A spectre is haunting the game of golf–the spector of anchoring. That is the term used for what is commonly known as the belly putter, where a golfer with a long putter anchors the end against the chest or sternum. Adam Scott was the latest to win a major with a belly punter, sinking a big putt on the 18th hole. Okay, so maybe it is not a super huge gigantic spectre, since just a handful of notable players are doing it, and somewhere between 2 and 4% of all golfers in the USA and Europe are doing it. Still, the USGA and R&A announced via statement that the belly putter ban will take place beginning on January 1st, 2016, and golf will go back to its free swinging ways.
Anchoring is different: Intentionally securing one end of the club against the body, and creating a point of physical attachment around which the club is swung, is a substantial departure from that traditional free swing.
See, golf is embracing the traditional approach of free swinging by the players, from Arnold Palmer to Tiger Woods. Our Stephen Douglas, with an assist from Spencer, broke down some of the issues with the belly putter ban when the proposal surfaced last year. The USGA and R&A made the ban despite scant evidence that it actually provides an effect: “[s]tatistics are not necessary to resolve that issue.”
In the end, it turns out that they hate the belly putter as much as most people. Now, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, and Ernie Els, among others, have two and half years to stop going with the gut. For all of you rules sticklers, the ban extends to all forms of golf, so if your buddy pulls out the belly putter in 2016, go ahead and call in that penalty stroke to the clubhouse.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]