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Harrington backs putter ban

GOLF: Dubliner Padraig Harrington has backed the proposed rule change to ban anchored putters from 2016 but dissenting voices have begun to emerge.

Golf's ruling bodies, the United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Club, will make a final decision in spring next year on a new Rule 14-1b, which "would prohibit strokes made with the club or a hand gripping the club held directly against the player's body, or with a forearm held against the body".


Harrington, who won the Open in 2007 and 2008 as well as the 2008 US PGA Championship, said: "If belly putters were invented today, they'd definitely be banned, I think everyone agrees on that.

"The question is should they be banned now after 15, 20 years of people using them?

"Twenty years ago you'd hear people like Tom Watson saying 'No, it shouldn't be used', but the biggest issue was whether a guy was going to use it to measure two club lengths out of a water hazard, take a free drop using it.

"Nowadays, it's become a lot more commonplace and you don't hear that issue whatsoever.

"But the rules of golf have always been that you can't anchor a club to your body, and clearly this is anchoring.

"There are less variables so it certainly seems to help guys under pressure and it goes against what is seen to be the normal way of playing golf.

"The R&A and USGA have come to the conclusion that if they don't move now, it's becoming so commonplace in the junior game that people are going to think it's normal."


American Keegan Bradley, the first player to win a major using the anchoring technique when he triumphed at the 2011 PGA Championship, said: "In the next couple of years, I'm really going to have to figure out a way that's best for me to putt," he said.

"I'm obviously not happy with the ruling, but I respect the USGA."

Former world number one Fred Couples said: "I do use a belly putter and when I started I used it for my back.

"Now will it (the putter) touch my belly once in a while? Yeah, but it's not really anchored so I don't really know if that is affected by the rule.

"So far they (the rule-makers) haven't screwed up the game of golf, and I don't think this will screw it up. But I feel bad for a lot of the younger players who have never done it (putt) any other way."