The Niggle: Is the 2016 anchored putting ban correct?

As Keegan Bradley switches to a shorter putter, we debate whether or not the 2016 anchored putting ban is the right move.

When the R&A and the USGA announced a ban on anchored putting strokes, the reaction from the golfing world was mixed.

A survey of keen golfers revealed 45 per cent believed anchoring made it easier to putt with 55 per cent stating they didn’t think it made putting easier.

In terms of whether or not the ban was correct, 60 per cent believed it was, 40 per cent thought the ban was a wrong move.

Keegan Bradley, who became the first major winner with an anchored putting stroke at the 2011 PGA Championship, changed his stroke at last week’s Memorial Tournament.

World number one Adam Scott continues to anchor his broom-handled putter against his chest which will be illegal at the start of 2016.

James Savage and Alessa Hardwick – a non-golfer new to the sport – debate whether or not the ban is the right move by golf’s governing bodies.

AH – There needs to be a level playing field in golf. It is a fairer test of ability if everyone is doing things the same way. Anchoring is using other parts of the body to make a hinge-like stroke which is probably easier to repeat. The ban is a good thing as it make  it fairer for those who don’t anchor the putter.

JS – I don’t think there is enough evidence to suggest the anchoring method gives an unfair advantage. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy managed to win more than 20 majors between them without anchoring. Adam Scott, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley won their majors by being the best players over four days – not because they anchored their putters.
If Adam Scott comes tumbling down the world rankings I’d say that is quite a significant impact AH – If people were just using belly putters to cure their woes or health problems it not as much of a problem. The option of anchored putting can help more people enjoy the game which is important. But when youngsters are actually starting to learn with an anchored stroke – 14-year-old Guan Tianlang used a belly putter at the 2013 Masters – it must be offering an advantage.

JS – I think if you look at the putting stats on both the PGA Tour and European Tour and look at the Official World Golf Rankings the top players – and putters – don’t use an anchored stroke. Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson have both dropped out of the world’s top 25 and you have to scroll quite far down to find some of the others who don’t opt for the traditional method. I can’t see the ban having much of an impact at all.

AH – Well we’ll have to wait and see. If Adam Scott comes tumbling down the world rankings I’d say that is quite a significant impact. But he has got plenty of time to practice an alternative. 

JS – Let’s not forget the ban also affects amateurs. If not being able to use an anchored stroke is ruining players’ enjoyment of the game then the ban will have a negative effect. The aim of golf’s governing bodies should be to make the sport accessible to all – make it easier for people to play and enjoy.


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