PGA Tour stands against ban on anchored putters

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THE PGA Tour has come out against the proposed ban of anchored putters from 2016 – but is not saying yet what it will do if the ban comes into force.

The rule-making Royal and Ancient Club and United States Golf Association are in a period of consultation at the moment, but the US tour’s announcement will give them cause for thought, especially as the PGA of America are also against the move.

Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said yesterday: “Our player advisory council looked at it twice. We had the USGA come in and make a presentation to a player meeting in San Diego and the USGA made a presentation to our board. We researched and looked at it and articulated our position at the end of last week to the USGA and shared that thinking also with the R&A.

“Essentially where the PGA Tour came down was that they did not think that banning anchoring was in the best interest of golf or the PGA Tour.”

Finchem also stated that 13 of the 15 players on their advisory council were against the ban.

“I would note that the PGA of America came to the same conclusion after consultation with their membership. The Golf Course Owners Association came to the same conclusion as well,” Finchem said.

“I think the essential thread that went through the thinking of the players and our board of directors and others 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 over-riding reason to go down that road.

“An awful lot of amateurs today use anchoring and a number of players on the PGA Tour who have grown up with a focus on perfecting the anchoring method, if you will, did so after the USGA on multiple occasions approved the method years ago.

“For us to join in supporting a ban we think as a direction is unfair to both groups of individuals. We have worked with the USGA over the last 20 years on a wide range of rules issues. I continue to hope that regardless of where this matter ends up that it gets there after a process that is good-natured, open and not contrary or divisive.”

Asked what happens if the ban goes ahead, Finchem added: “I don’t know because we have, I think carefully and intentionally, avoided at this point getting into a discussion about that issue. The PGA of America has concluded that it will hurt the game with certain numbers of amateurs. We agree with that. The pro game globally is stronger than it’s ever been today and that’s on the heels of having anchoring as part of it for the last 30 or 40 years.”

The USGA said in a statement: “The 90-day comment period remains a very good process. We continue to listen to varying points of view and have had many productive conversations across the golf community, which is a reminder of just how much people care about the game regardless of their position on this issue. It is our plan to take final action on the proposed rule in the spring.”

An R&A spokesman said they would not be commenting until the “comment period” was over.

The PGA Tour also said it would announce a decision “relatively” soon following former world No 1 Vijay Singh’s admission that he had used deer antler spray, which contains a banned substance.