So the USGA has decided to ban the anchor stroke. The new rule, 14-1b will be enacted January 1, 2016. Long putters will still be legal, but the stroke, whereby you anchor the butt of the club to your body will be against the rules. Players have been using this stroke for arguably over 40 years in different amateur and professional tournaments around the world. Many new players in the game today have grown up using this stroke. Tours throughout the world have major tournament champions that have won using the anchor stroke.
“We strongly believe that this rule is for the betterment of the game,” USGA President Glen Nager said. “Rule 14-1b protects one of the important challenges in the game — the free swing of the entire club.”
The announcement followed six months of contentious debate, and it might not be over.
The next step is for the PGA Tour to follow the new rule or decide to establish its own condition of competition that would allow players to anchor the long putters. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said in February the USGA and R&A would be “making a mistake” to adopt the rule, though he also has stressed the importance of golf playing under one set of rules.
“I think it’s really important that the PGA Tour — and all the professional tours — continue to follow one set of rules,” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “We have gotten very positive feedback from the tours around the world saying that they like one set of rules, they like the R&A and USGA governing those. So if there was some type of schism, we don’t think that would be good for golf.
“And we are doing what we think is right for the long-term benefit of the game for all golfers, and we just can’t write them for one group of elite players.”
The tour said in a statement it would consult with its Player Advisory Council and policy board to determine “whether various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions, and if so, examine the process for implementation.”
PGA of America President Ted Bishop, who had some of the sharpest comments over the last few months, also said his group would discuss the new rule — and confer with the PGA Tour — before deciding how to proceed.
“We are disappointed with this outcome,” Bishop said. “As we have said publicly and repeatedly during the comment period, we do not believe 14-1b is in the best interest of recreational golfers and we are concerned about the negative impact it may have on both the enjoyment and growth of the game.”
Whether you agree or disagree with the USGA decision, there is sure to be a lot of discussion over the next few years as players will continue to win with this method.