USGA, R&A to Scrutinize Usage of Belly Putters

The debate over belly and chest putters is heating up. We’ve already seen Tiger’s desire to ban them, but how do the R&A and USGA go about instituting rules on the clubs? Here’s a great article by James Achenbach on GolfWeek about the issue.  Note the comparison of this issue to the between-the-legs style of putting, which was banned 40 years ago.  It’s likely the putters themselves won’t be banned, but the act of anchoring them to the body.

USGA, R&A to Scrutinize Usage of Belly Putters

HOUSTON, Texas – Belly putters may not be spared the rulesmakers’ axe after all.

Just when it appeared likely that belly putters and chest putters would be with us for an extended period of time, a new ban-the-belly movement within the R&A has convinced the U.S. Golf Association to take what executive director Mike Davis calls a “fresh look” at the putting phenomenon known as anchoring.

Anchoring, as it is commonly called in R&A and USGA circles, refers in general to any putting method in which the putter is secured against the body in a manner considered to be outside the definition of a natural or traditional stroke.

In belly putting, the grip end of the putter is anchored in or around the abdomen. In chest putting, which is often called long putting, the grip end is locked against the chest.

Writing an anti-anchoring rule would be extremely tricky. Drafting the precise language would in all probability become the biggest challenge in the history of equipment rulesmaking. It would constitute a major rules decision.

The putters themselves would not be ruled nonconforming, but rather the putting methods would become illegal. This is exactly what happened more than 40 years ago when between-the-legs (croquet) putting was outlawed. The putters continued to be used by a few players, namely Sam Snead, in a sidesaddle style.

Read the full article here.

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