By: Dennis R. Stout
No, this does not refer to the recent resolution of the Los Angeles/Long Beach port strike, but to the equally recent decision by the R&A (Royal and Ancient) and USGA (United States Golf Association) to ban the use of belly putters and broom-handle putters effective in 2016. The proposed rule of golf reads as follows:
Rule 14-1(b): in making a stroke, the player must not anchor
the club, either ‘directly’ or by the use of an ‘anchor point.’
As with any type of rule change or change in law, the threat of litigation looms from those who have become accustomed to the belly approach. The great debate is whether the process of anchoring the putter qualifies as a “stroke” of the golf club (requiring the player to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball) or whether anchoring the club creates some form of advantage. Let the debate/litigation begin.
The R&A and the USGA are attempting to do that which is in the best interest of the sport, or level the playing field. Proponents of the belly putter and broom handle putters dispute any advantage and claim to fight the R&A/USGA, and their selective prosecution of those with a different approach to the putting “stroke”, claiming there is no distinct advantage to the anchoring method(s).
Our approach at Heiting & Irwin is to represent the best intent to our clients, following all the appropriate rules, procedures, and laws… even when they change! We update ourselves constantly on all important changes in the law, whether they apply to golf, law or life! Stay tuned for further developments as they occur.