Most of us have already heard of the new rule regarding “Anchored Putting”. Just to be clear, the long or belly putter will not be banned, just the ability to anchor it to a fixed point on your body or use your forearm as an anchor point against your body. The purpose of which is to stabilize on end of the putter so the putter head can swing more consistently.
Here is the rule from the USGA and R&A which will go into effect in 2016:
|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.
This is a rather huge ruling for those affected by it, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els, Bernhard Langer etc. but it gives them plenty of time to make the transition back to conventional putting. In my opinion, that is more than enough time to change. In fact, the way these guys work on their games, I am sure they would be just fine in a few weeks or months. For many though, it is not the physical side of it that would be the hardest. The mental crutch would be yanked out from under them as well and that would mean having to deal with the demons of the short putter past.
Putting is the most important part of the game at this level and really is the determining factor in who wins and strikes it rich and those that will struggle to keep their job on tour. It is no fun when the hands start shaking and the putter starts to have a mind of its own, trust me, I have been there even at the level I compete.
I did experiment a few months on and off with a “Belly Length” putter and will admit that it helped my short putting. Another words, the short length “tap ins” were much easier and less chance of a nervous yip causing a miss. On the other hand, my long distance or lag putting suffered a lack of “feel”. This was particularly true on breaking putts even at medium range.
To me it became a net no gain as I made less long putts but made more short ones. In fact, the game was quite boring to simply two-putt most every hole. Two-putting a lot does not get the job done anyway at most levels, you have to do better than that!
I have already committed to playing the rest of my days with the short putter even if it means dealing with the yips head on. I do feel that I can make more of the “feel” putts more often and if it means a few more one-putts and a few more three-putts, I think it will make for a more interesting round of golf than steady, boring two-putts all the way.
A little more about the word we use so often, “Feel”, which is an intangible, hard to train and hard to teach part of the game. Some believe it is a natural gift, some believe it is attained and some like me, believe it is a combination of both. For me, the belly putter reduced my feel and feedback from a struck putt. With the short putter, I can usually feel right away when a putt is struck if it has a good chance or not to be close or go into the cup.
I do wonder if not for 3 of the last 5 Major Champions winning using anchored putters if the ruling bodies would have minded as much?? Maybe they still would have made the change but for the average golfer not on tour or those with neurological issues or a bad back why take it from them?? I believe some exception will be made for non competing amateurs who just play for fun. And if you are playing for “fun” then you can certainly make your own rules as so many already do!!