USGA, R&A Move to Ban Anchored Strokes; Is It the Right Decision?

To no one’s surprise, the USGA and R&A, golf’s two governing bodies, announced a proposed ban of anchored strokes, a decision that takes dead aim at the increasingly popular, and in some quarters controversial, act of anchoring a putter to one’s belly, chest or chin.

The ban, which won’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2016, when the next edition of the Rules of Golf are published, doesn’t prohibit use of long or belly putters, but it will end their conventional use. The rule is expected to be finalized in the spring of 2013 following a 90-day comment period.

Even if the rule is finalized, it will have NO impact on the World Am until at least 2016.

Peter Dawson of the R&A said the decision wasn’t based on any evidence of improved performance attained via anchored strokes, but was intended to define what a golf stroke is going forward.

Players have been anchoring putters for decades (That’s “Lefty” himself in the photo), but usage has surged in recent years. Mike Davis of the USGA estimated the 15 percent of players used an anchored putting stroke this year,  and  three of the last five major championship winners (Keegan Bradley, Ernie Els and Webb Simpson) used the soon to be banned stroke.

The USGA and R&A did leave some wiggle room, allowing strokes like Matt Kuchar’s, where the putter is lodged against the forearm, deeming it a grip not a stroke.

The new rules will govern play at all levels of the game, from golf’s most prestigious events to recreational play.

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