Belly Putters: A Thing of the Past?

In November of 2012, the USGA and R&A announced in a press release that they propose changes to the Rules of Golf that will prohibit players from anchoring a club to their body while making a putting stroke. Although this change has been in the rear-view mirror for quite some time, it’s not as drastic as you may think. We all thought the new rule change, which will take effect in January of 2016, would ban the use of belly and long putters. Instead, the USGA and R&A have decided that the new rule change will have no effect on the current equipment rules, it will only effect the putting stroke itself. This regulation is being implemented to maintain the fundamental characteristics of the putting stroke.

Proposed Changes to Rule 14-1
The proposed change would relabel current Rule 14-1 as Rule 14-1a, and establish Rule 14-1b as described below:
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.”

If you want more information on the new rule changes, you can visit the USGA or the R&A websites.

In short, anchoring the club was a technique created as a last resort, and was not meant as a preferred method of putting. Until recently (the last 30 years) the putting stroke was free swinging and the USGA and R&A have shown that they intend to keep it that way. What does this mean for you and me? All it means is, don’t get rid of your putter or throw out your current stroke until 2016. And when the rule change does go into effect in 3 years, you have a few options. You can get a new putter or figure out how to use your belly/long putter without anchoring it.

If you have a belly/long putter, what will you do when the Rules of Golf change in 2016?