Bernard Langer, Brandel Chamblee and the anchoring ban controversy

The rules of golf on anchoring may need to be re-written after a closer look at a few golfers still using the long putter.

When the R&A and the USGA placed a ban on anchoring the golf club at the beginning of 2016, some people wondered how exactly they were going to police the new rule. And the fears have been realised over the last few weeks with some raising eyebrows over the putting style of Champions Tour golfers who still use the long putter, Bernard Langer and Scott McCarron.

Rather than ban the long putter (or a long golf club in general) golf’s governing bodies elected to draw up some rules on how the club can be held. For example you can still use the long putter with the hands separated, and you can brush the putter against clothing but you can’t stabilise it against the body. You also can’t brace the end of the putter against your forearm but the putter grip can sit up against the forearm – Matt Kuchar style.

So if the golfers hands can brush up against clothing while using a long putter it was always going to be difficult to tell if its being braced against the body, or simply very, very close to it.

In other words, it was always going to be difficult to tell if a golfer is breaking the anchoring ban rule, or not.

Golf Channel commentator Brandel Chamblee was one of the first who raised the issue while watching the Champions Tour and while no names were mentioned it was pretty obvious the subjects of his tweet were Bernard Langer and Scott McCarron:

And then:

And this image is pretty damning… or at least looks like it should be looked at.

Chamblee went on to write a piece outlining why it’s difficult for golf officials to make any ruling on this, and it all revolves around the word ‘intent’.

Anchoring is NOT deemed to have happened when and if a player holds the club, or the gripping hand, or a part of the forearm against the body, relieving the player from making a free swing by restricting the movement of the club as if it were physically attached to the player’s body and thereby providing extra support and stability for the stroke … if the player, regardless of having done all of the above, merely states that it was not their “intent” to have done so. That it was not their “intent” to have anchored.

Going on to say…

It appears that the governing bodies in an attempt to soften the blow of taking the long putters away from the world of bad-back and flinch-afflicted golfers, at the very least provided a loophole and at the very worst abdicated the throne of governance.

Adam Scott threw the long putter away all together once the ban came in to avoid any issues, but these older players weren’t so keen to do the same and must have expected that their technique would court controversy at some stage.

In some ways golf officials hands are tied because all a golfer needs to do is suggest that there was no intent to anchor the golf club and they in the clear. It seems this may need to be re-written if the USGA and R&A are serious about stamping out any form of potential anchoring.

Perhaps they should have just reduced the size of the putter in the first place. Or maybe gone down the road of bifurcation. Meaning that anchoring could be banned for professionals, or maybe just on some professional golf tours and still allowed on the Champions Tour and in amateur golf.

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