Nothing gets us going like a long putter appearing on TV. But what do the Rules of Golf say about anchored putters? Our expert Steve Carroll is on hand to guide you
Some things in golf seem to be on an endless cycle – and accusations over whether a player is anchoring or not is one of those rinse and repeat issues that never seems to go away.
In fact, since the practice was outlawed in the Rules of Golf in 2016, the mere sight of a long putter on the TV appears to be all it takes to start the row all over again.
Accusations and mudslinging aside, though, how much do you really know about Rule 10.1b, which covers Anchoring the Club?
In the spirit of information giving, let’s see what is allowed and what is not…
What is anchoring in golf?
When making a stroke, Rule 10.1b says a player “must” not anchor the club. That is either by:
– Doing it “directly”, by holding the club or a “gripping hand” against any part of the body or…
– Using an anchor point and holding a forearm “against any part of the body to use a gripping hand as a stable point around which the other hand may swing the club”.
You are allowed to hold the club, or gripping hand, against a hand or forearm and if your club, clothes, or that gripping hand, “merely touch” your body or clothing during a stroke – without being held against them – then you won’t be guilty of anchoring.
Now, if that sounds a touch on the complex side, there is a diagram in the Rules of Golf that helps to spell it out in pictures.
Look it up for yourselves but, essentially it goes like this: Grip resting against forearm (a la Bryson DeChambeau) is fine. Using a long putter whether neither the forearm, nor the gripping hand touches the body, is also perfectly acceptable.
But holding a club against a stomach? No. Placing your forearm or gripping hand against your chest is also out.
OK, so why is anchored putting controversial?
There is some quite important things to note in the interpretations to Rule 10.1b, and you wouldn’t see these unless you delved into the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf.
Interpretation 10.1b/3, for example, reveals that inadvertently touching your clothing during a stroke is not anchoring.
So you might see on the TV a long putter brushing a jacket or a shirt as a stroke is made and cry foul. But as long as that is not done deliberately, it is not a breach of the rule.
Some other examples are outlined, including situations where a player “holds the club extremely close to the body’, or “has a physical size or build that causes the arms naturally to rest close to the body”.
You might also have noticed by now that if clothing is touched deliberately there is going to be a sanction.
That’s covered in an earlier interpretation, which says that clothing which is held against the body by either the club or gripping hand is “treated as if it’s part of the player’s body for the purpose of applying Rule 10.1b”.
It adds: “The concept of a free-flowing swing may not be circumvented by having something intervene between the player’s body and club or hand”.
An example explains it further, citing a player wearing a rain jacket and pressing a mid-length putter into their body. This would be anchoring.
How can we tell if someone is anchoring?
That’s the $64,000 question and, ultimately, it goes back to the first principles in the Rules. It is down to us – as players – to play by the rules and in the spirit of the game and to apply our own penalties if we breach a rule.
So unless someone is clearly anchoring in the ways we’ve already described, you’ll just have to take their word for it that they are not.
What is the penalty for anchoring?
In match play? It’s loss of hole. Don’t do it again. If it happens in stroke play, the stroke counts and a two-shot penalty applies.