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Golf bodies propose ban on anchoring belly putters

Webb Simpson, who won the 2012 US Open, uses a long putter.

Chuck Burton/AP/File

Webb Simpson, who won the 2012 US Open, uses a long putter.

Golf’s worst-kept secret was revealed on Wednesday morning, with the sport’s two main ruling bodies – the United States Golf Association and the R&A – proposing a rule change that would ban the anchored stroke, which has become more popular and used by multiple players to win recent major championships.

Mike Davis, the executive director of the USGA, made clear the proposal is not an equipment ban. The long and belly putters that have soared in popularity in recent years can still be used, but the grip end of the putter – or any club – can’t be anchored to the body in any way.

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The proposal will be determined three months from now, giving both the USGA and the R&A time to consider the views and reactions of those throughout the golf world. Some, including 2011 PGA champion Keegan Bradley, have threatened legal action if the governing bodies took drastic action.

If passed, the proposal would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, giving those who have used the anchored putting stroke more than three years to find an alternate method. Bradley, Webb Simpson (2012 US Open), and Ernie Els (2012 British Open) have all won majors with long or belly putters in the bag.

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.
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