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Tuesday
May212013

Anchoring Ban Official For 1-1-16: “The new Rule upholds the essential nature of the traditional method of stroke and eliminates the possible advantage that anchoring provides"

Calling this a "great day" for the governing USGA and R&A might be a bit strong as I'm not sure anyone wins in a saga like this (well, except maybe if you have a blog about the state of the game). No matter what side you fall on, the ability to hold off a surprising lack of support from the PGA of America and PGA Tour makes for an impressive victory, speaks to the ironclad approach by the USGA and R&A to this rule change and reasserts the governing bodies strength as they face several other looming issues.

Every time there seemed like a loophole or mistake in approach to the proposed anchoring ban, a bit of deeper digging revealed why they approached things the way they did. The case seems to have been very carefully considered and many counter arguments thought about in ultimately leading to a very disciplined approach by the governing bodies.

Consider...

--The lack of data supplied to make their case, which warranted criticism and at first glance seemed absurd, turned out to be a wise approach. We later realized this would have only picked on certain anchorers, fueling the fire and singling out people who have been playing by the rules and perhaps even prompting lawsuits.

--The timing of January 1, 2016 is not perfect, it's probably the perfect compromise between a shocking immediacy and letting anchorers hang around too long. Whether the PGA Tour goes a different path is up to them, but considering the drop in anchoring this year and the ability of time to heal most wounds, they might be wise to simply let the issue fade away.

--Not simply banning putters of a certain length turned out to be a brilliant move to blunt the arguments of those who need a long putter because of back or grip issues. They can still use a long putter, they just can't anchor.

And without further ado, For Immediate Release:

USGA AND THE R&A ANNOUNCE FINAL APPROVAL OF RULE 14-1B  THAT PROHIBITS USE OF ANCHORED STROKES

Governing Bodies Issue Report Explaining Their Decision Following Comment Process New Rule to Take Effect on January 1, 2016, Allowing for Transitional Period Belly-Length and Long Putters Remain as Conforming Clubs

Far Hills, N.J., USA and St Andrews, Scotland (May 21, 2013) – The United States Golf Association (USGA) and The R&A, golf’s governing bodies, today announced the adoption of Rule 14-1b of the Rules of Golf that prohibits anchoring the club in making a stroke. The new Rule will take effect on January 1, 2016, in accordance with the regular four-year cycle for changes to the Rules of Golf.

Rule 14-1b, which was proposed on November 28, 2012, has now been given final approval by the USGA and The R&A following an extensive review by both organizations. The decision to adopt the new Rule came after a comprehensive process in which comments and suggestions from across the golf community were collected and thoroughly considered.

The USGA and The R&A have prepared a detailed report to explain the reasons for the decision to adopt Rule 14-1b. The report explains the principles on which the Rules of Golf are founded, why freely swinging the entire club is the essence of the traditional method of stroke, and why anchoring is a substantially different form of stroke that may alter and diminish the fundamental challenges of the game. It points out that the Rule will still allow the use of belly-length and long putters and that a wide variety of types of strokes remain for players to use. The report concludes that the new Rule should not adversely affect participation in the game, that it is not too late or unfair to require players to comply with it and that it will remove concerns about any potential advantage that anchoring provides. It also makes clear that one set of Rules is essential to the future health of the game. The report, entitled Explanation of Decision to Adopt Rule 14-1b of the Rules of Golf, can be found at www.usga.org/anchoring or at www.RandA.org/anchoring.

“Having considered all of the input that we received, both before and after the proposed Rule was announced, our best judgment is that Rule 14-1b is necessary to preserve one of the important traditions and challenges of the game – that the player freely swing the entire club,” said USGA President Glen D. Nager. “The new Rule upholds the essential nature of the traditional method of stroke and eliminates the possible advantage that anchoring provides, ensuring that players of all skill levels face the same challenge inherent in the game of golf.”

Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A said: “We took a great deal of time to consider this issue and received a variety of contributions from individuals and organisations at all levels of the game. The report published today gives a comprehensive account of the reasons for taking the decision to adopt the new Rule and addresses the concerns that have been raised. We recognise this has been a divisive issue but after thorough consideration we remain convinced that this is the right decision for golf.”
 
The current Rule 14-1 of the Rules of Golf will be re-numbered as Rule 14-1a, and new Rule 14-1b will be established as follows:

14-1b Anchoring the Club
In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either “directly” or by use of an “anchor point.” 

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.

Rule 14-1b will not alter current equipment rules and allows for the continued use of all conforming golf clubs, including belly-length and long putters, provided such clubs are not anchored during a stroke. The new Rule narrowly targets only a few types of strokes, while preserving a golfer’s ability to play a wide variety of strokes in his or her individual style.

The January 1, 2016, timetable for implementation also provides an extended period in which golfers may, if necessary, adapt their method of stroke to the requirements of the new Rule.

David Rickman, Executive Director of Rules and Equipment Standards at The R&A, said: “This Rule change addresses the future and not the past. Everyone who has used an anchored stroke in the past, or who does so between now and January 1, 2016, will have played entirely within the Rules and their achievements will in no way be diminished.”

