Anchoring

Subscribe

Adam Schupak

FAR HILLS, N.J. – It felt like a wake, and in a way it was.

With the adoption of Rule 14-1b, the anchored stroke in golf officially is going the way of square grooves, the concave-faced wedge and croquet-style putting. In fact, the U.S. Golf Association can break ground on its retrospective exhibit at the museum next door on an era in golf when at least four majors were won with a method of stroke set to be banned on Jan. 1, 2016.

The mood was somber and the skies a gray foreboding mass as attendees at the USGA ...

Click here to continue reading

James Achenbach
Adam Scott during the third round of the 2013 Masters.
Adam Scott during the third round of the 2013 Masters.

FAR HILLS, N.J. – This was not the blockbuster occasion that some had envisioned.

In a modest auditorium at the U.S. Golf Association’s Golf House, a small group of two dozen people gathered Tuesday to hear the announcement that Rule 14-1B had been adopted by the game’s two rulesmaking bodies: the USGA and R&A.

This ends all the speculation. The use of the anchored stroke – whether it be for putting, chipping or any other attempt to hit the ball – officially will be prohibited as of Jan. 1, 2016.

The atmosphere was strangely quiet. It felt like ...

Click here to continue reading

James Achenbach
Keegan Bradley said he'd challenge a ban on anchoring.
Keegan Bradley said he'd challenge a ban on anchoring.

A word of advice regarding Rule 14-1B, the new anti-anchoring rule: Be careful, be very careful.

This much is clear: Intent will be very important in interpreting the rule.

“It is all about the intent of the player,” Thomas Pagel, senior director of Rules of Golf and Amateur Status, told Golfweek. “If a player makes a stroke, and the butt end of the club happens to catch his stomach, or happens to catch his shirt, that’s not intentionally holding the club against the body.

“As far as situations where it is difficult to tell, it (any possible penalty) is ...

Click here to continue reading

Alex Miceli
PGA President Ted Bishop addresses attendees of the 96th PGA Annual Meeting.
PGA President Ted Bishop addresses attendees of the 96th PGA Annual Meeting.

ST. LOUIS – In a conference room on the second floor of the clubhouse at Bellerive Country Club, site of this week's 74th Senior PGA Championship, PGA of America president Ted Bishop followed the USGA press conference announcing the adoption of Rule 14-1b to ban the anchored stroke starting in 2016.

Bishop, an early dissenter regarding a ban of the anchored stroke, sat calmly, eating yogurt and answering the occasional text message before the announcement. But Bishop has known for weeks of the USGA/R&A decision, having been briefed by the USGA two weeks ago at The Players championship at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Yet as USGA president Glen Nager was announcing the ultimate ban, Bishop still was trying to wrap his arms around what he already knew and how his organization of 27,000 members would deal with the decision.

“It's hard for me to answer that question right now because I really haven't thought much about that,” Bishop said when asked what it would mean for the PGA of America not to follow the anchoring ban. “I held out hope really all the way up through the week of The Players Championship that there might be some consideration given to this compromise. I hadn't thought too much about it, seriously thought about it, as being a potential real next step. But I think those are the two options: Either you follow the rule or there's potentially another set of rules created."

Bishop said that litigation was not in the future for the PGA of America and added that he didn’t think his association was interested in being in the rules‑writing business.

“I don't think I'm going out of school by making that statement,” Bishop said. “I don't see us as an association going down that road. But I think we'll sit back and wait to see what the PGA Tour does, for sure.”

• • •

Read the news statement from PGA of America president Ted Bishop

• • •

The PGA of America and the PGA Tour have been attached at the hip on this issue, working together on strategy, even sharing each other’s news releases about the final ban.

In many ways, the PGA of America and PGA Tour’s interests might start to diverge – with the Tour interested in the elite athletes of the game and the PGA of America interested in everyone else.

Bishop notified his board of directors last week of the final decision and asked that group of 19 to return to their 41 sections to get their thoughts and report back before the June board meeting in Sunriver, Ore., during the 46th PGA Professional National Championship.

But it was clear Bishop's biggest concern is the future.

“I know in my conversations with PGA members, I've said to them, 'How are you going to handle this, if it does go into effect, at your club?' And several of them have said, 'Well, we'll just implement a local condition of competition and allow those that anchor to continue to do so,' and you can't do that. If you're going to play the game according to the USGA and the R&A rules, you can't do that,” Bishop said. “I mean, that's bifurcation in the purest sense.”

