Just as we speculated earlier today, the U.S.G.A. and R&A have indeed proposed a new Rule of Golf that will prohibit what they feel is an anchored stroke.
While they could not produce any evidence of performance benefits they are proposing that some variations on how the long and belly putters are used be banned with an effective target date of January 1, 2016. It will move forward following a three-month input period where stakeholders in the game can make their opinions heard. After what appears to be a year of study, it seems that there is very little that would prevent the new rule, 14-1b, from moving forward.
The long lead time is unprecedented in the history of the Joint Rules Committee and is meant to give ample time for all players affected to make the necessary adjustments.
The rule is framed as not an equipment ruling but one that is about playing the game, according to officials in today’s press conference.
Golf Canada Rules Chairman and JRC member Dean Ryan asserts that the main focus was on putting styles making use of the torso for stability. “It was the belly putter that really got things interesting,” Ryan told Flagstick this morning after the Press Conference. “I think there was a lot of thought put into the decision that will still allow creativity for golfers. I’m pleased with how it turned out in the end.”
It is yet to be seen how the PGA Tour will address this ruling but they did sent out a message via Twitter saying it would be discussed during player meetings in January. The progressive use of anchored putter methods on the professional tours was cited as one of the reasons that this rule was being proposed at this time.
As for the LPGA, they released the following statement from Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann:
“The LPGA has consistently conducted our official events in accordance with the Rules of Golf as defined by the USGA and the R&A. We certainly respect golf’s governing bodies and their long standing desire to protect and promote the best interests of the game.
“The proposed new Rule 14-1b prohibiting ‘anchoring the club’ in making a stroke is not yet final and the LPGA will wait with interest while the USGA and R&A consider further comments and suggestions from the golf community.
“In the meantime, we will continue to discuss this proposed change with our players and provide our input and thoughts directly to the USGA and R&A.”
One of the best visuals for how the Rule will affect golfers can be found here on the U.S.G.A website. The R&A have also posted an informative FAQ here. Golf Canada Rules Chairman Dean Ryan says getting the visuals was key in the process of presenting this to the public for the first time – it should make it very clear what this proposed rule allows and does not.
The proposed changed to Rule 14-1:
|Proposed Changes to Rule 14-1
The proposed change would relabel current Rule 14-1 as Rule 14-1a, and establish Rule 14-1b as described below:
|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.