“The discussion around the Rule has been very helpful, and we appreciate that so many different perspectives were offered,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “We know that not everyone will agree with the new Rule, but it is our hope that all golfers will accept that this decision is reasoned and motivated by our best judgment in defining the sport and serving the best interests of the game.”

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Reader Comments (28)

Rah! Rah!
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
Think about all of the casual golfers we're going to lose!!!

Oh wait, they don't follow the rules anyway.

Now it's over. Time to move on. I'm going to go make toast in my driver head. Luckily it's still legal.
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris from DE
Here's hoping the PGA Tour sets this rule aside.
What a cat fight between two out of touch organizations that would be.
Come on Tim, stand up to them! Oh wait you are standing. My bad.
05.21.2013 | Unregistered Commentermdrgolf
Damn.
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Finally.

PGA Tour will follow.

Won't affect golf's "numbers" noticeably. Although it may increase the HCPs of a tiny few.
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTy's Ties
Maybe they can focus on important issues now.
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterUnderTheChin
About time!
05.21.2013 | Unregistered Commentermeefer
Brilliant.
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatthewM
I was pretty (lazily) agnostic about this whilst it appeared that old timers were prolonging their time on the Seniors Tour. It has become increasingly obvious in recent years that a decision of principle had to be made one way or another and when I read that Guang Tianlang has chosen to use an anchored long putter at the age of 14 it was obvious that the decision could not be put off for another moment. Deciding that an anchored stroke is not part of the game seems fair enough to me and, as Geoff says, a pretty well-chosen target for the rule.

Let's hope that this beds down OK in the professional and amateur games and that it proves to have been a successful trial for something bigger and more significant to the present and future of the game - the little white thing........
05.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterbs
It's a good start!
05.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterchico
LOL....listening to Mike & Mike on ESPN radio and they are reporting that "those putters (belly/broomstick) will be banned".

Guess they didn't get the message that "this is not an equipment rule" ;0)
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
You mean Mike and Mike haven't read the fine print?! I'm shocked!!!
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris from DE
"Good start" is right.

Now on to the little pill, please.
05.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterfyg
That really wasn't so hard after all. Now, maybe they will go after Wally's domesticated Pinnacle and its brethren. Hey, a kid can dream!
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Oops. What fyg said.
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
2nd law suit from VJ on it's way!
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterXiruluca
Golf isn't losing players or dissuading new players because of the anchored stroke method.

Courses are too long, too tight off the tee, with too much ankle-twisting hay to allow for a pace of play that accommodates work & family schedules.
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick
We can look forward to this rule being amended as a complaint on VJ's lawsuit. Since the suit is about "deep embarrassment" when some clown in the gallery yells "Cheater!", how will VJ know if he is talking about his antlers or his putter?
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJJ
Congratulations to all celebrating the Red Herring of the year for our game. While Rome burns, we can all take joy in the removal of such ghastly devices from this hallowed and storied sport.

Just keep thinking about this. Don't distract yourself with trivialities like hot balls and drivers (sorry, I forgot the party line- the playesr are more fit today than in previous years), the perceived need for longer courses, decreases in rounds played, course closures and all of that. Hey, let's all rejoice in taking care of that 10% of golfers who do something that doesn't "look" right or "feel" right. Huzzah. </sarcasm>
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPete the Luddite
Pete-dont know anyone who thought this was the most pressing issue in golf but that doesn't mean it shouldn't have been tackled.I look forward to the ball being next- but if changing the anchoring rule seemed controversial and difficult then we ain't seen nothing yet!!
05.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterchico
the belly thing never bothered me, never really seen one out in the real world in the hands of a casual golfer, and most casual golfers could care less about the rules or break them all the time anyway. This whole discussion was making a mountain out of a molehill and is typical of golf whiny nature. that being said its time for modify bifuricate some of the rules. Having no anchor for the pros and a ball that is shorter for the pros seems like a totally reasonable thing to do.
now fix the ball and the driver size please
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterT Money
>>
that being said its time for modify bifuricate some of the rules. Having no anchor for the pros and a ball that is shorter for the pros seems like a totally reasonable thing to do.
>>

But, based on the comments from Ponte Vedra and the announcement from Far Hills, if bifurcation were to occur it would the tour players who would continue to anchor.

(No, I don't think the tour will go their own way on this matter.)
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Carl-you are right-it will not happen.
05.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterchico
Good luck to the R&A and USGA ever getting any support from the PGA Tour re: equipment. Think they have used up all their goodwill with this one. What a waste.
LOL,

"Calling this a "great day" for the governing USGA and R&A might be a bit strong as I'm not sure anyone wins in a saga like this (well, except maybe if you have a blog about the state of the game)"


Way To Funny. But just finished work at my club and all the members who played ask us when we were going to return the long and belly putters because they are now banned. I think the USGA did not get the point across to average players that this is not an equipment rule and the new rule will be for all strokes.

They need more pictures of other strokes, like anchoring chipping or odd bunker shots were anchoring is not allowed to reminde people that this is not just a putting rule.
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark
Wait a minute Mark, I thought this was a "mainstream" issue -- is this not the case?

What % of your membership would you say anchors?
05.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Every one who owns a boat.
05.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth

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