Bishop had proposed to the USGA that it make anchoring part of the conditions of competition early in the process, but he learned from Nager during a two-day outing months ago in Augusta, Ga., that the option wouldn’t fly.

So now Bishop must educate and assist his members to implement the ban. In an odd way, the biggest supporter in helping Bishop deal with educating his members will be the USGA.

The meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach was one of the few times that USGA and PGA of America leaders sat down and met about issues, not just anchoring.

And though the USGA offered to assist the PGA of America in educating its members, the meeting in Florida is the beginning of a new dawn in the relations between the two organizations.

“I think we have more open and direct communication than we had before,” Bishop said of his relationship with Nager. “It kind of started out testy, no question, at the beginning of the comment period. But I think as we both went through it, we both found out that we were probably alike in some ways; we're both pretty direct; we're both not afraid to tell the other guy ...

Click here to continue reading

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem

PGA TOUR acknowledges that the USGA has adopted Rule 14-1b which prohibits anchored putting as of January 1, 2016.

We would like to thank the USGA for providing the opportunity for input and suggestions relative to Rule 14-1b over the last several months. During that time, various questions were raised and issues discussed.

We will now begin our process to ascertain whether the various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions and, if so, examine the process for implementation.

In this regard, over the next month we will engage in discussions with our Player Advisory Council and ...

Click here to continue reading

Adam Schupak
Mike Davis
Mike Davis

Nearly six months after the USGA and R&A proposed a ban on anchoring, golf’s two governing bodies have made Rule 14-1b official during a press conference on Tuesday morning.

The Rule’s purpose is to ensure that all players face the same challenge of controlling the entire club in making a stroke and to eliminate anchoring’s potential advantages.

In advance of Tuesday's announcement, USGA executive director Mike Davis, USGA president Glen Nager and USGA’s Rules Committee Chairman Mark Newell fielded questions from Golfweek on an array of topics pertaining to the anchoring ban.

• • •

Since nothing has changed to the proposed ruling, why do you think the golfers will feel like their voice has been heard?

Nager: We have done an extensive analysis of the comments received and shared with the public our assessment of the comments so those who have provided us with the comments, for which we're deeply appreciative, will know that (they have) been heard and will know what our thinking is.

• • •

There's certainly a perception that the USGA is an elitist organization that's out of touch with everyday golfers. Is there any concern that a decision like this only perpetuates that perception?

Nager: This decision is about protecting and preserving the game for all golfers and eliminating potential advantages that mean that not all golfers have been facing the same skill challenge. We believe very strongly that golfers want a well-defined game with well-defined challenges and that they are all teeing off on equal ground.

• • •

For the diagram that explains the new Rule 14-1b, click here.

• • •

Did you sympathize with any of the arguments you heard?

Nager: I wouldn't use the word sympathize. I'd use the word empathize. We greatly empathized with those who are concerned that they will have to adjust their method of stroke from the one they've been using. We strongly believe that we have left many alternatives to them and there will be a substantial period of time in which to transition. We also greatly appreciate the comments that we received on the timing of the issue and the concern about participation in the game. We are confident that now is a necessary time for the promulgation of this rule and we are confident that this rule will strengthen the game and will not have any material effects on participation in the game, at least not any adverse effects.

• • •

Reading through the document you released, you make the point that the rule is somewhat arbitrary, that it is made on a judgment, not scientific evidence. Didn't the USGA already make a judgment on this in 1989? And Mike, you specifically said when you took the job of executive director in 2010 that you didn’t see a need to make a change. So what has changed?

Davis: Good questions. Let me take you back to 1989. This has been something that the rules committees of the USGA and R&A have looked at on a few different occasions over the years. If you go back to then, it's clear looking at the information that there had been a segment of people involved back then that didn't like the long putter and anchoring. What that committee did was say that they studied the long putter and on balance they felt it was OK for the game. We stand by that today. So what's different between 1989 and now is that you have a growing population in golf that are using anchored strokes that really didn't use those strokes in the 80s and 90s. Those were people who tended to have back issues and to have lost their nerves, and now what's happened, in the last couple of years – and you refer to a comment I made a couple of years ago – there really has been this uptick in usage by golfers who didn't really consider this option. They see it as a more efficient way to putt. For some golfers in some situations, there is an advantage. Ultimately, this is really about trying to define what a stroke is supposed to be, trying to protect the tradition of the game where you make a stroke and you hold the club with two hands and you swing it away from the body – so it is a free swing – that's what this really is about. And we felt because of this upsurge and this segment of the game that finds this a more efficient, better way to putt, that's really what is different from a couple of years ago and what's different from 1989.

