Anchors Away? Belly putters could be banned from golf

One of golf’s most controversial rules could go belly up.

The United States Golf Association and the R&A, which governs the sport outside the U.S. and Mexico, are proposing a ban of anchored putting that would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

The potential rule would not allow steadying a club against the body, usually the chest or belly, as a base for a pendulum motion during a swing.

Golf’s ruling bodies will listen to public comment on the rule before making the change official in early 2013. If the rule change is enacted, a golfer would be penalized two strokes for each violation during stroke play or lose the hole in match play.

Belly and extended putters still could be used as long as they aren’t anchored against the body, said Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA. Recent major champions Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els used the long putters during their wins.

“One of the most fundamental things about the game of golf is we believe the player should hold the club away from his body and swing it freely. We think this is integral to the traditions of the game. Golf is a game of skill and challenge and we think that is an important part of it,” said Mike Davis, the executive director of the United States Golf Association.

“The player’s challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge,” Davis said. “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 rule states that a player must not anchor a club either directly or indirectly.

“Any time you can take your arms and hands out of it, especially your hands, I think when you anchor it in your chest is a huge advantage,” PGA Tour player Steve Stricker siad. “There’s going to be a lot of upset people, a lot of guys that have putted with a long putter for a long time, and I have a feeling they’re going to have something to say about the rule.”

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