When putting, a smooth motion, back and forth, is the ideal. Some golfers have tried to achieve this by anchoring a putter to their belly or chest. The game's governing bodies, however, want to ban the technique (Read: "The End of an Era: USGA/R&A ban anchored putting"). But like every equipment ban in the past, it has inspired designers to pursue new alternatives. "There are ways to make you feel like you're swinging an anchored putter without actually anchoring it," says Brad Schweigert, director of engineering for Ping. For example, by increasing the length from the standard 35 inches to about 38 inches, the putter's mass can increase by 25 percent or more. The extra weight enhances stability, and the extra length forces golfers to grip down on the club, which adds weight above the hands to counterbalance the extra mass, almost like holding a dumbbell.
"Anchored putters change the center of rotation of your stroke, moving it closer to where it's anchored in your body," says Brian Bazzel, product-creation director for TaylorMade. "Gripping down moves the balance point closer to your hands."
More weight in the grip also can prevent your hands from lagging during the stroke. "The head of your putter shouldn't be the activator that hits the ball," says Stephen Boccieri, founder and CEO of Boccieri Golf, maker of the Heavy Putter. "You want your hands to lead the impact. A lighter grip or a heavier head lowers the balance point of a putter, making it harder to stop the head from getting ahead of the hands."
Another technique involves bracing the putter to your lead forearm. "Anchoring to your arm is better because it allows you to finish your stroke," says designer Bobby Grace. But don't try to arm-anchor a standard long putter. Says Robert Bettinardi of Bettinardi Golf: "When you arm-lock a putter, you tend to forward press it. Arm-anchored putters need more loft and shaft offset."
Not all alternatives to anchoring involve a longer putter. By increasing the weight of the head, shaft and grip of a standard-length putter, designers can boost the stability and maintain the same balance point. "When golfers have the yips, they have trouble controlling fast-twitch wrist movement," says Austie Rollinson, principal designer at Odyssey. "Putting with a heavier putter quiets the wrists, stabilizing the stroke without anchoring."
A qualified clubfitter can guide you through the options and even retro-fit your current putter with a new, heavier grip. Our advice: Start with standard lengths and heavier models before going longer. Chances are you might not have to anchor the putter to get its benefits.