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Coming Distractions

When word came down last week – not from Sergio Garcia or George O’Grady, who were busy saying things they shouldn’t have – from the USGA and R&A that the proposed ban on anchoring would become golf law in 2016, it was both emphatic and expected. If it could only be tidy going forward. Don’t count on it. The next step belongs to the PGA Tour, which has not said publicly whether it will incorporate the ban into its rules. The Tour, you may remember, spoke out against the proposed ban earlier this year during the designated comment period though it did so with less fiery rhetoric than the PGA of America chose. The Tour, as USGA executive director Mike Davis said in making the announcement last week, was asked to comment and it did. There was nothing binding in what Commissioner Tim Finchem said at Dove Mountain in late February. What the Tour decides will have a huge impact on how the game is administrated going forward. It can go along, as it historically has, with the USGA and R&A as the game’s arbiters of rules or it could choose to go its own way and set its own rules. The wise choice would be to accept the new rule and move forward. Is anchoring – used by a relatively small number of professionals and an even smaller number of amateurs – a reason to potentially reshape the game’s foundation? No.
That’s not to suggest golf and the PGA Tour couldn’t benefit from making significant changes at times (hint: distance control). The game and the sport, like anything else, need to continue to evolve but allowing anchoring isn’t necessarily a step forward. The ban will not kill participation either, so please stop suggesting it will open up tee times for the rest of us. The whole anchoring debate has been awkward. Davis and R&A boss Peter Dawson have acknowledged it should have been addressed years ago but it seemed like a nonissue until recently. It was seen as a crutch for the putting afflicted, a desperate stab at finding peace on the greens. Then it became a trend, not like soft spikes or rangefinders but noticeable, especially when Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson won major championships. Then the kids picked up on it and you know the rest. Now golf is changing the rules and the Tour’s position comes down to deciding whether it’s worth fighting for a method used by a relative handful of guys or acquiescing to what the game’s traditional rules makers have decided. Will the Tour protect some players now or will it protect the future? The game should have one set of rules.


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