Weeks: PGA Tour opposing proposed ban on anchored putting

Bob Weeks
2/24/2013 9:26:06 PM
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It wasn't hard to see it coming, really. In fact, you knew that this was likely. Still, the revelation is jarring.

Tim Finchem announced during Sunday's broadcast of the WGC-Accenture Match Play that the PGA Tour is opposing the proposed ban on anchoring putters.

The move comes after the PGA Tour's players-only meeting at Torrey Pines and the 16-person player advisory council both reportedly came out against the ban.

If true, the heat will be turned up considerably on the game's two ruling bodies, the USGA and the R&A, which proposed the ban. The PGA of America and the National Golf Club Owners in the United States are also against the anchoring ban, while in Canada the PGA asked the ruling bodies to “seriously consider the impact this proposed ban may have on people's enjoyment of the game and the overall growth of the game.”But the Tour's stand carries with it a ton of weight, a suffocating pressure that will challenge this proposal.

As the situation stands now, it's hard to imagine the USGA and R&A pressing on with the ban. If they do, it could lead to a complicated set of circumstances with different sets of rules. Imagine if the PGA Tour players had one set of rules for regular tour events and another for the U.S. and British Opens.

Of course that wouldn't be unique in sports. International hockey has different rules than the NHL. College baseball in the United States allows aluminum bats, while the majors do not. There are differences between the basketball played in the Olympics and the NBA.

And there are already differences in various golf jurisdictions and between professional and amateur rules, although most of those are minor.

Adopting the anchoring ban would also give the perception that the R&A and USGA aren't listening to the other stakeholders in the game or, it seems, the public. While I've seen unofficial polls showing support for the ban, I've yet to see any proper research that indicates any kind of momentum for outlawing the long wands from everyday golfers. At best, the feeling of the public is split or, perhaps more appropriately, indifferent. 

That could be an even bigger worry for rules makers. If they start adopting rules that no one follows or even cares about (above and beyond those that are already routinely ignored), it paves the road for irrelevancy.

There are certainly other issues that seem more important to the game right now, ones that would connect better with the average golfer – slow play, high prices, access to the tee and junior development.

To be sure, the USGA and R&A are in a difficult position. Their next move will be interesting and when the comment period comes to an end next Thursday, I suspect the proposal to ban anchoring may just disappear.

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