With its announcement today of the publication of the 2016 edition of the Rules of Golf, the R&A and USGA officially have sent the anchored putting stroke the way of the stymie as of Jan. 1
The new rules book is the culmination of the normal four-year review cycle and is a collaborative work by the R&A and the USGA that applies worldwide to all golfers – or at least those who play by the rules.
The new Rule 14-1b (Anchoring the Club), which first was announced in May 2013, prohibits anchoring the club either “directly” or by use of an “anchor point” in making a stroke. The penalty is loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play.
Prominent pros who figure to mourn the passing of the anchoring era include Adam Scott, who won the 2013 Masters wielding a broomstick putter with an anchored stroke, and Bernhard Langer, a former yipper who has cleaned up on the Champions Tour using a similar method.
Among other significant changes in the 2016 edition of the rules are:
- Withdrawal of Rule on Ball Moving After Address – Rule 18-2b (Ball at Rest Moved by Player, Partner, Caddie or Equipment) has been withdrawn. This means that if a ball at rest moves after the player addresses it, the player is no longer automatically deemed to have caused the ball to move. A one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 will be applied only when the facts show that the player has caused the ball to move.
- Limited Exception to Disqualification Penalty for Submission of Incorrect Scorecard – A new exception has been introduced to Rule 6-6d (Wrong Score for Hole) to provide that a player is not disqualified for returning a lower score for a hole than actually taken as a result of failing to include penalty strokes that the player did not know were incurred before returning the scorecard. Instead, the player incurs the penalty under the rule that was breached and must add an additional penalty of two strokes for the scorecard error. In all other cases in which a player returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, the penalty will continue to be disqualification.
- Modification of Penalty for a Single Impermissible Use of Artificial Devices or Equipment – The penalty for a player’s first breach of Rule 14-3 (Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Abnormal Use of Equipment) during the round has been reduced from disqualification to loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play. The penalty for any subsequent breach of Rule 14-3 will continue to be disqualification.
In addition to these rules changes, the R&A and USGA also announced the latest revisions to the Rules of Amateur Status published within the 2016 edition of the rules. Among the most significant changes:
- Prize Money to Charity – New Rule 3-1b enables an amateur golfer to participate in an event where prize money or its equivalent is donated to a recognized charity, provided the approval of the governing body is first obtained in advance by the organizer.
- Golf-Related Expenses – New Rule 4-3 clarifies that an amateur golfer may receive reasonable expenses, not exceeding actual expenses incurred, for non-competition golf-related activities. Former Rule 4-3 becomes Rule 4-4.
- Reinstatement to Amateur Status – The recommended guidelines on periods awaiting reinstatement are amended to provide that a period in breach of the Rules of up to six years (previously up to five years) should result in a period awaiting reinstatement of one year.