Anchoring Ban in Golf and Grips/Strokes It Permits and Prohibits

Anchoring a Belly Putter
Anchoring a belly putter into one's midsection will be prohibited by Rule 14-1b, although belly putters themselves could still be used without anchoring. Jim Rogash / Getty Images

After years of discussion and debate, golf's governing bodies acted to put a stop to anchoring in golf. "Anchoring" refers to the act of bracing the grip-end of a golf club against one's body during the stroke, or of bracing the top hand on the grip or the forearm against one's body to create a stable "anchor point."

Today, anchoring of any stroke is banned in golf.

Anchoring entered golf in much wider usage beginning in the 1980s with the introduction of long putters, a k a broomstick putters, which were braced against the golfer's chest or chin, creating a stable fulcrum point for the putting stroke. Later, belly putters arrived, and they were anchored into one's stomach or sternum for the same effect.

But the R&A and USGA finally decided that anchoring and the use of "anchor points" during the putting stroke (or any other stroke) is not in keeping with the traditional method of making a stroke: with the hands away from the body and swinging the club freely.

So, on Nov. 28, 2012, the R&A and USGA announced the proposed wording of a new rule to ban anchored strokes. A 90-day comment period followed and then, after a short break, the governing bodies announced on May 21, 2013, that a ban on anchored strokes would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, and that ban on anchoring is now part of the Rules of Golf.

The rule introduced in 2016 was Rule 14-1b. In the edition of the Rules of Golf in effect today, the anchoring ban is covered under Rule 10.1b.

Here is how the original Rule 14-1b read at the time it went into effect:

14-1b Anchoring the Club
In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either "directly" or by use of an "anchor point."
Note 1: The club is anchored "directly" when the player intentionally holds the club or a gripping hand in contact with any part of his body, except that the player may hold the club or a gripping hand against a hand or forearm.
Note 2: An "anchor point" exists when the player intentionally holds a forearm in contact with any part of his body to establish a gripping hand as a stable point around which the other hand may swing the club.

And this how Rule 10.1b, now in effect, reads:

In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either:
*Directly, by holding the club or a gripping hand against any part of the body (except that the player may hold the club or a gripping hand against a hand or forearm), or
*Indirectly, through use of an “anchor point,” by 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.
If the player’s club, gripping hand or forearm merely touches his or her body or clothing during the stroke, without being held against the body, there is no breach of this Rule.

The penalty for violating Rule 10.1b is loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Are Belly Putters and Long Putters Banned?

No. Very important point: The ban on anchoring was (and is) not a change to equipment rules. Belly putters and long putters remain completely legal to use, so long as they are conforming to equipment rules.

What Rule 10.1b addresses is the stroke, not the club being used to make the stroke. So if you putt with a belly putter or long putter, the anchoring ban does not require you to stop doing that. It only prohibits the anchoring of those (and all other) clubs.

What Types of Grips/Strokes Does Rule 10.1b Permit and Prohibit?

Any type of grip or stroke that does not involve anchoring the butt end of the club against the body, or anchoring a hand or forearm against the body to create an "anchor point," was unaffected by this rule change.

A conventional putting stroke, for example, is unaffected. So is cross-handed putting and the claw grip, among many other types of putting grips and strokes. You can even keep putting with a belly or broomstick putter so long as you do not anchor (for example, using a conventional putting grip/stroke with a belly putter; or using a long putter but holding the top of the grip away from the chest rather than pressed up against the chest).

Check out Rule 10 on the R&A website to view illustrations that show golfers what types of putting stroke are and are not allowed under the anchoring ban.

Does the Ban on Anchoring Only Apply to Putting Strokes?

No, anchoring any club during a stroke is banned by the rule change. But for practical purposes, only putting methods are affected (since nobody anchors any other type of stroke).