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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Why are we still arguing over anchored putting?

Hank Haney rekindles debate over the legality of Bernhard Langer's putting stroke Alex Myers for GolfDigest.com

...Langer shows no signs of slowing down even as he nears his 60th birthday. But apparently, there are still whispers regarding the legality of Langer's putting stroke.

The USGA and R&A ruling is very specific on what an anchored putting stroke is:

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.

The logic for banning an anchored stroke is that the putting stroke should be similar to every other stroke played in the game: A free-swinging stroke involving both arms.
You can see the entire rule as published by the USGA here.

Whether Langer's current putting stroke violates the 2016 rule against anchored putting is for the committees to determine. The larger question continues to be why anchored putting strokes are illegal in the first place?

When the rule was first being discussed, Langer himself asked if an anchored stroke was such an amazing competitive advantage why didn't every player use it? Not an invalid question.

The belly putter has been around the game since the 1960's. The momentum for implementation of the new rule increased when a streak of belly putting players began winning more often than traditional stroke players. Four out of the six majors played from the 2011 PGA to the 2013 Masters was won with anchored putters. Traditionalists panicked and the rule was created.

If the anchored stroke has been banned because it's too dissimilar to a traditional stroke then how is the claw grip legal? How is anchoring the shaft of the putter against your forearm legal? How is creating a pivot point with one hand still legal as long as it isn't held against the body?

Putting is a unique part of the game. A game whose root objective is to cause a small ball to go into a small hole in as few strokes as possible. Just because a group of players found an innovative technique that makes that objective more achievable, for them, than traditionalists feel comfortable with doesn't make it wrong. The anchored putting rule needs to be amended at a minimum and should probably just be removed altogether.

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