Golf's ruling bodies cited history—ancient and recent—when they announced a proposal to ban the anchored style of putting that has been used by the winners of three of the past five major championships.
"This decision gets back to the USGA and R&A feeling that fundamentally golf for 600 years has been about picking up the club, gripping it with two hands and making a free swing away from the body," USGA executive director Mike Davis told Golf Digest. But he also referenced the increased use of the anchored style of putting at the professional level (15 wins during the past two years on the PGA Tour) as one reason the decision was made now. Just as concerning to the ruling bodies: More juniors and recreational players are following the lead of the pros.
"That caused us to say, 'Is this what we really want the game of golf to be in the future?' " Davis said. "We came to the conclusion that fundamentally that's not part of golf."
Of course, it seems the ruling bodies were not just motivated by upholding the tradition of what a stroke is, but preserving the game's inherent challenge of overcoming nerves. Said R&A chief executive Peter Dawson: "Our conclusion is that anchored strokes threaten to supplant traditional strokes, which, with all their frailties, are integral to the long-standing character of our sport."
As proposed, the rule will go into effect with the next revision of the Rules of Golf in January 2016, but the USGA is accepting comments on the proposal from golfers and the industry through the end of February. Feedback on the announcement has already been volatile, and one of those anchored-style major champions, 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley, believes he's caught in the middle.
"I feel like the USGA has really put an X on our back," says Bradley, who says he was called a "cheater" by a heckler at the World Challenge the week the announcement was made. "When we started putting with it, they were legal, and they still are. It's a sticky situation."
Historically sticky, as a matter of fact. —Mike Stachura
PERMITTED: Belly and long putters (provided they're not anchored to the body) as well as unconventional grips and methods (scroll down for examples).
PROHIBITED: Any method in which the club is "intentionally" held against the body (other than the forearm) or where the forearm is braced against the body (scroll down for examples).