Golf rewrites rulebook to ban 'anchored' putters from 2016

 Adam Scott won the Masters in April using an anchored putter that he held close to his chest

Story highlights

  • Golf's governing bodies ban use of anchored putters from start of 2016
  • Adam Scott used such a club to win the 2013 Masters, continuing a trend
  • USGA and R&A say anchored putters are not in traditional understanding of golf swing
  • U.S. PGA Tour will decide whether to incorporate the ban in its tournaments

Golf's governing bodies have ruled that the use of controversial anchored putters will be banned from 2016, following several months of consultation that drew strong U.S. opposition to the planned change.

The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the R&A on Tuesday ratified the decision by changing golf's rulebook, despite formal complaints from the U.S. PGA Tour and the PGA of America.

Professional golfers now have until January 1, 2016 to adapt their putting style to comply with the new regulations.

Adam Scott was the latest major winner to use an anchored putter -- where the top of the club rests on the belly or another body part -- on his way to a sensational playoff victory at the Masters in April.

American Keegan Bradley was the first player to capture a major using a long putter at the 2011 PGA Championship, with compatriot Webb Simpson, winner of the 2012 U.S. Open, and last year's British Open victor Ernie Els of South Africa following suit.

Read: Why Scott's win creates 'unease' in golfing world

Golf's global rule-makers explained in a statement: "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.

"In adopting Rule 14-1b, the USGA and The R&A have concluded that freely swinging the entire club is integral to maintaining the traditions of the game and preserving golf as an enjoyable game of skill and challenge.

Belly putter changes proposed
Belly putter changes proposed


    Belly putter changes proposed


Belly putter changes proposed 02:58
The rise of the 'Belly Putter'
The rise of the 'Belly Putter'


    The rise of the 'Belly Putter'


The rise of the 'Belly Putter' 04:29

"The essence of the traditional method of golf stroke involves the player swinging the club with both the club and the gripping hands being held away from the body.

"The concept of intentionally immobilizing one end of the golf club against the body ... is a substantial departure from that traditional understanding of the golf swing."

Before introducing the ban, the USGA and the R&A first wanted a three-month period for comments to be made amid strong opposition from the U.S. PGA Tour and the PGA of America.

In response to the ban, the U.S. PGA Tour said it acknowledged the decision and thanked the USGA for hearing its voice during the long discussions.

It added that it would now consider whether to implement the ruling during competitions under its jurisdictions on U.S. soil.

The PGA of America said it was "disappointed with this outcome" but acknowledged the openness of the forum.

"We do not believe 14-1b is in the best interest of recreational golfers and we are concerned about the negative impact it may have on both the enjoyment and growth of the game," it said in a statement, adding that its board will meet in late June to "decide how best to proceed."

The European Tour, the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour have all supported the new regulation.

World No. 1 Tiger Woods had also backed the ban, with the 14-time major winner calling for the ruling to be implemented "as soon as possible."

The use of "belly" or "long-handled" putters fixed to the body has sparked debate in golf for the last two seasons.

The sport's governing bodies accepted that their decision won't please every player who takes to the green using such a club.

"The anchored method of stroke has been a subject of controversy within the golf community for quite some time," the joint statement said.

"Many individuals and organizations feel strongly about the anchoring issue, and there is no single outcome that will please all."

Meanwhile, Europe's Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley announced Tuesday that he will have three wildcard selections for next year's match against the United States at Gleneagles, Scotland.

That will mean nine automatic places are on offer through qualifying results, as opposed to the 10 under his predecessor Jose Maria Olazabal last year.

U.S. captain Tom Watson reduced his wildcard selections from four to three earlier this year.