Skip to main content

"Anchored" putting method to be banned from 2016

updated 3:11 PM EST, Wed November 28, 2012
American star Phil Mickelson briefly used a
American star Phil Mickelson briefly used a "belly" putter on the PGA Tour but abandoned the idea after mixed results.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Anchored" putting method to be banned by golf's rule makers
  • Three of the last five majors have been won by players using "belly" putters
  • The R&A and USGA announce changes in joint statement
  • Threat of legal action over the proposed changes

(CNN) -- The controversial method of putting whereby the club is "anchored" to a player's belly or another part of the body is to be banned from 2016, golf's law makers announced Wednesday.

The move follows victories for Keegan Bradley in last year's U.S.PGA Championship, his fellow American Webb Simpson at this year's U.S. Open and the triumph by South African veteran Ernie Els at the 2012 British Open.

All three players were using "belly" or "long-handled" putters with the club fixed on their midriff while putting out on the greens and it has been argued that they gained an unfair advantage using this approach.

The decision has been supported by 14-time major winner Tiger Woods. "I believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling nerves," he told his official website.

Belly putter changes proposed
The rise of the 'Belly Putter'

"Having it as a fixed point is something that's not in the traditions of the game.

"We swing all the other 13 clubs. I think the putter should be the same," added the former World No.1.

Claude Harmon, swing coach to Els, questioned why the decision had been made now despite belly putters being around for many years.

"I don't think it is the miracle cure that those in the media are making out," he told CNN. "Remember, the No.1 player in the world (Rory McIlroy) does not use a long putter, or the majority of those in the top ten," he added.

McIlroy, who won this year's U.S.PGA title and was top money winner on both the European and PGA Tours, later tweeted his approval of the decision.

"Fully agree with the anchoring ban," he said.

"Better image for the game of golf, skill and nerves are all part of the game. Level playing field in '16" the Northern Irishman added.

In unveiling their proposed changes, The Royal & Ancient (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA) said they would "consider any further comments and suggestions from throughout the golf community."

There have been reports that leading players and club manufacturers could take legal action against the rule changes.

We swing all the other 13 clubs. I think the putter should be the same
Tiger Woods

"Throughout the 600-year history of golf, the essence of playing the game has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball," USGA executive director Mike Davis said in the joint statement issued with the R&A.

"Our conclusion is that the Rules of Golf should be amended to preserve the traditional character of the golf swing by eliminating the growing practice of anchoring the club."

The amendments, which would come into force on January 1, 2016, do not mean belly or long-handled putters are banned, but it would be hard to see a use for them without the "anchoring" method.

"We believe we have considered this issue from every angle but given the wide ranging interest in this subject we would like to give stakeholders in the game the opportunity to put forward any new matters for consideration," added R&A chief executive Peter Dawson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:47 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
If golf has a reputation for being a bit stuffy, then the Bryan brothers and their trick shots are a much-needed blast of fresh air.
updated 8:18 AM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
Not many people make the leap from teenage market trader to golf pro and fashion entrepreneur, but that's just what Ian Poulter has done.
updated 6:29 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014
"Sleep, as far as mental and physical recovery goes, has never been more important ..." says sport sleep coach Nick Littlehales.
updated 5:24 AM EST, Tue November 4, 2014
Joe Miller is devouring his second steak of the day and the clock has barely nudged 2pm. You need lots of fuel to smash a drive 474 yards.
updated 10:49 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
There have been many dark days for Oliver Wilson, but golf's unluckiest loser is finally riding an upward swing of his career roller coaster.
updated 12:48 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
They dress like it's the 1930s and they swing antique equipment that eschews cutting-edge technology -- this is hickory golf.
updated 12:09 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
CNN's Living Golf focuses on women's golf, charting the growth of the sport from royal pastime to multi-million dollar machine.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
"I don't know how to paint happy," says golf's poster girl Michelle Wie. "I think it releases a lot of the darker feelings in me."
updated 8:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Phil Mickelson of the United States talks during a press conference after the United States were defeated by Europe after the Singles Matches of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 28, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland.
If you're a U.S. golf fan, or Tom Watson, look away now.
updated 7:18 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
A ban on uploading social media pictures from the course at Gleneagles was dropped for the Ryder Cup.
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
A spot of shopping, the odd spa day and some serious flag waving. Welcome to the life of a Ryder Cup WAG.
updated 9:01 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Tom Watson has learned plenty in the 21 years since he was last U.S. Ryder Cup captain, but social media is proving to be problematic.
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Patriotism will reach fever pitch when the USA and Europe collide in golf's Ryder Cup ... and it looks like Rickie Fowler has let it go to his head.
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Pressure is inescapable in the cauldron of Ryder Cup competition -- pressure and ping pong.
updated 7:50 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Millions of golf fans were watching on television with great anticipation. All Martin Kaymer could think about was getting his phone out.
ADVERTISEMENT