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Say goodbye to the anchored stroke and “U”-grooves: USGA and R&A implement two equipment rules

November 22, 2013

Over the past four years, the governing bodies of professional golf have adopted two questionable rules dealing with equipment.

The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient (R&A) are the two organizations that govern the rules of amateur and professional golf worldwide. These organizations are tasked with creating, interpreting and maintaining the rules of golf. Although the USGA deals with North American golf associations like the PGA Tour and the R&A deals with European golf associations like the European Tour, both have decided to implement two rules that are set to change the way we play golf.

The first rule, installed at the beginning of the 2010 season, is what has been called the “V-groove” rule. Both governing bodies decided to implement this rule due to the advancement of golf equipment. Because modern golf technology has made older, shorter golf courses obsolete, the USGA and R&A decided to decrease the size of grooves on all clubs from Box-grooves or U-grooves to smaller V-grooves. The idea is by creating smaller, less-sharp grooves, players will be penalized when having to hit from the rough around the green. This rule intends to make hitting the ball straighter more important than hitting the ball farther.

The second rule the USGA and the R&A implemented is the banishment of anchoring long putters or belly putters. Both organizations were adamant that they are not banishing the equipment; rather, they are simply stating that it will become illegal to anchor a club to ones self during the process of a putting stroke. This rule was created to uphold the fact that the golf swing and putting stroke are meant to swing freely without help, like in the case of anchoring the putter. The USGA and R&A feel like this has been an unfair advantage to players who are allowed to anchor the end of putter to their body.

The anchoring rule will go into effect on professional tours beginning in 2016. This will allow players who are currently using the anchoring technique a chance to adapt without hurting their golf game.

When it comes down to it I believe that these rules are necessary and understandable. Although I believe that something should be done about the grooves of the clubs, I don’t feel that allowing a player to anchor his or her club really creates a huge advantage.

When it comes to grooves, I think that this rule will put more urgency on hitting more fairways and greens. If I am not able to spin the ball from the rough around the greens I am less likely to shoot at a pin or go for the green in two. This rule puts more of an emphasis on course management and hitting good, solid golf shots.

On the other hand, not allowing a player to anchor a club is ridiculous. Of course anchoring gives certain advantages to players who use them but also makes certain putts more difficult. Allowing a player to anchor the putter gives them much more feel. This allows them to hit lag putts closer and three-putt less often. Although three putting might happen less often, anchoring a putter makes putts within five feet difficult to make.

In the end, the rules that the USGA and R&A have created help the game of golf mesh with new and upcoming technology. Although I believe the anchoring rule is unneeded, the governing bodies of golf have given ample evidence that these types of strokes break the traditional rules of golf and are thus implemented.

Mike Olszewski
Sports Editor

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