RENSLOW: Playing within the rules
Anchors away! Regardless of where one falls in the debate (which has been argued prior to 2013 when the USGA announced the change), playing within the rules now means that golfers may not anchor a golf club against their body while hitting a shot.
The premise, from the USGA and R&A (golf’s governing bodies), is that a swing should be free. “Freely swinging the club is the essence of the traditional method of stroke, and anchoring is a substantially different form of the stroke that may alter and diminish the fundamental challenges of the game.” A golf club should not be fixed for any shot.
For most of us, this is not a catastrophic bit of news. Either we never used that type of approach or, quite simply, we’re not qualifying for the U.S. Open anytime soon. If you’re just playing a $2 nassau with your regular foursome odds are that long putter against your chest will not become an issue.
Yet, even at a local level this new rule may affect your game. Are you playing in your Club Championship or teeing it up in an NCGA event? If so, you will need to take this rule to heart.
Here is Rule 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.
Penalty: Match play —Loss of hole; Stroke play — Two strokes.
The key is to avoid holding the golf club against any part of your body. However, for this rule, your forearm does not count. Candidly, holding the club against your forearm would still seem to be an anchor point, not allowing the club to swing freely. Which is one of the reasons this rule has been so hotly contested. Nonetheless, this may give some hope to those trying to make a transition.
For years, a number of golf’s elite have been using this anchor style of putting. Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, and Tim Clark used a long putter against their chest, while guys such as Fred Couples and Vijay Singh implemented the so-called ‘belly’ putters.
It’s important to note that the rules on equipment have not changed. One may still use a long putter, we just can’t position it against our body. Bernhard Langer, for example, is still using a long putter. He is holding the butt end with is hand, yet not against his chest. It is free.
So, for those of us who have become quite comfortable with an anchored style, what do we do? Answer — have fun with it. Try a long putter away from your chest like Langer. Grab a mid-length putter and position it against your forearm. Try cross-handed, for the right handed player, this would be called ‘left hand low’. Heck, I have a friend who decided to try it from the other side and is putting left-handed.
Who knows? The rule that some have dreaded since it was announced might just be a blessing in disguise.
John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at email@example.com.
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