What you need to know about the ban on anchoring the golf club

The ban on anchoring the golf club is here, but what exactly does this mean?

As the clock ticked over to the start of 2016 and you were doing your best to stay anchored to the planet – you were no doubt fully aware that the ban on anchoring the golf club had come into effect. Despite the new rule affecting just a small proportion of golfers, it’s been a controversial decision by golf’s governing bodies the R&A and the USGA.

There will be plenty of chatter about this new rule at your club and with your golfing mates over the coming weeks so we thought we’d answer some of the most common questions about the anchoring ban so you can set the story straight.

What does the rule say?
The R&A and USGA created rule 14-1b to deal with the enforcement of the anchoring ban and in the official Rules of Golf, it states:

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.

Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.

Does this mean a change of putter for some golfers?
This is not a change to the equipment but a change to the method of playing a stroke. It is still possible to use a broomstick or long putter, it just needs to be used in such a way that it is not anchored to the body.

Bracing the club to the forearm is not deemed as being anchored to the body. Image courtesy of The R&A.
Bracing the club to the forearm is not deemed as being anchored to the body. Image courtesy of The R&A.

Can a the club still be braced against the forearm?
Perhaps some strangely, yes.
The R&A have deemed that this Matt Kuchar style of putting is allowed under the new rules as the putter is not being anchored above the elbow.

Can a forearm be braced against the body?
Well it depends on what grip is being used.
This is one of the more confusing aspects of the new rule. You may rest one or both forearms against your body, but only if your hands are together on the grip of the club. If you choose to separate your hands on the grip of the club then you cannot rest your forearms against your body as it is deemed to be an anchor point.

Can a golfer anchor the golf club for the back-swing only?
The new rule applies to the the stroke only – considered to be the forward movement of the club with the intention of hitting the golf ball. So if you want to anchor the club on your backswing, go right ahead, just don’t do it on the follow through. Editor’s note: I’d be very careful doing this – you’re just asking for trouble.

Will there be a penalty if a golfer’s forearm accidentally brushes the body on the way through?
As outlined by one of the decisions relating to Rule 14-1b: “The prohibition in Rule 14-1b applies only to a player who intentionally anchors a club, either directly or through use of an anchor point, in making a stroke.” The same goes for clothing too, but if a golfer “intentionally use the club or a gripping hand to press an article of clothing against any part of his body, other than the forearm or a gripping hand, he would be in breach of this Rule.”

Is this the only new rule?
The anchoring ban is just one of four new rules introduced in 2016. Others include a chance to the penalty applied for an incorrect scorecard, the withdrawal of a penalty for the ball moving at address if not caused by golfer and a change to the penalty for using an artificial device. See here for more details.

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