As expected by most people in golf, especially after the earlier decision by the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club to make the ban on anchoring putting effective in 2016, the PGA Tour’s Policy Board voted to accept the ban and Rule 14-1b for its competition.
However, the Tour joined the PGA of America in making a recommendation for the rules makers to extend the time period in which amateurs would be permitted to continue to use the stroke.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem noted in making the decision that while there were still varying opinions among his members that the board ultimately concluded that the ban would not affect a strong presentation by its competitors.
“The board also was of the opinion that having a single set of rules on acceptable strokes applicable to all professional competitions worldwide was desirable and would avoid confusion,” Finchem added.
PGA President Ted Bishop noted the association’s board had a spirited debate, but in the end went along out of respect for the USGA to make the rules. “We continue to feel that the amateur player needs a longer period of adjustment to this rule,” he added.
In its earlier announcement, the USGA indicated it concluded that Rule 14-1b was necessary to protect the essential nature of the traditional method of stroke and eliminate potential advantages that anchoring the club provides.
Here is a portion of a letter I received as an associate member of the USGA:
“Throughout the game’s 600-year history, the essence of the traditional method of golf stroke has involved swinging the club with both the club and gripping hands held away from the body, requiring the player to direct and control the movement of the entire club. Anchoring one end of the club against the body, and creating a point of physical attachment around which the club is swung, is a substantial departure from the traditional swing. Our judgment, based on tradition, observation and experience, is that anchoring creates an unacceptable risk of changing and reducing the challenge of making a golf stroke.
“The new Rule does not alter current equipment standards and allows for the use of all conforming golf clubs, including mid-length and long putters, provided such clubs are used in a non-anchored manner. The Rule narrowly targets only a few types of strokes in which the club is anchored, while preserving a golfer’s ability to play with a variety of permissible gripping styles, putter types and swing methods.
“The effective date of January 1, 2016, at the start of the next four-year cycle for revisions to the Rules of Golf, provides an extended period in which golfers currently using an anchored stroke may adapt their method of stroke, if necessary, to conform to the requirements of the new Rule.
“We know that not everyone will agree with our final decision. However, we hope the new Rule will bring to a close the longstanding, controversial debate about anchored putting and its place in the game. Of equal importance, we hope that those who have expressed concerns know that they have been heard; can understand our reasons for concluding that Rule 14-1b is in the best interests of the game; and will now join with us in assisting any golfers who need help moving to a non-anchored stroke.”
Not all of the touring professionals are happy with the Tour’s decision to adopt the ban and some have even hinted at some kind of possible legal action.
Tim Clark, speaking for players who use the anchoring strokes, said earlier: “We’re not going to roll over and just accept this.
Now we are going to have to explore our options. We have been put in a position where we have to fight for our livelihoods. We will do what we need to do to get a fair result.I planned to play until I physically no longer could play. Now I’ve been told I’m going to have to change the way I putt in a few years. Now my future is uncertain.”
Carl Pettersson, who has used an anchored stroke for 16 years, added that he felt the ban was “grossy unfair” but “sometimes life’s not fair.”