New rule: A long putter is okay, but be careful how you grip it

2012-12-07 00:00

LAST week the ruling bodies of world golf, the Royal & Ancient and the United States Golf Association, jointly released news concerning long putters. There are two types: the extra long, which is aptly called the broomstick, and the shorter belly putter.

Golfers who use long putters have been waiting for the ruling. There were fears that the putters would be banned, but with hundreds of thousands of these in use around the world, it was unlikely that this would happen.

So what is the ruling? It’s important to note that long putters have not been banned, but the way that the putters are held or gripped has been outlawed. It is also important for golfers to be aware that the new rule will not take effect until January 2016.

The rule will be 14-1b in the new rule book, which will cover the period for 2016 to 2019. This new rule will prohibit strokes made with the club, or 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 wording will be: “In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either ‘directly’ or by use of an ‘anchor point’”.

There will also be explanations. 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 penalty for breach of rule is two strokes in strokeplay and loss of hole in matchplay as with the current rule 14-1.

It took so long to make this ruling. Bernhard Langer has used a long putter for about 30 years and has tried just about every grip imaginable, so perhaps he will be able to adjust his style accordingly. Players such as Tim Clark, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Carl Petterson, to name just a few, have hardly ever used a short conventional putter and may have difficulty changing. Others, such as Ernie Els, Adam Scott and Veejay Singh, moved to a longer putter because they struggled with the conventional short stick. Both amateurs and professionals have three years to practise not anchoring.

From the 19th hole

Three old golfers, Sam, Harry and Fred, were sitting together after their weekly game of golf. These are some of the things they were overheard saying to each other:

Sam said: “A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy.”

Harry said: “A girl said she recognised me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.”

Fred said: “Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?”

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