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Proposal would make belly putters go belly-up

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This june 12, 2012, file photo shows Webb Simpson reacting on the 18th hole during the fourth round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Golf's governing bodies, worried that players will turn to long putters as an advantage instead of a last resort, proposed a new rule Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, that would ban the putting stroke used by three of the last five major champions. This year, Simpson won the U.S. Open and Ernie Els won the British Open using belly putters. AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File
By The Associated Press
Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 7:16 p.m.

Brace yourself — just not your putter.

In a proposal that would affect golfers from major champs to amateurs, the guardians of the 600-year-old sport want to write a new rule that would outlaw a putting stroke they fear is taking too much skill out of the game.

The U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club said Wednesday they are not banning the belly putter or the longer “broom-handle” putters — only the way they are used. The proposed rule would prohibit golfers at all levels from anchoring a club against their bodies while making a stroke. The rule would not take effect until 2016.

“We believe a player should hold the club away from his body and swing it freely,” USGA executive director Mike Davis said.

Three of the last five major champions used a belly putter.

What concerned the governing bodies, however, was an increasing number of players who were turning to the long putters because they saw it as an advantage.

“Anchored strokes have very rapidly become the preferred option for a growing number of players, and this has caused us to review these strokes and their impact on the game,” R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said. “Our conclusion is that anchored strokes threaten to supplant traditional strokes, which with all their frailties are integral to the longstanding character of our sport.”

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