• • •

Is it safe to say you think they made the wrong decision in 1989?

Davis: No. I did not say that. As I said, we stand by that. When we looked at this, before we made the proposal, there was the discussion should we make the putter the shortest club in the bag? But that didn't get at what was troubling us. What was troubling us is the anchored stroke, taking a putter and putting it essentially into your body and restricting the movement of it. We're perfectly fine with the long putter. It's just how that long putter, or the belly putter, is used. If someone wants to use it and not do it in an anchored method, we're perfectly fine with that.

• • •

Why not study whether anchoring does make a difference or not?

Nager: Well, we have studied it. The study shows that those who play the game and those who teach the game and those who observe the game report that it is an advantage. That's the reason that players anchor. They do it because they believe it makes them better putters. A lot of instructors are advocating the stroke for that reason. Those who oppose the stroke are reporting that they are at a competitive disadvantage because others are allowed to do it. That's important information about the game. What we haven't done, because we don't believe it is a relevant question, is study whether or not anchoring makes all people or the average player a better putter than alternative strokes. That's not the question the Rules of Golf asks. For example, testing the sand in a bunker before a stroke. That rule is not on the basis that the average player gets good information and thus makes a better stroke from out of the bunker from having that information. In fact, I would dare speculate that most recreational golfers wouldn't know what to test for and wouldn't necessarily make a better stroke out of the bunker if they had that information. But it is an important tradition of the game that you're not allowed to test a hazard before you make a stroke. That's the point. The point here is in the traditions of the game we ban all players from getting potential advantages whether they would realize an actual advantage from them or not.

• • •

Why did you go to such lengths to prove scientifically that there was a need for the grooves rule to be change but have elected not to go through a similar process pertaining to anchoring?

Nager: In the context of the grooves rule, we were trying to address an equipment issue. This isn't an equipment issue. In the context of the grooves rule, we found there was no longer a correlation between winning money and accuracy. We started with the proposition that there was a relevant statistical question to look at and so we studied it statistically. In this instance, there's not a relevant statistical question to ask so we're not trying to answer it.

• • •

Did you consider a condition of competition and if so, why did you elect not to approve one?

Nager: The answer is yes. There was a proposal made to us to consider implementing this rule but only through a condition of competition. We elected not to do that. The rule, in this instance, is about a fundamental aspect of the game and that is a stroke, and a fundamental appeal of the game is that all players play by the same rules, use the same equipment, on the same golf courses.

To use an optional condition of competition, which is supposed to be about something peculiar to a competition and not about a fundamental aspect of the game, would be inappropriate. It would result in having the same game played under different rules on different golf courses in different competitions by different kinds of golfers as a result of using an optional condition of competition on a stroke that might be used 30 or 40 times a round; (that) would be to define the game and depart from its great history and tradition.

This is increasingly a global game and the comment period reinforced to us that people want a single set of rules to play by and play the same game and be able to compare themselves to each other playing that same game. So an optional condition of competition wouldn’t have been appropriate for those factors.

• • •

Was there any consideration for advancing the date of implementation?

Nager: Yes. There were a number of comments we received that ...

Click here to continue reading

PGA President Ted Bishop addresses attendees of the 96th PGA Annual Meeting.
PGA President Ted Bishop addresses attendees of the 96th PGA Annual Meeting.

Over the past few months The PGA of America has taken a vocal and active position which reflected the strong viewpoint of our PGA Professionals in opposing the USGA and R&A's proposed Rule 14-1b that would ban the anchored stroke. Today, the governing bodies indicated that they will proceed with the formal adoption of the rule.

We are disappointed with this outcome. As we have said publicly and repeatedly during the comment period, 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. Growing the game is one of the fundamental purposes of The PGA of America.

Although we do not agree with the decision, we applaud the USGA for its willingness to listen to our concerns and engage in meaningful discussions. In our opinion and based on our experience, the USGA treated the comment period for what it was intended to be -- a time to exchange opinions, concerns and potential solutions.

