Using the Long Putter: Alternatives to Anchoring

Golfers have asked us if they should get rid of their long putters if the USGA and R&A decide to adopt the proposed rule, which would not permit anchoring.

The answer is, you can keep the long putter in your bag because a slight change in technique – with a few minutes of practice — will work just as well as the original method of anchoring, giving similar results, without “Anchoring the Club.”

First, let us understand the definition of anchoring.

The proposed rule reads:

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.”

 In the explanation of the proposal, it states in part:

 “The proposed Rule 14-1b, which follows an extensive review by The R&A and USGA, would prohibit strokes made with the club or a hand gripping the club held directly against the player’s body, or with a forearm held against the body to establish an anchor point that indirectly anchors the club.

The proposed new Rule would not alter current equipment rules and would allow the continued use of all conforming golf clubs, including belly-length and long putters, provided such clubs are not anchored during a stroke.”

 Once again let me say; the long putter is a crutch BUT a very effective crutch.

If the basic putting problem – which catalyzed the decision to change to a long putter – is so severe that it cannot be fixed or the golfer is not prepared to fix it, then a long putter may be a solution for the following reasons.

There are six Degrees of Freedom (DOF) in putting – 1. up and down; 2. forward and back; 3. in and out; 4. wrist break; 5. rotation of forearms; and 6. swaying left and right during the stroke. If we eliminate any of these degrees of freedom, we simultaneously eliminate the sources of error associated with that movement (For more on this, see “The Fundamentals of Putting”.)

The long putter eliminates # 1. (up and down), # 4. (wrist break), and # 5.  (rotation of forearms), and is thus a more efficient implement than the conventional length putter. You will generally lose a little feel on longer putts but this may be a small price to pay if you have major putting problems, such as the yips.

The way the long putter has been used to date – which seems to have initiated the proposed change  —  is with the left hand (for right handed putters) holding the end of the grip and anchoring this hand against the middle of the chest.

Here are two ways that the golfer can use a long putter without contravening the proposed “anchoring” rule:

  1. The golfer, while maintaining a connection of the upper arm to the body, moves the upper hand and forearm away from the chest, and does not intentionally connect the forearm to the chest to stabilize and create an anchor point.
  2. The golfer anchors the left hand to the body with the left arm away from the body. He then moves the anchored left hand away from the chest by about a half to one-inch and makes the stroke.

To see these two alternative options in action, be sure to watch the video above.

This modified technique will eliminate two degrees of freedom (DOF) # 4 (wrist break) and #5 (rotation of forearms), and minimize #1(up and down), #3 (in and out) and # 6 (swaying left and right).

Using this technique, the golfer must be sure to rock the shoulders, arms, hands and the putter as if these were a fixed unit, pivoting about a point close to or on the spine just below the neck.

Hope this relieves some angst about the proposed rule change.

Frank

Your comments or questions may be sent via the reply section below

4 thoughts on “Using the Long Putter: Alternatives to Anchoring

  1. One of the worst rules in Golf. Driving club Golfers and novice amateurs away from the game when we should be attracting new Golfers to play it. Shame on you R & A and USGA. Pathetic rule.

  2. I use a long putter side saddle. I have always found the moving the left hand slightly away from the body gives the wrist a bit of freedom and allows the putter to pendulum back and through with less wooden motion and better putting overall. Rule change? What rule change.?

  3. I have already been experimenting with this method which will allow me to continue to use a long putter should the anchoring ban become official. An Australian PGA friend of mine who also uses a long putter asked me the other day if it would be permissable to grab your shirt between your hand and the grip as this seems to give a bit more stability. I suspect that this would contravene Rule 14-3.c. Any comments?

  4. Thanks for all thegood information over the years. If one inch , or perhaps even less, of movement beats the “anchoring” rule change, the rule change looks pretty stupid and unneeded. This penchant for the petty shows thelack of depth of wisdom and common sense of the rule makers. Perhaps the rules makers would like to take on the task of explaining how many angels can fit on the head of a pin? Once again much ado about nothing, and the rules makers ignoring the majority of the golfers. I don’t use a long putter anyway so it won’t bother me..

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