• Alistair Tait

Where do stand on arm-lock putting?


Remember the furore Sam Torrance (above) created when he began using the long putter? Traditionalists were up in arms when the Scotsman anchored the putter to his chin and swung it back and forth like a pendulum. Soon others were following with long and belly putters to upset the traditionalists even more.


Seems we could be on the verge of another great debate on putting, or at least on the current method of arm-lock putting.


Billy Horschel spoke for many this week when he sounded off on the current fad for anchoring the putter to the lower half of the arm in making a stroke. He might have a few awkward moments next time he bumps into Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar or Will Zalatoris. All four lock the putter to their arms when they putt. Horschel wants to stop them from doing that.

“I don’t think this arm-lock putting is — should be allowed,” Horschel said during this week’s RBC Heritage.
“I think when you look at what guys are doing now with the arm-lock and moving the grips to the side where it’s parallel or matches the face and then when you do that up against your arm, I mean, it’s — you know, that face is dead square and that face doesn’t rotate at all,” Horschel said. “It’s just sort of locked in. Guys are doing it too good.”

As with Torrance, what DeChambeau and company are doing is perfectly legal under the rules of golf, which were changed a few years ago to ban anchoring. Former R&A chief executive Peter Dawson wasn’t a fan of the long putter. He was instrumental in changing the rules to ban anchoring, the use of a fixed point while putting.


Is the arm-lock method a form of anchoring? The putter may not be attached to a fixed point to allow it to swing like a pendulum, but Horschel feels it as close as. He said:

“You could say it’s anchored. I don’t know because I guess anchored is having one point against somewhere and a fixed point. I know that’s not fixed, but it’s something similar to an anchor style.”

Legends Tour player Gary Evans is another who feels the method should be banned. He tweeted:

Many agree with Evans, me included. However, (there’s always a however) if any recreational player wants to use the arm-lock method, or a long putter, to help them enjoy the game then that’s fine by me. I believe in bifurcation if it means recreational golfers are going to keep playing. The long putter was in play for over 20 years and for and against debates raged during the time it was allowed. I hope the institution of the anchoring rule didn’t drive out recreational players who had previously suffered from the yips.


In professional golf, however, overcoming nerves should be part and parcel of the game. Tour players should have to put two hands on the putter without clamping it to the side of the forearm, and have the bottle to draw it back and through to make a good stroke.


I’m with Horschel and Evans on this issue. The arm-lock method seems a form of anchoring to me and should be outlawed at the elite level. Where do you stand?


#JustSaying: “I once shot a wild, charging elephant in Africa and it kept coming at me until dropping to the ground at my feet. I wasn’t a bit scared. It takes a four-foot putt to scare me to death.” Sam Snead

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