The countdown is less than two years. On Jan. 1, 2016, the anchored putting stroke will be abolished under the Rules of Golf. Neither pros nor amateurs can do it.
Golfers who anchor their putters will be forced to adopt alternative methods. The big question: What are the options?
Kelley Moser, a Titleist tour rep for Scotty Cameron putters, can be found on the putting green at 38 to 40 PGA Tour events during the year. He and Larry Silveira, Titleist’s other putting specialist, are an important resource for many touring pros, offering putters and advice.
Here at the Northern Trust Open, Moser made a decisive prediction about Titleist staff player and reigning Masters champion Adam Scott.
“He will continue to anchor his putter as long as he can,” Moser said, “but he will experiment on the side with other methods. In 2016, no matter what technique he chooses, he will go out there and make putts and beat the other guys much of the time – just like he does now.”
Nick Raffaele, Callaway’s vice president of sports marketing, recalled a friendly conversation with Bernhard Langer on a putting green.
Langer, the two-time Masters champion said he was looking closely at two putting methods, one named after himself and the other named after Matt Kuchar. With his method, Langer used his right hand to clamp the putter grip against his left forearm. With the Kuchar method, the putter grip rested against the left forearm although the hands were unified in a conventional grip.
“He made putts both ways,” Raffaele said. “He made medium-length putts, and he made short putts. The only time his stroke changed was when he tried to use a normal two-hand grip on short putts. He wasn’t very good when he did that.”
The point: Gifted players are not necessarily restricted to one putting method.
Golfers moving away from anchoring might consider these techniques:
- Split-hand putting with a long putter (generally 46 to 50 inches) and the grip moved away from the chest to avoid anchoring;
- Mid-length putting (often 36 to 40 inches) with a conventional two-hand grip and a heavy counterweight placed in the butt end of the grip;
- Sidesaddle or face-on putting (variable length) with the hands split and the ball positioned to the side of the player rather than in front;
- Traditional putting (variable length) as it has been done for years.
With long putting and sidesaddle putting, there is a risk of the golfer unintentionally anchoring the putter during the stroke. Such a dispute might have to be resolved by a rules official. However, the U.S. Golf Association is on record as saying that inadvertent contact with a shirt or jacket does not constitute anchoring.
Cameron has conducted extensive research on counter-weighted or counter-balanced putters. He coined his own term: Dual Balance.
What Cameron has done is coordinate the weight in the grip with the weight of the head. This creates better balance, Cameron maintains. Simply taking a belly putter and shortening the grip can throw a putter out of balance, he says.
Moser says another potential danger is gripping a mid-length, counter-weighted putter at the top end of the grip – causing a lack of control and feel. Following Cameron’s research, he advises golfers to grip down 3 inches.
Mindful of that 3-inch mark, Cameron even invented a grip with graphics that show exactly where to position the hands.
To compute the proper length of a counter-weighted putter, a golfer should take his preferred length in a conventional putter and add 3 inches.
The Cameron Dual Balance family includes several putters. A standard configuration includes a 400-gram head, 130-gram grip and 50-gram counterweight. This is all about heavy weight and definitive balance. It is intended to slow down unwanted wrist movement during the stroke.
Adjustable weights also are part of the equation on some Cameron putters. The Futura X Dual Balance, for example, has four weight ports. Two 10-gram and two 20-gram weights are standard, although optional weights from 5 grams to 30 grams can be purchased.
Regardless of the method they choose, smart golfers are getting ready for 2016.