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.
--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.
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.”