; it gives you a smooth, pendulum-like stroke. If it looks familiar, it’s because Matt Kuchar putts this way. With this technique, Kooch finished in the Top 25 in strokes gained by putting in 2013.
You still have two years to make the switch. Until then, anchor your belly or long putter however you see fit. But you’ll want to start experimenting with my anchor alternative soon. As with any swing change, you need sufficient practice in order to feel comfortable with it and for it to be effective on the course. If it doesn’t work, hang in there! I’ll continue to show you a variety of USGA-legal setup, grip and stroke options in future issues of Golf Magazine, from now until the ban takes place.