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Poll: Should The Governing Bodies Drop The Anchoring Ban?

Bernhard Langer's recent brush with anchoring at the U.S. Senior Open prompted a pre-round visit with rules officials from the USGA. There was also overwhelming outrage on social media and coverage from Fox Sports addressing concerns of a possible rules violation. The issue summed up here by Brandel Chamblee, who coverage this week may have prompted the latest response:

At the very least, Langer is taking things right up to the edge of the anchoring ban. At the worst, he's openly resisting the rule knowing that the genteel world of golf would never actually prosecute a player of his caliber.

This all prompted an unusual Friday news dump with statements from Langer, fellow Champions Tour long putter user Scott McCarron and the USGA. Here is what was said:

The "integrity" language here from the USGA would suggest that actually enforcing the rule is now almost impossible given the introduction of intent.  With this in mind and knowing there are seniors whose golfing lives were made miserable by not being able to anchor, perhaps it's time to drop a rule that will not be enforced?

The SI/ gang contemplated massaging or changing the rule in this week's discussion that included caddie John Wood.

Given the potential rules changes for 2019, should the governing bodies consider abandoning a rule that started in 2016 after much debate?

The poll and your votes please:

As part of the rules revisions, should the governing bodies drop the anchoring ban? free polls

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Reader Comments (46)

They should change it to the shortest club in the bag and put an asterisk behind Langer's wins
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterOliver
I voted "no." Poll running with almost even split early on.

If the goal is unquestioned conformity to the rule, then the rule should be changed as Oliver has stated.

Re: Bernhard: I would not favor an asterisk associated with Langer's wins.
The putter shouldn't have to be the shortest club, but it should be limited to less than say 38"...that is an arbitrary number I simply pulled from my head, but that seems to be the way most of the new rules have come about from the brain trust at the R&A and USGA.

With the amount of scrutiny Langer is under, I simply can't believe he is breaking the current rule. He has been around for too long without any questions about his integrity. The players themselves would be crucifying him if he was taking money from them, whereas Chamblee just needs something to scream about. I don't pay any attention to McCarron.
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBDF
Somewhere Del the Funk (aka DTF) is smiling. No one was more vocal and (now proven) accurate about the problems and unintended consequences surrounding the ban.

Maybe Del will make a celebrity post on this subject from the land of banned former shackers.....
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterConvert
If long putters matter, then ban them - based on club length. Anchoring is hard to define. To me , long putters do not matter. There have been many other club & ball enhancements that make a lot more difference.
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBud
No - the game is about skill, so we need to develop skill within the game again and stop relying on easy options that for the most part avoid this development.

If people do not wish to be know as golfers, then let them do as they wish, and if we have to call them anything what's wrong with 'players'.

Of course all this is done to achieve a lower score so is acceptable to many a player, however, Golfers play to promote skill and understanding, while players seek glory, money and being called winners at whatever cost, the game itself is immaterial, so will grasp at any opportunity if they feel it will aid in their victory.

Then some Golfers who love the game just call it 'cheating'.
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
I voted yes, but with the caveat that the putter should be no longer than the longest club in the bag, which is 48".

Harvey Pennick said that a golf stroke should be made with the hands together - or at least in close proximity. Holding the top of the club stationary and stroking with one hand is levering - it's not a golf stroke.

I have no problem with a belly putter. At least it looks like a proper golf stroke.
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHardy Greaves
God forbid these kinds of things are keeping us from growing the game.
Golf should just drop the USGA instead
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterC
Keep the anchoring ban, restrict the length or demand no "loose shirt" crap.
Langer is clearly using his thumb as a small anchor- it's literally pressing into his chest, not his shirt.
07.8.2017 | Unregistered Commenterjjshaka
A resounding NO vote that should involve a rule clean-up.

(Langer's thumb seems to be a slight anchor; McCarron's hand has a blanket effect that its ends could easily be against a 'chesty' individual.)

Then after the rule clean-up... get after the ball - doesn't have to be drastic... but just something to get the ball rolling so to speak.

