Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Anchoring the Club

Permitted putting strokes, from the R&A and USGA infographic
Following the announcement of the revisions to the 2016 Rules of Golf, on which I commented in my blog last week, I have received a few questions concerning the new Rule 14-1b - Anchoring the Club. Before I answer them here is what the Rule states;
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.
The Ruling Bodies have provided this explanation as to why the change is being made;
“A stroke is a fundamental element that defines the game of golf and is meant to involve the player freely swinging the entire club at the ball. Anchoring the club relieves the player from making a free swing by restricting the movement of the club as if it were physically attached to the player’s body and thereby providing extra support and stability for the stroke.”
Now let me clarify some of the salient points that have been raised.
•    Rule 14-1b is not an equipment Rule. There is nothing in the revised Rules for 2016 to stop a player using any conforming mid-length or long-handled putter, providing they do not anchor the club while making a stroke.
•    The prohibition on anchoring applies to all types of stroke (i.e. putts, chip shots, pitch shots, full-length shots, etc.), regardless of where those strokes are made (i.e., putting green, fringe, fairway, rough, tee, and everywhere else on the course.)
•    Rule 14-1b applies to all amateur and professional golfers playing in any competition that is being played in accordance with the Rules of Golf, as laid down by the R&A and USGA.
•    If a player does carry a long-handled putter amongst the 14 clubs that they are permitted, they may use it for measuring club-lengths.
•    The penalty for anchoring a club while making a stroke is two strokes in stroke play and loss of hole in match play, on each occasion that the Rule is breached.
•    American Pro golfer, Matt Kuchar, has been using a method of putting with a long-handled putter that is still permitted. He holds the club grip against his forearm (i.e. below his elbow) when making a stroke. If you are interested in seeing his method in a short YouTube video, click here.
•    A Committee may not introduce a Local Rule, or Condition of Competition, to permit anchoring by any competitor. Anchoring during a stroke is not a local, abnormal condition and to permit it would waive a fundamental Rule of Golf. There are no exceptions for seniors, or golfers with a medical condition.

For most of us the new Rule 14-1b will be of little consequence, as we have never resorted to using longer than standard putters. However, for those of you that believe that a long-handled putter may assist your golf, or may keep you playing the game for longer, you should fully understand the nuances of the prohibition of anchoring. I strongly recommend that you visit the excellent, on-line resources provided by R&A and USGA at these links;


Good golfing,


The new Rules of Golf books should soon be available through your Golf Club or Society, courtesy of the sponsor, Rolex. I hope to be providing a link to the new ‘Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2016-2017’ book on my RhodesRulesSchool.com web site, by the end of this week.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2015 and may not be copied without permission.


Jonathan Fisher said...

I find that making my elbows lightly touch the bottom of my rib cage helps me create a more accurate "straight back, straight through" swing. Is this legal under the Rules?

Barry Rhodes said...


I am confident that you are safe with that method of putting; lightly touching is not anchoring, although if you were wearing bulky wet gear it might be difficult for anyone to be sure.


Jonathan Fisher said...

Thanks Barry. Love the site!

By the way, i think this change to the rules is so miserly and unnecessary. It's not like scores have collapsed due to anchoring. All the majors last year were won by traditional putters. If anything scores have been affected by insane developments in ball technology.

All this will succeed in doing is turning amateurs off the game at a time when golf sorely needs to grow, in my opinion.

Barry Rhodes said...


I respect your opinion, but think that your conclusion is wrong. I think that the subject of 'anchoring' will be forgotten very quickly. In my opinion, a bigger problem facing golf is the fact that players new to the game do not expect to be on the course for up to 5 hours, when most other forms of entertainment take half of this time, e.g. soccer, rugby, golf, tennis, cinema, theatre, playing cards and eating out.


Jonathan Fisher said...

I think that's true Barry, and it's quite sad. One of the things I love about golf is that I have to clear a whole day of my schedule to play it!

People more generally should prioritise time set aside to take care of their physical and mental selves. No aspect of my life has suffered because I play golf for 5 hours on a Saturday. I know here in Australia some solutions being offered are to have shorter courses (12 hole courses for instance) and 9-hole competitions. I dream of a time in which the local golf course is filled on a Saturday morning with people of all genders and ages...

But I do think that another important reason that people give up golf in the early going is because it is so darn hard. Making good contact is very difficult when one first starts playing the game, and I think the powers that be really should be doing all they can to make the game easy to take up rather than easier to give up!

As for anchoring, I still think it's really a 'so what?' aspect of the game. I personally find anchored putting harder and I don't think it compromises the game to allow it.

Anonymous said...

For now, the debate is over. Yea or nay, just get on with playing by the Rules and enjoying the great game.

3 Jack Almanac said...

I too feel the time spent is a huge deterrent to the game. Especially for M - F working people. There are few rounds around 4 hours on public courses on the weekends anymore. Most 5 plus hours. Unless you join a league, it is hard to play during the weeknights at times. And now, solo rounds are no longer permitted to calculate handicaps. None of the above do any good for the game. Now finding the solutions is always harder...

Barry Rhodes said...


I agree with you re 18 holes taking too long, but not re solo rounds counting for handicaps. Although I do not pretend to be an expert on the different handicapping systems, I think that solo rounds only counted for handicaps in US and Mexico and nowhere else in the golfing world. It seems to me that this is a first step in the proposed unification of handicapping systems.