Last month, Adam Scott won The Masters with some of the most dramatic putting in golf history. And after Jan. 1, 2016, he won't be able to duplicate the feat.
The USGA and the R&A, golf's two governing bodies, have ruled that anchoring a club, as Scott and many others do in putting, will be illegal as of Jan. 1, 2016. Rule 14-1b now bans the anchoring of long putters and belly putters against the body.
The governing bodies have prepared documentation explaining, in their words, "why freely swinging the entire club is the essence of the traditional method of stroke, and why anchoring is a substantially different form of stroke that may alter and diminish the fundamental challenges of the game." The full report is available right here.
It's worth noting that the rule will not actually ban long putters, but rather the practice of anchoring them against the body. Also worth noting: four of the last six majors have been won by players using a belly putter. In addition to Scott, Keegan Bradley (2011 PGA Championship), Webb Simpson (2012 U.S. Open) and Ernie Els (2012 British Open) also anchored their putters, making for a handy little Anchor Slam. Those players and others now have nearly three years to figure out a new putting stroke.
Both agencies sought to ensure that there are no asterisks surrounding those wins, however. "This Rule change addresses the future and not the past," said David Rickman, Executive Director of Rules and Equipment Standards at The R&A. "Everyone who has used an anchored stroke in the past, or who does so between now and January 1, 2016, will have played entirely within the Rules and their achievements will in no way be diminished."
For the detail-minded among you, the new rule is as follows:
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.
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-