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Lorne: "The one and only relevant question: Is anchoring a stroke of golf?"

As the bickering over the anchoring ban turns political, Lorne Rubinstein tries to get us thinking about the heart of the issue: is it a stroke or not?

This seems to me to be an argument about that cloudy and also dreamy subject of “growing the game.” That’s the new buzz phrase in golf. The PGA of America and Golf Canada, to cite two national organizations, are always going on about “growing the game,” and if that means changing the game, or at least one important aspect of it, so be it. They may be interested in growing the game, but maybe they don’t care about considering the central and fundamental question of whether anchoring is a stroke of golf.

This all leads to irrelevancy number two, which is that anchoring has been around for 30 or more years, and it has, in much more limited numbers, and so why ban it now? Phil Mickelson has said he doesn’t think anchoring should be part of the game, but that it’s too late to ban it. Why should that be? If it’s wrong, it’s wrong.

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Reader Comments (47)


I am not sure why the chart (which I have not seen or at least recently) is in conflict with the written rule at least to the way I read it (which may be incorrect). But it seems like the written words are prettty straightforward.

"Note 1: The club is anchored 'directly' when the player intentionally holds the club or a gripping hand in contact with any part of his body, except that the player may hold the club or a gripping hand against a hand or forearm.

"Note 2: An 'anchor point' exists when the player intentionally holds a forearm in contact with any part of his body to establish a gripping hand as a stable point around which the other hand may swing the club."

Do you have a link to the Heimlich chart? I tried just a quick google and didn't find it.

Given what you wrote, you are very correct. It seems like it has holes. I remember hearing Mike Davis go through it on Golf Channel and it made sense. I understood the club could be anchored to the forearm but didn't think a forearm could be against the body.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim
The Heimlich Anchoring Ban Chart for those that of you that have not seen it:

usga (dot) org/rules/Proposed-Rule-14-1b-Infographic/
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF

Thanks for the link. I am having trouble calling that one up for some reason. Will keep trying.

Take a look at the Youtube video link in this Golf Digest article. It has Pagel and the R&A guy discussing strokes. I might just be mis-understanding your scenario.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Thank you. Link finally worked for me. Very strange. Forearms held against body and 1 or both elbows braced against body are legal in diagrams. VS An 'anchor point' exists when the player intentionally holds a forearm in contact with any part of his body to establish a gripping hand as a stable point around which the other hand may swing the club." No wonder why I am not a lawyer!! There must be a nuance I am missing.

Thanks for the link.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim
The nuance is in the Golf Digest link in the YouTube video and it starts at 2:22.

I would like to hear why forearms to the body are ok (I am sure Davis talked about it in his Golf Channel things months ago).

I am so glad I don't put other than conventionally and am so glad I am not a rules official or rules maker.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim
"Growing the game"???
I find it exceptionally hard to believe people will leave the game in any significant number because of the anchoring ban. Really, are people going to give up the game because it's tougher to putt? If that was the case people have been leaving for years as average green speeds increased and putting became more difficult. The game was bloody difficult when I learned to play, wooden drivers, crappy irons and balls that spun like crazy. But my friends and I took it up with passion. It's a difficult game and I am not very good at it but I love it more each year.
What I find amusing is that they let the genie out of the bottle by not enforcing the obvious rule violation in the first place and now they want to enforce it. Congrats but perhaps too late. The players who anchor should not have a difficult time admitting it violates the rules, it really is not unclear.
We now have longer balls, huge drivers and beautiful courses, almost everywhere in North America. The equipment guys were supposed to make the game easier for us and that would grow the game. I guess that's not working.
But wait a minute, the economy is still in the toilet, golf costs continue to increase or in many cases remain stagnant. Their is something fundamentally wrong with the supply and demand curve in this business. I think looking for golf to grow during a prolonged recession in the west may be a tad optimistic. But when the economy does recover, how can we make the game more appealing?
Worldwide I believe the game is growing, although I could be proven wrong. China and the rest of Asia are taking up the game.
If we want to grow the game in North America, we need to discover and address the core issues. I believe costs and time are the two biggest obstacles to growth of the game. Six hour rounds on 7000 yard courses are two fundamental issues creating the problem.
If we just want to make the game easier, we can change more equipment rules so everyone can shoot par or better. 600cc drivers, larger balls, bigger holes, lasers on putters, whatever works. Perhaps that's a slippery slope?
But on these issues, the game's key stakeholders are fundamentally opposed to each other. Equipment companies want more sales which is primarily promoted by promising more distance, which drives up costs. The governing bodies seem powerless or clueless. Is it ignorance or apathy? They don't seem to know and don't seem to care.
What does the game need to look like to thrive? If we must make changes, so be it. Provided we have a lot of confidence in the research behind those changes. But right now the governing bodies and equipment makers look like the US Congress on steroids. Completely disfunctional at addressing fundamental issues. The anchoring ban is not a important issue. Full stop.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKG
I have always said that I have no problem with a player anchoring his putter against his body, if he hits all his other shot with the club anchored against his body. That would be his golf stroke. Just pick a golf stroke and stay with it. These schizoid players that have two different strokes should be banished. They're cheating. You are only allowed one stroke in life.
02.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGarland

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