Golf Association Approves Controversial Rule Banning Anchored Strokes

After months of heated discussions amongst golfers, fans, and the media, the sport’s U.S. governing body made a decision that it says serves the best interests of the game and is now helping golfers prepare for the rule change.

After months of discussion, last week the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) decided to adopt a rule that bans anchored putting. The rule, which goes into effect January 1, 2016, is directed at golfers who use a long or belly putter.

The discussion around the rule has been very helpful, and we appreciate that so many different perspectives were offered.

Knowing that not everyone would agree with the new rule and to foster transparency, USGA and R&A Rules Limited explained how the final decision was reached to adopt Rule 14-1b in a 40-page document [PDF].

“Having considered all of the input that we received, both before and after the proposed rule was announced, our best judgment is that Rule 14-1b is necessary to preserve one of the important traditions and challenges of the game—that the player freely swing the entire club,” USGA President Glen D. Nager said in a statement announcing the rule change. “The new rule upholds the essential nature of the traditional method of stroke and eliminates the possible advantage that anchoring provides, ensuring that players of all skill levels face the same challenge inherent in the game of golf.”

During the open-comment period, the USGA received more than 2,000 comments from individuals and organizations—including the PGA Tour, PGA of America, and the International Association of Golf Administrators—that showed a wide range of opinions on the issue.

“The discussion around the rule has been very helpful, and we appreciate that so many different perspectives were offered,” Mike Davis, executive director for USGA, said in a statement. “We know that not everyone will agree with the new rule, but it is our hope that all golfers will accept that this decision is reasoned and motivated by our best judgment in defining the sport and serving the best interests of the game.”

In the document, USGA said they understand and sympathize with golfers who dislike the rule change, but explained how it is not uncommon in sports, and even beyond sports, for rules and laws to change, forcing athletes and individuals to adjust.

“With more than two and a half years until the January 1, 2016, effective date, all players will have a more than ample opportunity to adopt and practice a putting method that conforms to the new rule,” the group said in the document. “The rule’s purpose is to ensure that all players face the same challenge of controlling the entire club in making a stroke and to eliminate anchoring’s potential advantages.”

In addition to the document, USGA also created a website with videos and other multimedia and released an infographic to help golfers understand the rule.

Have you been forced to make a tough decision that not everyone was going to agree with? How did you communicate your reasoning to your members? Share your story in the comments.


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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