Word of advice on anchoring rule: Be very careful

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 based on the intent of the player, on the integrity of the player.”

An important point: Under Rule 14-1B, golfers are allowed to tuck their forearms or elbows against the body while putting. This will not be considered anchoring.

However, there is an exception: A player will be in violation of the new rule if he or she tucks a forearm against his body and, at the same time, uses a split-handed putting grip.

This method would have the effect of creating a pivot point (with the player’s forearm) for the purpose of using a fulcrum-type stroke. It would not be considered a free stroke using both hands.

“If a player wants to tuck his forearms or his elbows against his body, that’s just fine,” Pagel said, “but keep your hands together. If a player prefers to have a grip style where his hands are apart, that’s fine, too; just don’t hold a forearm against your body when you’re doing that.”

This points to the intent of anchoring Rule 14-1B: It bans the method but does not ban long or belly putters.

Once the rule goes into effect Jan. 1, 2016, questions will arise during competition. Under its Rules Response Program, the USGA has responded to as many as 14,000 inquiries a year.

“During the week, we have a staff of three individuals who do nothing but answer inquires on the Rules of Golf,” Pagel said. “We have somebody on call Friday through Sunday. If somebody calls the USGA (when its headquarters are closed), they get directed to a cellphone. We understand that the game of golf does not stop at 5 p.m. Eastern time on Friday.”

Expect those cellphone minutes to go up in 2016. And rightfully so, because golfers who play in tournaments will have to be very conscientious about what can and cannot be done under Rule 14-1B.

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