07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn C
We see 360 yard drives regulalrly, obsoleting courses and obliterating records.
All this results in bastardizing/abandoning classic courses-or simply watching a hrbrid/2 iron followed by wedge fest if they try to react with rough and tight fairways..

and we're worried about anchoring?
a stupid rule.
Try being a club pro and enforcing that.

How many greens have been altered because of anchored techniques?

How many courses have been altered because of hot drivers and balls.?
Nearly all

A dose of common sense might help here.
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Warne
I'll try to stay off the soapbox, but really, the mess the USGA has made with respect to equipment regulation has no parallel. You couldn't screw it up more if you tried: balls that practically respond to voice commands, drivers that even I can hit 250 yards and so on. The purists will say the long putter ain't golf, but that horse left the barn so long ago. The hypocrisy of the anchoring ban (and its absolute unenforceability) in light of the ball, etc. once again makes the USGA look like Keystone Cops.

Drop the ban. Only a handful of pros used the long putters even when they were legal. No one, other than his fellow players and they're not complaining, gives a ratzass about what Langer does on a tour nobody watches. Go back to counting how many grains of sand a player can accidentally move during a backswing and agronomy research on how to grow hair on Mike Davis's empty head.

So there!
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPops
Here is what makes us who love the game mad about this:

Friday night news dumps are known for being a shady way of disclosing news, we all know the USGA botched the rule-botched how? The language, the rule, here we are with two players embroiled in controversy b/c of a poorly written rule on a hot hot topic by a ruling body whose botched everything in the last 30 years and we're supposed to say um ok yea nothing here, move along. Looking back, when the USGA was crafting language, is this what they wanted (Langer/McCarren)?

Then there is the part of, why would those two, Langer/McCarren choose to push the rule to the edge, why? Push it to the edge and this is what you get.

IF you have to come out with a statement that the two players are not anchoring/breaking rule....court of public opin differs USGA, this is far from over.
Why wasn't the R&A involved with this re-write?
I am so sick of the USGA controlling EVERYTHING about golf.
The R&A are much smarter than the USGA!
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterZimmer
Everybody loves to bash the USGA. They never had to write a set of rules. I'd love to see a total ban on everything that looks remotely like anchored putting. It's just not easy.

If simply we limited all clubs including putters to, say, 44.5" (which would be seen as punitive, by the diminutive gals on the LPGA tour who hit 46" drivers), there would be old guys on the Champions tour who stuck the butt of 39" putters into their bellies and anchored that way.

If somebody wanted to write a rule dictating that a putter had to be shorter than your shortest club, I'd say that the notion is sensible but the devil is in the details. How do you write that rule?

I am intrigued by a rule that somehow banned a split grip (mechanically, as part of the club, and also physically on the part of the player splitting the position of his hands), I'd again be interested in how that rule would be written.

As for anybody who says that banning long putters and anchored strokes is somehow arresting the growth of the game... Come on. If you don't like the USGA's Rules, then don't follow them. Play whatever game you want to play. Buy some Bandit balls, hop in your cart, and play any sort of game you want to play. You hate the USGA? Fine. Do what you want; who's stopping you?
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
Make it the shortest club in the bag.

Ban the fat grip, too.

If you can't putt, tough stuff, you have my sympathy.

Next stupid question, please ...
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGolfFan
My problem is allowing all the variations of hands on the club and that goofy Kuchar stroke, but the other anchoring is bad? Just make it your hands must be together left hand high for righthanded players (opposite for left) and the putter end cannot touch any body or clothing.

