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Anchored Putting to Be Banned in Golf by 2016

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Those long-handled putters that have become fairly popular on the professional golf circuit could soon be obsolete after the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club—the official governing bodies of The Rules of Golf voted this week to ban “anchoring” a club while putting.

Rule 14-1b will prohibit golfers from anchoring their club against any part of their bodies. In its ruling, the USGA said “freely swinging the entire club is the essence of the traditional method of stroke” and argued that anchoring could “alter and diminish the fundamental challenges of the game.” While the rule doesn’t technically ban the long putters, it does prohibit players from placing the top of the club against the body to keep it steady.

Long-handled “belly putters” have grown in popularity in recent years and it’s easy to understand why—four of the last six majors have been won by players using long putters. Many of those past winners, including Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Tim Clark and Ernie Els, all lobbied to keep belly putters in the game when the ban was first proposed last fall. But several other golf heavyweights, such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Arnold Palmer all came out in support of the ban.

The new rule won’t take effect until 2016. However, the PGA, which has the ability to write its own rules but has traditionally followed the lead of the USGA, could opt to implement the ban earlier. If you’re a PGA golfer who uses a belly putter, you should probably get to work on a new stroke.

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