May 21, 2013
Dear USGA Member:
The USGA cherishes its strong relationship with our Members, and we appreciate the support you provide in helping us lead the game toward a sustainable future. Your membership bolsters the critical mission of the USGA in many important ways and has helped to make the game more enjoyable for golfers of all ages and skill levels.
Recognizing the role that you play in all we do to protect and nurture the game, we want you to be among the first to know about an important announcement.
Last November, after an extensive review, the USGA and The R&A proposed Rule 14-1b, a new entry to the Rules of Golf that prohibits anchoring the club in making a stroke. This morning, together with The R&A, we are announcing the adoption of Rule 14-1b for players at all levels of the game, effective January 1, 2016.
Final approval of Rule 14-1b follows a comprehensive and unprecedented process for playing Rules in which comments and suggestions from across the golf community were collected and considered. In our best judgment and having considered all of the input that we received, both before and after the proposed Rule was announced, we concluded that Rule 14-1b was necessary to protect the essential nature of the traditional method of stroke and eliminate potential advantages that anchoring the club provides.
Throughout the game's 600-year history, the essence of the traditional method of golf stroke has involved swinging the club with both the club and gripping hands held away from the body, requiring the player to direct and control the movement of the entire club. Anchoring one end of the club against the body, and creating a point of physical attachment around which the club is swung, is a substantial departure from the traditional swing. Our judgment, based on tradition, observation and experience, is that anchoring creates an unacceptable risk of changing and reducing the challenge of making a golf stroke.
The new Rule does not alter current equipment standards and allows for the use of all conforming golf clubs, including mid-length and long putters, provided such clubs are used in a non-anchored manner. The Rule narrowly targets only a few types of strokes in which the club is anchored, while preserving a golfer's ability to play with a variety of permissible gripping styles, putter types and swing methods.
The effective date of January 1, 2016, at the start of the next four-year cycle for revisions to the Rules of Golf, provides an extended period in which golfers currently using an anchored stroke may adapt their method of stroke, if necessary, to conform to the requirements of the new Rule.
We know that not everyone will agree with our final decision. However, we hope the new Rule will bring to a close the longstanding, controversial debate about anchored putting and its place in the game. Of equal importance, we hope that those who have expressed concerns know that they have been heard; can understand our reasons for concluding that Rule 14-1b is in the best interests of the game; and will now join with us in assisting any golfers who need help moving to a non-anchored stroke.
Recognizing that you may have questions, and that you may also want to share this information with fellow golfers, we have developed videos, images, graphics and other materials that are available at www.usga.org/anchoring
to help you become more familiar with the specifics of Rule 14-b. We have also provided a comprehensive document that explains the basis for our final decision and addresses the primary questions and concerns voiced by those who expressed opposition to the new Rule.
Thank you for your support and passion for the game as we continue to serve all golfers around the world and work to secure the health and traditions of the game for current players and for future generations.