Belly putters, like this one used by Keegan Bradley, could be banned soon. (Dave Martin / Associated…)
Golf's rules-making boards, siding with Tiger Woods and others, on Wednesday proposed a change banning the growing use of "belly putting" in the game.
Belly putting, also called "anchoring," is a method in which golfers use a long putter whose grip rests against the stomach or some other part of the body, giving them added stability as they putt.
The U.S. Golf Assn. and its European counterpart, the Royal & Ancient, said the proposed rule would "prohibit strokes made with the club or a hand gripping the club held directly against the player's body."
The rule, if finalized, would take effect in 2016 so that golfers using the belly-putting method would have time to adapt to conventional shorter putters.
"Throughout the 600-year history of golf the essence of playing the game has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball," USGA Executive Director Mike Davis said in a statement.
"The player's challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge," he said.
The rule would not affect currently acceptable equipment; belly putters and other long putters would still be allowed as long as they're not anchored against the body.
Controversy over belly putters grew in the last year because three of golf's last five major tournaments were won by players using belly putters: Keegan Bradley at the 2011 PGA Championship, Webb Simpson at the 2012 U.S. Open and Ernie Els at this year's British Open.
But Woods, who has won 14 major championships, objected.
On Tuesday, he again said the anchoring method went against the traditions of golf and that the situation was being exacerbated because a growing number of young golfers were copying PGA Tour pros and using belly putters as well.
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