FORT WORTH, TEXAS | Standing in the shadows of the 18th hole TV tower Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, a quiet and determined Tim Clark told Global Golf Post he is ready for the glare of a protracted fight with golf’s ruling bodies over their ban of anchored putting.
Clark said he wasn’t surprised by Tuesday’s announcement that the USGA and R&A will ban anchored putting by 2016, but is ready to take the next steps, legal or otherwise.
“It’s no secret that I’ve had (legal) counsel advising me since January and we are ready for what happens next,” he said. “Our focus now is what the PGA Tour’s decision will be on this.
“I’ve spoken to commissioner Finchem and I hope they come up with a decision soon. It’s a big decision for them and I know they need to have meetings and take their time.”
For Clark, 37, who suffers from a medical condition that does not allow him to rotate his forearms and has used the long or belly putter his entire career, no more time is needed.
“You see your whole career going away, my entire future in golf,” he said. “I’m not going to accept a ruling by some amateur body.”
He also has been in contact with PGA of America President Ted Bishop, who announced his organization’s opposition to the ban during the 90-day commentary period established by the USGA and R&A.
As Clark prepared to play at the 2013 Colonial, where he lost a large Sunday lead in 2009 and ultimately a playoff to Steve Stricker, he said working on his game while worrying about his future in professional golf hasn’t been easy.
“It’s been a tough five months preparing for this because this is the decision I expected from them,” Clark said. “It’s just an unfair ruling and some of their arguments don’t make any logical sense.”
In 11 official PGA Tour events this year, his best finish was solo second in the first tournament of the year in Hawaii, but since then he has seen only one other top 10.
Clark said seeing Ernie Els, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley – four of the past six major championship winners – using a long putter to claim victory hastened the ban. But he dismisses the idea that it gave them or any other golfer an advantage on the field.
“I’m sure it’s true they didn’t like people winning major championships with it, but it’s a more difficult stroke, a harder skill that we had to learn,” he said. “It’s something I’ve done my entire career.
“It would be like if they told golfers you couldn’t use the short putter any longer, you had to use the long one, that wouldn’t be right either. The biggest thing they have said is that the long putter challenges the integrity of the game. That’s completely false. I’ve had a long putter forever.”
Now he’s determined to fight. It’s earned him the label of “bulldog” from fellow South African Gary Player, who captained the International team for two of Clark’s three Presidents Cup appearances.
Clark said those who don’t agree or understand his impassioned arguments against the ban simply just don’t understand the whole situation.
“People just want to enjoy the game and be involved in a sport which attracts so many people,” he said. “Not one which causes them to quit or tells them they can’t earn a living on the Tour.”
Clark, who made an emotional plea at a PGA Tour players meeting earlier in the year, said he has received an overwhelming amount of support from his fellow players. He also said a weekly poll of his pro-am partners has also generated a lot of support for his cause, and concern for the game if the ban is enacted.
“I think you’ll just have more amateurs quit the game or just use it anyway,” Clark said. “There has just been no real reason given why they should take this away from us.”
With his pro-am tee time nearing, Clark finally moved into the bright Texas sunshine, past the putting green and toward the first tee. He’s ready to fight for his livelihood in the court of public opinion or the court of legal means, if necessary.