ATLANTA – Golf’s rulemakers Tuesday banned anchored putting strokes, a technique that has been used by players to win four of the past six major professional tournaments and drawn both support and opposition throughout the sport.
The outlawing of a stroke in which the player’s putter rests against the body to create a pendulum-like swing will begin Jan. 1, 2016, the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club said in a statement.
While the proposed rule is intended for all players, the U.S. PGA Tour, the world’s top professional circuit, hasn’t yet said if it will adopt the ban.
The new rule, known as Rule 14-1b, will not alter current equipment rules and allows for the continued use of all conforming clubs, including long-handled and belly putters, provided they are not anchored to the body.
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, R&A chief executive officer Peter Dawson said in the statement.
We recognize this has been a divisive issue but after thorough consideration we remain convinced that this is the right decision for golf.
The U.S. PGA Tour said in a statement that it will review the ban and discuss it with its Player Advisory Council and Policy Board members over the next month before issuing any comment.
Mike Harris, PGA professional at Brookwood Golf Club, doesn’t like the ruling and doesn’t think long putters are a growing problem.
We have a small percentage of players that use it but not very many, Harris said. I’ve had people try it over the years but no one really stuck with it. If it’s so good, everyone would be doing it.
It’s something you have to work on and practice on and commit to it. I think it’s a bad ruling. I don’t see a huge thing with it as far as changing the game of golf.
Drew Imel, a recent graduate of IPFW, who will soon turn pro, used a belly putter in the U.S. Amateur last year. But, even though he liked it, he saw the writing on the wall and quit using it.
I figured they were going to outlaw it, so after the amateur I switched, Imel said. Why get good with something if you won’t be able to use it in three years? I think it’s going to change a lot.
With my belly putter, I would have a different grip on there every few weeks and at times I didn’t even putt with it anchored to my belly. I don’t know how they’ll enforce knowing if it’s anchored or not moving forward.
Keegan Bradley became the first player to use a so-called belly putter to win one of golf’s four Grand Slam events when he captured the 2011 PGA Championship.
Australia’s Adam Scott won the Masters in April using a putter that he anchored against his chest.
Tianlang Guan, a 14-year-old Chinese amateur, became the youngest player to make the 36-hole cut at the Masters while using a similar stroke.
In 2012, 15 percent of professional golfers used anchored putters, up from 6 percent from 2006 through 2010, the two groups said when disclosing the proposed ban in November.
The U.S. PGA Tour had opposed the ban, while the European PGA Tour had said it would support the decision to outlaw the stroke.
Justin A. Cohn of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.