The PGA Tour has told golf’s rules-makers that it opposes the proposed ban on anchoring. Whether that opinion is enough to sway the USGA and the R&A remains to be seen.
Commissioner Tim Finchem explained the tour’s position Sunday after several weeks of deliberation and conference calls earlier in the week with the tour’s Player Advisory Council and the Tour Policy Board.
Finchem made a point – more than once – of saying the tour’s opposition to the proposed rule doesn’t mean the organization is in what he called “a donnybrook” with the USGA.
“I think there are a number of factors here, a number of details, a number of issues, but I think the essential thread that went through the thinking of the players and our board of directors and others that looked at this was that in the absence of data or any basis to conclude that there is a competitive advantage to be gained by using anchoring, and given the amount of time that anchoring has been in the game, that there was no overriding reason to go down that road,” Finchem said.
The discussion period on the proposed rule will close Thursday, and Finchem said he expects the USGA and R&A to reach a resolution in a month or two.
He pointed to previous decisions by the USGA to allow anchoring to support the tour’s position on the proposal.
“One thing we know for sure on the professional side is the professional game globally is stronger than it’s ever been today, and that on the heels of having anchoring as part of it for the past 30 or 40 years,” Finchem said. “It certainly hasn’t been a negative. You can’t point to one negative impact of anchoring.”
If the rule is adopted despite the tour’s opinion, Finchem said it is too early to determine how the PGA Tour would react.
“We have not even begun that discussion,” he said. “That’s a different question and it would be speculative for me to guess where that might come out.
“I think that the focus here ought to be, if possible, to go down the same road on anchoring and that’s where we are right now. We just hope they take our view on it. We’ll see.”
It’s possible the tour could adopt its own rule, allowing the use of anchoring if the USGA and R&A prohibited it.
“I can see the tour adopting the rule saying it’s OK for players to use a long putter,” Steve Stricker, a Policy Board member, said. “We probably have a couple other rules out here … that are different from USGA rules, too, and this wouldn’t be any different, I guess.”
A decision by the tour to enact its own rule allowing anchored putting would create a different set of rules in at least two major championships if the game’s ruling bodies adopt the ban.
In both the U.S. Open and the Open Championship, players would not be allowed to use anchored putting. It’s uncertain how The Masters and the PGA Championship would react, though PGA of America officials have been outspoken against the proposed ban.
“Pretty weird,” Stricker said of the idea of different rules in the majors.