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Anchoring putters banned from 2016

Adam Scott lines up a putt with his broom-handle putter at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2013
Australia's Adam Scott lines up a putt with his broom-handle putter during the final round of the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2013. Golf's ruling bodies announced on Tuesday that anchored putters will be banned from

Golf's ruling bodies on Tuesday announced that anchoring putters will be banned from the start of 2016.

The anchored putting stroke has been in the spotlight since being used by a clutch of players to win major championships recently, with the latest being Adam Scott, who used a broom-handle putter to win the Masters at Augusta in April.

Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship in 2011 using a putter anchored to his stomach whilst Ernie Els and Webb Simpson used similar implements to land majors last season

But the R&A and the United States Golf Association have agreed that, from January 1 2016, anchoring the putter in making a stroke will be prohibited, although the clubs themselves will not be banned.

The penalty for anchoring the club during the stroke will be two shots in stroke play and loss of the hole in match play.

Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A, said in a statement: "We took a great deal of time to consider this issue and received a variety of contributions from individuals and organisations at all levels of the game.

"The report published today gives a comprehensive account of the reasons for taking the decision to adopt the new Rule and addresses the concerns that have been raised.

"We recognise this has been a divisive issue but, after thorough consideration, we remain convinced that this is the right decision for golf."

"Having considered all of the input that we received, both before and after the proposed Rule was announced, our best judgement is that Rule 14-1b is necessary to preserve one of the important traditions and challenges of the game - that the player freely swing the entire club," added USGA President Glen D. Nager.

"The new Rule upholds the essential nature of the traditional method of stroke and eliminates the possible advantage that anchoring provides, ensuring that players of all skill levels face the same challenge inherent in the game of golf."

Dawson told reporters at Wentworth that he hoped there would be no protracted legal disputes and that the move would be accepted by the game in general.

The R&A had 450 comments on the matter, both for and against, whilst the USGA attracted 2,200 comments.

Dawson said: "We have had some opposition and some support - it has been a mixture. It is best for the game that we all get behind this and move forward.

"The governing bodies have always had the right to make rule changes and we have done a huge amount of work on this."

World number one Tiger Woods has already given his backing to the change, as has South African legend Gary Player, who claimed anchoring putters took the nerves out of the game.

The ban will not be retrospective so Bradley, Simpson, Scott and Els will keep their places in the record books.

David Rickman, Executive Director of Rules and Equipment Standards at The R&A, said: "This Rule change addresses the future and not the past. Everyone who has used an anchored stroke in the past, or who does so between now and 1 January 2016, will have played entirely within the Rules and their achievements will in no way be diminished."

A statement from the US PGA Tour today read: "We will now begin our process to ascertain whether the various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions and, if so, examine the process for implementation.

"In this regard, over the next month we will engage in discussions with our Player Advisory Council and Policy Board members.

"We will announce our position regarding the application of Rule 14-1b to our competitions upon conclusion of our process and we will have no further comment on the matter until that time."

Former European number one Colin Montgomerie told Sky Sports News: "I'm glad common sense has prevailed and anchor putters will be no more - it will be banned and rightly so. I wish it had come earlier to be honest.

"Manufacturers have already started counter balancing putters. The feel is the same as a belly putter but it doesn't touch the body so it is legal."

The threat of legal action from players using anchored strokes has been mooted, including former USPGA Championship winner Bradley, but Montgomerie added: "Let's hope not. He's entitled to do whatever he wants to do but let's hope not. Let's hope he abides by the rules. For one guy to start suing - no, we don't want that to happen."