Since the USGA eliminated the use of anchoring putters in 2016, many golfers have found an alternative way around the ban with an arm lock putter. Golfers have adopted a new putting grip that keeps the hands and arms quiet.
Although proven to be a successful method to consistently keep the hands ahead of the ball through impact, the use of an arm lock putting style is still far and few in between. Even with the Major wins of notable pros like Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley, Bryson DeChambeau and Webb Simpson, who most recently won the 2018 Players Championships using an arm lock putter, hasn’t seemed to boost its popularity. It’s hard to deny the success of an arm lock putter when you look at some of the numbers. Still, the idea of “change” to a golfer is a forbidden territory. Golfers are people of tradition, repetition and routine. To change a putting style that you have been accustomed to since you took up the game would be unheard of for many golfers. And let’s admit – it may just look strange too.
THE ANCHORING BAN IN GOLF
In May 2013, golf’s two governing bodies – The United States Golf Association (USGA) and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) – announced their intent to ban the use of any and all anchored strokes – including putting – for all golfers.
Rule 14-1b prohibits anchoring a club when making a stroke and took effect on January 1, 2016 as part of the 2016 edition of the Rules of Golf. The rule states that while making a stroke, a player may not anchor the club (i) “directly” or (ii) indirectly through use of an “anchor point.”
While the majority of golfers were not affected by the new ruling since they did not use an anchored putting stroke, there was a large portion of golfers who were. Still, even the golfers who didn’t use arm lock putters were a bit critical of the ban.
Yes, there was the growing popularity of belly and long putters on all professional golf circuits, but was it really that much of a game-changer? Many critics of the ban suggested that belly and long putters didn’t provide enough of an advantage to alter the rules of the game.
The anchored style of putting may not be the most popular, but it is effective. However, all golfers have the same opportunity to learn and implement this style, so it’s a player’s level of skill and ability that would affect the success of the putting style, no other unfair advantage.
Therefore, when the ban took effect in 2016, many long putter and belly putter golfers transitioned into an arm lock putting style. The arm lock grip is a superb alternative for golfers who were comfortable with a long putter or belly putter.
WHY USE AN ARM LOCK PUTTER?
The arm lock putting style is pretty much self-explanatory. The putter remains “locked” to the golfer’s lead forearm through the entire putting stroke. The anchoring rule states that while making a stroke, a player may not anchor the club (i) “directly” or (ii) indirectly through use of an “anchor point.” Therefore, since nothing is anchored to the butt of the putter grip, the arm lock putting style is completely legal and conforms to the Rules of Golf.
While it may look odd to some, using an arm lock putter can be extremely effective. Players who are ‘handsy’ and tend to get the ‘yips’ on the putting green have much improvement with an arm lock putter because it minimizes your ability to move your hands during the putting stroke. With the putter against the lead forearm, it creates a bracing effect that keeps the putter head from rotating too much during impact and through the stroke.
One of the key factors to the technique of using an arm lock putter is the pressure on the grip. Using your back hand to apply pressure forces the butt-end of the grip to maintain contact with your lead forearm. The putting stroke is controlled through the shoulders while keeping your head still.
When your arm lock putter is secured against your forearm, the proper loft and alignment are achieved. With the appropriate forward press, the player is able to keep their hands ahead of the putter head through the stroke. This perfect combination allows the ball to roll smoothly off the club face with better topspin and consistency.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT ARM LOCK PUTTER
It is important to note that Rule 14-1b focuses only on the method of stroke and does not limit the conforming equipment that may be used. Almost every major putter manufacturer has an arm lock putter in their collections. ARGOLF has quite a few.
However, being the most important club in your bag, your putter should not be bought from a stock selection. It is extremely important for you to have a custom fitting session for your putter. Especially with arm lock putters, your unique putting stroke and address position will alter the length and loft you need to achieve the best performance on the greens.
It can be quite simple to fit the length of a putter when you know what you’re doing. If you’re reading a blog and taking a guess from a YouTube video, we suggest you check out our custom fitting partners. The putter is the one club in your bag that you want to be the best fit to your own individual putting style.
Typically to measure the fitted length for arm lock putters, a professional will measure the distance from the butt end of your current traditional length putter up to your elbow. Depending on your putting stroke, the professional will adjust the club to just the right length for you.
A traditional putter has a loft around 3.5 degrees. However, with an arm lock putter, the loft must be increased due to the forward lean of the putter, sometimes as much as 12 degrees. But again, this will be determined on your putting stroke. A custom fitting professional can determine the appropriate loft for your putting style with a traditional putter and adjust it accordingly for the arm lock putter. Book your fitting today with ARGOLF!
The weight of the putter head is generally heavier than a traditional putter. Due to the increased distance between the club’s head and your hands, the increased weight provides for a more fluid and consistent stroke. The swing weight will not be a major determinant in the success of your putting so long as the feel is right for the golfer.