Anchoring Decision

Frank, you have been very vocal about the proposed anchoring rule and now that the USGA has adopted the rule, banning anchoring what do you think will happen if the PGA Tour don’t want to adopt it? Is this going to lead to two sets of rules and will it hurt the game? Thanks for your weekly and honest opinions.

David, NC


Thank you for your question and I am pleased you are enjoying the weekly communications with our Frankly Friends and other visitors to the site.

My major concern about anchoring is that the rule is difficult to interpret and monitor and will rely on the integrity and intentions of the golfer, not what the referee sees and interprets to be the case.

 I do applaud the USGA and R&A for emphasizing the reliance on the integrity of the golfer to self-enforce this rule. Calling ourselves on rules infractions is the foundation and very essence of our game and it is only this that will make the rule truly enforceable.   

I only wish we would apply the same thinking to performance enhancing substances –i.e. adopt a rule which states that, “Performance enhancing substances are not permitted” — and then rely on the golfer to enforce it as he does with other rules infractions. We seemingly distrust golfers and take the personal responsibility and obligation away from him, handing this over to a testing agent who has no idea of the golfer’s intentions. As long as he passes the test – which may not catch everything – then the golfer is good to go, irrespective of what his intentions are regarding abiding by the rule. In so doing we have irrevocably fractured the foundation of our game.

 With regard to the PGA Tour they have made a statement which states in part;

“We will now begin our process to ascertain whether the various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions and, if so, examine the process for implementation,” the PGA TOUR said in a statement. “In this regard, over the next month we will engage in discussions with our Player Advisory Council and Policy Board members. We will announce our position regarding the application of Rule 14-1b to our competitions upon conclusion of our process and we will have no further comment on the matter until that time. “

David, I think and hope, that the PGA Tour will do what is in the best interests of the game which is not to bifurcate the rules.

Anchoring is not really a performance issue – the statistics show this to be the case – but trying to dictate how to hold a putter or any club is cumbersome and fraught with enforcement, monitoring and implementation, problems.

We can putt better without anchoring as has been demonstrated by the best putters on tour and reinforced by our research on how to teach putting (see “The Fundamentals of Putting” and/or visit our Putting Academy (PAD) at Reunion Resort in Orlando).  It does however require a little work but it is well worth it.

For most of us we look for an easy solution to our problems and seek out a crutch to patch the problem rather find and correct the root cause and cure it.

 Hope this helps. Tell us what you think by sharing your views on this decision below.


24 thoughts on “Anchoring Decision

  1. The “One-ball rule” used on tour is a “condition of competition” by which none of “us” play. It will be no problem for the PGA Tour to institute a similar rule for its events. It will make it tricky for the US Open and Open Championship, but that’s no reason not to do it. It wouldn’t surprise me to see it on the Champions Tour at the very least.

    The PGA of America was opposed to this as well. All an individual course or club has to do is make a “local rule” permitting anchoring. There’s a course in Orlando that actually has a local rule permitting a mulligan from the first tee. You can make a local rule for anything.

    I never wanted to see bifurcation, but the USGA has brought this on themselves.

  2. Let me ask those who object to anchoring a question, “would you allow a pro to use a new type of putter to putt the ball with a pool/snooker like shot–prone on the ground.” If that is acceptable to you, then I agree we should allow anchoring.

    If not, then anchoring, which is a new type of swing , should not be allowed as it allows pros( the amateur can use anchored putters for all I care) who can’t use a normal putter, a new type a swing which is an unfair advantage.

    In another game,cricket , the bowler needs to bowl with a straight arm. Allowing a bent arm would give him a huge advantage which is therefore not allowedby the authorities.

    • And bowlers routinely break that rule, they just do it discretely. Billy Casper routinely anchored his left hand on his left thigh, and won 51 PGA Tour events doing it. Paul Runyan used a split-handed grip, like Ty Cobb in baseball. Annika Sorenstam putted pretty well with a left-hand-low grip.
      I’m pretty sure Dave Pelz got it right when he said that the longer the putt, the better a short shaft works, and the shorter putts are more certain with a longer putter. That’s because the longer the shaft, the easier it is to control the line, and the shorter the shaft, the easier it is to control the distance.

      • No I would not allow a pool type shot because it has already been ruled illegal. Long putters have been around for 60 years. thats SIX DECADES. Why change it now?
        Change it now because it doesn’t look good??? Please USGA work on the rules that need corrected.

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