We should also note that our difference of opinion regarding 14-1b should not in any way detract from the healthy relationship we have had with the USGA for nearly a century. Together, we have taken tremendous steps for the benefit of the game we both love and serve and we will continue to work together through the ongoing mutual support of Get Golf Ready; Tee It Forward; the Boys & Girls Clubs of America; the First Tee, Drive, Chip and Putt Championship; 9 is Fine; and critical pace of play issues. Let us not lose sight of the fact that The PGA and the USGA agree far more than we disagree.

We also want to note that our conversations and meetings with the USGA over these last few months have resulted in our mutual agreement to engage in ...

Click here to continue reading

May 21, 2013 | 7:56 a.m.

POLL: Do you agree with anchoring ban?

Keegan Bradley said he'd challenge a ban on anchoring.
Keegan Bradley said he'd challenge a ban on anchoring.

Take the poll here

Padraig Harrington during the 2012 Singapore Open.
Padraig Harrington during the 2012 Singapore Open.

— Padraig Harrington could be compared to a Prohibitionist enjoying a frosty brew. Harrington, a proponent on the proposed ban of the anchoring stroke, put a belly putter into play Thursday at the Wells Fargo Championship. It didn’t help, as Harrington shot 80 at Quail Hollow Club, needing 32 putts on the course’s bumpy putting surfaces.

Harrington started using the putter last week, saying boredom led him to experiment with one last week. “Mechanically, everything I do with my putting stroke is better with the belly putter than without it,” he said. “I was like, 'Oh ...

Click here to continue reading

PGA President Ted Bishop addresses attendees of the 96th PGA Annual Meeting.
PGA President Ted Bishop addresses attendees of the 96th PGA Annual Meeting.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The biggest rivalry in golf at the moment could be the heads of two different organizations on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

PGA of America president Ted Bishop has been vocal about his opposition to the proposed rule that would ban the anchored stroke used for long putters. Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson last week referred to Bishop's public comments as a "campaign."

"The PGA of America knows my views about this and I'm disappointed at the way that campaign was conducted," Dawson said. "It put rule-making onto the negotiating table. The negotiating ...

Click here to continue reading

Categories: Anchoring, PGA Tour
James Achenbach

History says the primary responsibilities of the two ruling bodies are to:

  1. make rules;
  2. conduct national championships.

There is nothing in the charter of either organization about growing the game or making golfers happy. Rulesmaking in golf never has been a popularity contest.

Golfers who secure long putters against their chests or stick belly putters into their stomachs probably will be unhappy when the final ruling is announced.

The USGA and R&A carefully have staked out their position and articulated their proposal to golfers around the world. There is no doubt how they feel and what they believe is best for the long-term health of the game.

Here in the United States, we pay too little attention to the R&A. The two ruling bodies have pledged to reach a mutual conclusion on anchoring. There will be no split decision. Thus it is imperative to look closely at the R&A.

The notion of the R&A capitulating to pro-anchoring advocates is unthinkable to many international observers. Over the decades, the R&A never has been frightened by the specter of criticism. For example, having survived women’s liberation and several generations of feminist rhetoric, the R&A still limits its membership to males.

Much has been made of the public stance adopted first by the PGA of America and then by PGA Tour. Both organizations oppose the anchoring ban.

There is one thing wrong with this picture: It doesn’t project a worldwide view. Outside the United States, anchoring has meager support. It is largely viewed as an adulteration of the golf stroke. Influential groups such as the Sunshine Tour in South Africa and the PGA European Tour have expressed their unwavering support for the R&A.

For the record, the jurisdiction of the USGA includes just two countries – the United States and Mexico – while the jurisdiction of the R&A encompasses the rest of the world, including at least part of every continent on earth where golf is played (Canada, in North America, is part of the R&A's domain).

Those closely following the USGA in recent months have noticed a flurry of activity from the communications department. The USGA has responded with “thank you” messages to friends and foes alike in the anchoring debate.

It is a strategy designed to make all golfers feel as if they are part of the conversation. The USGA wants everyone to believe it is listening. Knowing USGA executive director Mike Davis, widely viewed as one of the most compassionate leaders in all of sports, the USGA probably is listening.

This perception is exactly why Davis hired Joe Goode as managing director of communications. Goode is a member of the senior management team established by Davis, and he spent 15 years in the cauldron of public relations for Bank of America. After that, the USGA must seem like a piece of cake.

Still, the odds are against the ruling bodies changing their minds. They might alter the manner or the time frame in which the rules change takes place, but somewhere down the road anchoring probably will become a disappearing part of golf history.

Here is one possible ending to the anchoring scenario: The USGA and R&A once again will thank everyone who submitted comments. They will talk about the family of golf. They will make it clear we’re all in this together. Then they will discuss the sanctity of the rules – history has shown us that the rules are the foundation of the game; we cannot disturb that bedrock without shaking and agitating the game itself.

Then it will be over. Except for the details and the method of implementation, anchoring will ...

Click here to continue reading

Jim McCabe
Tim Clark
Tim Clark

DORAL, Fla. –- There is a passion in his voice. What’s more, it’s hard to debate that he doesn’t provide a well-grounded and profound thought process that any courtroom attorney would be proud to call his own. If Tim Clark wowed them at a PGA Tour players’ meeting Jan. 21 to discuss the proposed ban on anchoring, he demonstrated Wednesday night exactly why.

Compelling and committed, Clark broke his monthslong silence on the subject and offered praise for Tour commissioner Tim Finchem’s opposition to the ban. Though U.S. Golf Association and R&A officials seem staunchly opposed to the anchored putting stroke – a method that Clark has used for approximately 15 years – the Tour veteran said he remains “quite optimistic” that his technique will remain part of the game.

“As players now, we’re just going to support Tim in his stance," Clark said. "We think he’s made the right decision.”

Since the decision in late November by the USGA and the R&A to propose a ban on anchoring, Clark has not been heard, but for good reason. He chose to study the issue, formulate his thoughts and plead the case first to his colleagues. When he dissected the issue, what gnawed at Clark and what led him to speak in front of the membership was this:

“This isn’t purely a rules decision. This is a decision now that’s affecting my family, affecting the way I’m going to go about making a living. So you need to listen to what I have to say here.”

On the eve of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral, Clark had come to make his viewpoints public and was accompanied by Adam Scott. Another who anchors, Scott listened to his friend and colleague, nodded his approval, and added salient points.

“I can’t believe they’re making rules based on subjective opinions and not based on any evidence,” Scott said. “We’re making rules for the betterment of the game based on zero evidence? Incredible.”

Clark, 37, and Scott, 32, said they keep coming back to this: The ability to anchor the putter has been allowed within the rules forever; there is documentation of ...

Click here to continue reading

Alex Miceli
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem

Well, they did ask for comments, didn’t they?

Now that the 90-day comment period regarding the proposed anchoring ban is over, the U.S. Golf Association and the R&A – which received an earful from many of golf’s leaders – have a few things to consider.

Foremost among them: With the PGA Tour and PGA of America opposed to proposed Rule 14-1b, which would ban the anchoring stroke used with belly and long putters, should the USGA and R&A go ahead anyway?

The game’s governing bodies released statements March 1, saying the comment period that ended Feb ...

Click here to continue reading

Alistair Tait
European Tour CEO George O'Grady
European Tour CEO George O'Grady

It’s official – the European Tour will back the R&A’s proposed ban on anchoring. In a statement released by the European Tour today, chief executive George O’Grady states:

“The European Tour has been fully involved in the consultation process which ended on February 28th, and deeply value this involvement. Our Members support the unique role played by the governing bodies in formulating the Rules of Golf.

“Additionally, virtually all of our Tournament Committee and player representatives support the proposed rule even though they are aware, and have taken into account, the fact that some members and especially ...

Click here to continue reading

Alistair Tait

The R&A can count on all three professional bodies in the British Isles supporting its stance in the anchoring debate following a decision by the Ladies European Tour to back the ruling body.

“The LET is a members' organization which I can confirm was consulted during the notice and comment period,” said Sally McPherson, the LET’s Membership and Tour School Director. “On behalf of its membership, the LET confirmed to the R&A that we are in support of the proposed rules change to prohibit use of anchored strokes as it was felt it was in the long ...

Click here to continue reading

Recent Anchoring Videos

Video: Alex Miceli weighs in on anchoring proposal

Golfweek senior writer Alex Miceli offers his thoughts after Wednesday's press conference by the USGA and R&A.

Video: USGA, R&A explain proposed change

USGA, R&A explain proposed Rules change to prohibit anchored strokes.