Now, at least all putting variations are finished. No reason to punish the anchors and not all the stupid claw, left hand low, arm anchor crap.
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMJR
Because two guys push the envelope the rule should be removed? Tighten it up by requiring the elbow to be non anchored and mandating clearance from the body of at least 1 inch.
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Zimmer- seems like it was the R&A that let the equipment go uncontrolled. The R&A didn't care for a clubsize or COR limit (USGA did) and they used to allow for smaller (longer) balls as opposed to the USGA-. So maybe it is the R&A that is mostly responsible for the mess we are in now????
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterRoger
Hardy Greaves has got it right. Those that putt with a method similar to Messrs Langer and McCarron are not actually making a stroke as per the Definition in the current Rules of Golf which clearly states that - A "stroke" is the forward movement of the club......
Strictly speaking this would outlaw any method that attempted to hold one end of the club in a stable position while moving the other in a pendulum like motion.
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJKL
Abso-fricking-lutely! It was a poorly thought out rule done for no other reason than because stuffed shirts at the top of both governing bodies didn't like the way it looking. They never had any statistical back for the ban. It's also laughable that they went after long-putters (make no mistake, it isn't an anchoring ban *cough* Matt Kuchar *cough*) when they A) are completely ok with tree trunk thick putter gribs B) have let all the equipment that does matter get way out of hand.
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterDrBunsenHoneydew
Geoff - For the loyal followers, would you mind grabbing a long putter, anchoring it up against your shirt - about 1/2 inch from your chest - and having someone take a few pics? I feel like the only still images we get from this are ones posted by Brandel. It might be interesting to see what it looks like without bias. Thoughts?
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Exactly. This is an aesthetic thing for the USGA, not unlike their very prompt reaction to the fit Bob Jones threw when he saw Sam Snead using his croquet putting stroke at the Masters sometime in the 1960s, The aesthetics of the destruction of the practice of golf that had remained consistent for roughly 70 years up to 2000 by the trampoline-faced titanium driver and the domesticated Pinnacle? Nothing to see here, move along. Hootie Wood on the 11th and the 4th tee soon to be moved into the second fairway and the 5th tee behind what used to be Berckman's Road? 13th tee soon to be a hike from the 12th green because it's in the middle of Augusta Country Club? Natural evolution, nothing more. These guys are FIT!
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Hey, no club could afford changing all their greens because of the unfair advantage the long putter gives a few holdouts. We are still trying to keep up with changing all our tees due to the ball and now this.
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterOdd job
The current rule is poorly written. It is unenforceable. But the ban was 30 years too late. Like others have said, there are more important issues. BL and SM are mocking the regulators, which is fine. They have had it cleared by those in charge. They can sleep at night knowing they set an example for golfers everywhere.
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMunihack
@Odd job that is very funny!
07.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGolden Tee
There is so much that can be said about this. But the bottom line is the ruling bodies (particularly the USGA) is a joke. If you make a rule enforce it! Langer and McCarron have simply disregarded the rule and the response is "oh that's not their intent". Sorry honey - I know we had a rule about sleeping with other people but I didn't intend to sleep with the secretary at the office, it just happened by accident - so everything I'd good right?

The USGA is pathetic. There is an old saying maybe someone should tell Mike Davis...Lead, follow, or get the fu*k out of the way. Either have a rule and enforce it or lose the rule.

As for Langer and McCarron, well never under estimate a desperate man. Neither would finish in the top 25 of an event ever again if they couldn't anchor and in a last desperate effort to stay relevant and grow those bank accounts they are willing to throw away every shred of credibility they have ever earned.
07.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSaltwater golfer
Golf needs every encouragement to grow let the players have fun no one wants the trauma of the zips.
Only a hand full of tour players used the method which is obviously impossible to police, if you limit the length of the putter will you then limit the length of the driver ? it would be ok for guys 5 10, but what about guys 6 6
David, the length of a driver is limited to 48 inches. Check your rule book.

I don't believe for a second that a single person has given up the game because of the anchoring ban. And if someone comes on here and tells me that they have a friend who quit playing because of the anchoring ban, I can pre-emptively tell you that your friend is an idiot. Give up competitive, sanctioned golf? Sure -- if your putting is that fragile, ok, don't display it in a tournament. But recreational golf that nobody but yourself cares about? Please. News flash! It's illegal to give yourself three footers, too! Has that been driving the masses away?

Enforce it, or re-write it as suggested above. Either way, stop embarrassing yourself, USGA.
Pops, Jeff Warne, and Odd job all understand how woefully short the USGA has lived-up-to their own mission statement:

"The USGA promotes and conserves the true spirit of the game of golf as embodied in its ancient and honorable traditions. It acts in the best interests of the game for the continued enjoyment of those who love and play it."

The anchoring rule, like the lack of ball & club control, reflects the reality of the USGA's passion: ...working in the interest of the golf equipment industry.

