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USGA rule change: Is this the end for belly putters in golf?

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the U.S. Golf Association said the proposed rule would make it illegal for pro golfers to "anchor" the club to their bodies while making a stroke. The new rule would not take effect until 2016.

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Adam Scott from Australia hits the ball with his long putter anchored to his chest during the HSBC Champions golf tournament in Dongguan,China earlier this month. If the new golf rule is adopted, Scott will have to adjust his stroke or change his putter.

(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

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Golf's governing bodies, worried that players will turn to long putters as an advantage instead of a last resort, proposed a new rule banning the putting stroke used by three of the last five major champions.

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the U.S. Golf Association said on Wednesday the rule would not outlaw belly putter or broom-handle putters, only the way they are currently used. The proposed rule would make it illegal for golfers to anchor the club while making a stroke and not take effect until 2016.

"More players are using it, and instructors are saying this is a more efficient way to putt because you don't have to control the whole stroke," USGA executive director Mike Davis said. "The game has been around for 600 years. Fundamentally, we don't think this is the right way to go."

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Orville Moody won the 1989 U.S. Senior Open using a long putter that he held against his chest, allowing for a pendulum motion. Paul Azinger won the 2000 Sony Open with a putter that he pressed into his belly. Long putters began receiving serious attention last year when Keegan Bradley became the first player to win a major with a belly putter at the U.S. PGA Championship. This year, Webb Simpson won the U.S. Open and Ernie Els the British Open using belly putters.

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