THE USGA AND R&A have scheduled an international media teleconference for this morning, when they’re expected to announce that anchoring putters — or any other club — to your body will no longer be allowed under the rules of golf, effective 2016.
The hints and rumors have been out there for a while that the days of Webb Simpson sticking the grip end of a putter into his navel or Adam Scott resting one end of his broomstick putter against his sternum are coming to an end.
The teleconference is expected to make it quasi-official. It will become officially official next year when both of golf’s ruling parties hold their official meetings, and then the ban will go into effect in 2016.
It seems unlikely there would be a global teleconference to announce the rules aren’t changing.
Rules changes in golf — like presidential elections — happen every four years. Golf doesn’t like to rush into things, though it has fast-tracked the expected anchoring ban since officials said a year ago they didn’t see it as a big problem.
Then Keegan Bradley and Simpson and Ernie Els won majors using their particular versions of anchored putters. Els has longed believed anchored putting should be banned but made the switch himself, saying half-jokingly that he would continue to cheat as long as it was allowed.
When approximately 30 percent of the players in the Open Championship last summer were anchoring putters, the old guard went into action even before 14-year-old Guan Tianlang won the Asia-Pacific Amateur and a spot in the Masters using a belly putter.
Too bad they didn’t do something about the golf ball and/or modern drivers, which have done more damage to the game than anchored putting might ever do. Instead, they are “modernizing” the Old Course, a shiver-inducing thought that more aggressive action against technology could have prevented.
If a ban on anchoring is enacted, threats of lawsuits will follow. However, if reports are accurate, belly putters and long putters are not being outlawed in golf. They can be used but they may not be anchored against the body.
A ban would not put an asterisk beside the majors won by Simpson and others. They won playing by the rules just as Bobby Jones won some of his major championships using clubs that were later deemed illegal.