Anchoring entered golf in much wider usage beginning in the 1980s with the introduction of long putters, a k a broomstick putters, which were braced against the golfer's chest or chin, creating a stable fulcrum point for the putting stroke. Later, belly putters arrived, and they were anchored into one's stomach or sternum for the same effect.
The R&A and USGA have decided that anchoring and the use of "anchor points" during the putting stroke (or any other stroke) is not in keeping with the traditional method of making a stroke: with the hands away from the body and swinging the club freely.
So, on Nov. 28, 2012, the R&A and USGA announced the proposed wording of a new rule, "Rule 14-1b: Anchoring the Club." A 90-day comment period followed and then, after a short break, the governing bodies announced on May 21, 2013, that Rule 14-1b will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016. Here is how the rule reads:
14-1b Anchoring the Club
In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either "directly" or by use of an "anchor point."
Note 1: The club is anchored "directly" when the player intentionally holds the club or a gripping hand in contact with any part of his body, except that the player may hold the club or a gripping hand against a hand or forearm.
Note 2: An "anchor point" exists when the player intentionally holds a forearm in contact with any part of his body to establish a gripping hand as a stable point around which the other hand may swing the club.
For a more in-depth dive into the rule, see the R&A's Guidance for Players and Officials on Rule 14-1b.
When Does Rule 14-1b Take Effect?The rule does not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2016 (which is the next regularly scheduled update to the Rules of Golf). Anchoring remains legal until that time.
Are Belly Putters and Long Putters Banned?No. Very important point: This rule change is a change (or addition to) Rule 14-1; it is not a change to equipment rules. Belly putters and long putters remain completely legal to use, and will be legal to use even after Jan. 1, 2016, so long as they are conforming to equipment rules.
What Rule 14-1b addresses is the stroke, not the club being used to make the stroke. So if you putt with a belly putter or long putter, the rule change does not require you to stop doing that - it only prohibits the anchoring of those (and all other) clubs.
What Types of Grips/Strokes Does Rule 14-1b Permit and Prohibit?Any type of grip or stroke that does not involve anchoring the butt end of the club against the body, or anchoring a hand or forearm against the body to create an "anchor point," is unaffected by this rule change.
A conventional putting stroke, for example, is unaffected. So is cross-handed putting and the claw grip, among many other types of putting grips and strokes. You can even keep putting with a belly or broomstick putter so long as you do not anchor (for example, using a conventional putting grip/stroke with a belly putter; or using a long putter but holding the top of the grip away from the chest rather than pressed up against the chest).
The USGA and R&A have created two photo slideshows that demonstrate what types of strokes Rule 14-1b permits, and what types of strokes the rule change prohibits. The following links are to those slideshows on the USGA website, but you can also find them on the R&A website:
Does the Ban on Anchoring Only Apply to Putting Strokes?No, anchoring any club during a stroke is banned by the rule change. But for practical purposes, only putting methods are affected (since nobody anchors any other type of stroke).
How Can We Alert Club Members to Rule 14-1b and What It Permits/Prohibits?The USGA has created a terrific infographic that can be downloaded as a .pdf file and posted inside a clubhouse, lockerroom or pro shop, or merely kept on hand by any golfer for reference.
Additional FAQs on the Anchoring BanThe R&A and USGA, when they announced final adoption of the anchoring ban, prepared an in-depth explanation of their reasons for doing so. The report includes an examination of such issues determining whether a stroke is anchored, why the rule change is happening at this particular time, whether bifurcation or "grandfathering" were considered, and much more. If you want to go in-depth into the governing bodies reasons and considerations, read it:
What Is Your Reaction to a Ban on Anchoring?Are you a golfer who currently anchors? We'd like to hear how you plan to adjust to a ban on anchoring. Share your thoughts with us and other golfers, and read what your fellow golfers have to say.
Poll: How do you feel about a ban on anchoring belly and long putters? (click your choice to cast vote)
1) I support a ban on anchoring
2) I don't anchor, but it's OK with me if others do
3) I anchor and oppose a ban, but will deal with it
4) I anchor and I'll quit golf because of a ban on anchoring