Worst of all they treat the golfing public like morons -- spinning tales about how driving distance is not out-of-control. Then, the host US Opens at 7500+ yard courses.
07.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPutmedownforasix
I need help understanding where some people are coming from when bringing the USGA's lack of concern for distance gains into questions regarding the anchoring ban. Should we just get rid of every rule until the ball is addressed? I agree that the USGA seems to have strange priorities, but we can care about global overpopulation and still go see the new Spiderman movie, right?
Wow am I surprised how many so far have said Yes against those who have said NO - I wonder out of those who votes yes - how many are real golfers who use no aids i.e. carts, distance aids, and info from Caddies. I would also as the No's.

Then as some have said the real issue is the lack of control not just of ball or clubs but that of technology - for without that we lose many a great design each year because technology has out distanced the great course of old. These old courses had the best Holes ever designed, wonderful hazards as well as sand traps (we should not confuse a bunker as the sole hazard, it represents just one of many). Designs that date back to the mid 1800's through to the 1890''s are being lost because of the pure ignorance of the Governing Body and in this the blame is squarely at the feet of the R&A - for they have failed for the best part of a century to get to grips with technology starting from the early days of the Haskell Ball.

Perhaps Geoff, if he does want what's good for golf, n=may hold another vote on the R&A, i.e. should they be reformed or at least accountable for their decisions, because unless we can move the R&A to start thinking Golf we will never have anything resolved.

And anyway, as far as this vote - why can't golfers just be honest - its bloody cheating, you don't hold your club that way if you are Teeing off, well perhaps I stand corrected and some do!

So to try to resolve this vote it seems clear you fall into one of these three categories – just how honest are you re your game?
A – Golfer
B – Player
C – Cheat
07.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
Saltwater Golfer nailed it.

Langer should be above what he is doing, but I guess $$$ and trophies are more important to him than his character.
07.9.2017 | Unregistered Commenterfyg
The USGA doesn’t need to ban the long putter.

Firstly, when the USGA incorporated the word “intent” into the rule, they instantly forgave authority to enforce the rule. Not a good move. Any law or rule that isn’t enforceable is useless. If enforcement isn’t going to be followed-up, don’t have the rule at all. This is the point that Brandel Chamblee made and he’s 100% correct, “intent” can be played as a “get-out-of-jail” card. Experienced PGA Tour players know how to use the rules to their advantage. “Intent” needs to be removed in order to close the loophole.

Secondly, the USGA should expand the wording of rule 14-1b to include, ”it is incumbent for each player to not appear to be anchoring the club against their body with any golf stroke. The player must clearly show space between, the player’s golf club, hand or forearm, and the player’s body when making a stroke that could appear as anchoring.”

Thirdly, the USGA and/or the PGA Tour Official need to dole out some penalties if a player cannot show space between the player’s club, hand or forearm and the player’s body during the stroke.

Problem solved!
07.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterZokol
Tremendous Slouch -- here is where I am coming from: Controlling the distance of ball & club are critical to golf's stewardship -- dwarfing the importance of anchoring and tweaks to rules. Baseball, football, hockey, basketball...have control of the equipment, especially at the competitive levels, why can't golf?

The USGA insists on painting golf's back porch...while golf's house is on fire.
07.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPutmedownforasix

If the R&A were involved with all of these issues, the problems would be solved. The USGA should not be writing the rules!
07.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterZimmer
As it currently stands. the anchoring ban is a joke on the Champions Tour, and the USGA's statement on Langer is an insult to our intelligence. Either enforce the rule, replace it with a restriction on the maximum length of the putter, or abandon all standards and make an absolute mockery of putting skill by allowing all putting methods, including pool cue and side-saddle. Meanwhile, I've lost some respect for Langer.
07.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGreg
I've asked this question everytime I get the chance, with no answer. I keep hearing how anchoring doesn't really help drop more putts so why ban it -- Well, if it doesn't help then why do it and why does it matter that anchoring is banned then?

I played with a guy who kept marking his ball on the green wrong. My playing partner called him on it after the round. The guys response it's only an inch so what does it buddy gave the same type of response as above. If it doesn't matter then why do it !
07.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatt A
@Zimmer, the R&A is involved -- the Rules are written jointly by The R&A and the USGA.
07.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson

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