USGA rule change: Is this the end for belly putters in golf?
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the U.S. Golf Association said the proposed rule would make it illegal for pro golfers to "anchor" the club to their bodies while making a stroke. The new rule would not take effect until 2016.
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"We don't think putting in an anchored way is easy. You have to learn how to do it," Dawson said. "But it takes one of the potential frailties out of the stroke. ... We have to retain the skill and challenge inherent in golf."Skip to next paragraph
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The R&A and USGA will take comments for three months on the proposed rule before it is approved. Because the Rules of Golf are updated every four years, any ban on the anchored stroke would not take effect for another four years.
The U.S. PGA Tour, European Tour and U.S. LPGA Tour said they will evaluate the proposed rule with their players. The PGA of America, meanwhile, said it was concerned that such a ban would drive people from the game.
"As our mission is to grow the game ... we are asking them to seriously consider the impact this proposed ban may have on people's enjoyment of the game and the overall growth of the game," PGA president Ted Bishop said
The decision should be divisive at the highest level.
Tim Clark of South Africa and Pettersson have used broom putters for their entire careers, and they have suggested a new rule would affect their livelihoods. Els once mocked Vijay Singh for using a long putter, but then Els switched to a belly putter last year when his putting suffered.
"As long as it's legal, I'll cheat like the rest of them," he said.
Davis said potential lawsuits were never considered.
"Shame on us if we're scared of litigation in doing the right thing," Davis said.
Tiger Woods is among those who have been outspoken about anchored putters, saying it takes away from the nerves in the hands in trying to make putts.
"I just believe that the art of putting is swinging the club and controlling nerves," Woods said on Tuesday. "And having it as a fixed point, as I was saying all year, is something that's not in the traditions of the game. We swing all other 13 clubs. I think the putter should be the same.
"One of the things that I was concerned about going forward is the kids who get started in the game and putt with an anchoring system. There have been some guys who have had success out here, and obviously everyone always copies what we do out here. And that's something that I think for the greater good of the game needs to be adjusted."
Jack Nicklaus recalls croquet-style putting was banned decades ago, and golf moved on. Even though far more golfers use long putters, he expects the same outcome.
"They'll all learn to adjust," Nicklaus told Golf Channel. "Like anything else, they'll get used to it and get over it. ... We've had changes with balls, wood heads, groover, all kinds of changes. Players have adjusted to those and they'll adjust to this."