The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) will hold a teleconference from 8:30 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday Nov. 28th. The ruling bodies of golf are expected to announce their joint decision regarding whether it will be illegal to anchor a putter against one’s body, as has become increasingly popular. Golfers who use a belly and long putter tend to anchor it against the belly or chest.
Participants will include: Mike Davis, the USGA’s executive director; Peter Dawson, the R&A’s chief executive; Thomas Pagel, Senior Director, Rules of Golf, USGA; and David Rickman, Executive Director, Rules & Equipment Standards, The R&A.
Davis said last month that the golfing authorities would announce their decision by the end of the year. The media, tour players, and golf fans have paid a great deal of attention to the matter. The fundamental issue is whether anchoring a putter represents a golf swing or a golf stroke.
The ruling bodies are expected to ban anchoring. The ban, if indeed that is the decision, will come into force as of Jan. 1, 2016. The current rules cycle is through the end of 2015, so players who do anchor the putter would have until then to adjust to the change.
Should a ban be imposed, many PGA and European Tour players who anchor when they putt are expected to react strongly. Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner – and a golfer who has used anchoring for years – has been the most vocal.
One PGA Tour player who also anchors the putter told me recently that the reaction could get ugly. He also mentioned that another player who anchors the putter told him he will quit the PGA Tour should a ban be imposed.
This matter affects the livelihoods of professional golfers. They, and interested amateurs who feel that anchoring is an easier way to putt, will be paying close attention to what the USGA and R&A say tomorrow morning. It will be particularly interesting to see how a ruling to ban anchoring would be worded. Every word will be parsed. That is certain.
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Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada’s Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 12 books, including Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); This Round’s on Me (2009); and the latest Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius (2012). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at email@example.com . You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein