Monday, February 25

VIDEO: Geoff Shackelford on PGA Tour Opposition to Anchoring Ban



Worth watching: The Morning Drive segment with Geoff Shackelford covers the PGA Tour's opposition to anchoring ban and related issues.

IF YOU SAW FINAL-ROUND COVERAGE of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship (won by Matt Kuchar), then you may have also seen PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem announce the tour's position on the proposed anchoring ban by the USGA and The R&A. Finchem, sitting in the NBC tower with Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller, explained why the tour opposes the ban, a stance that has been forwarded to the USGA within the organization's 90-day comment period.
TIM FINCHEM: ... We did give the USGA our position last week and our Board and our Player Advisory Council concluded that we should be opposed to it, which we articulated. But also I've read some things that would indicate that we're kind of at war with the USGA over this thing, and I just wanted to clarify that we're very supportive of the USGA. We hold them in high regard. We were asked for our opinion, and we feel strongly that going down that road would be a mistake. 
You know, this is a very subjective thing. Twenty-five to thirty years ago you look at anchoring, long putters, everybody has an opinion, the USGA approved it twice. Our view isI think if there's one thing that would prevail across a lot of players and a lot of board members is that it's been around for a generation, and the game of golf has done quite well. So unless you have a compelling reason to change it, you shouldn't, and the USGA has indicated there is no performance advantage to using anchoring. 
So on that basis, and given the fallout that occurs with amateurs and the fallout that occurs with players like Webb and Keegan and others who have grown up with the process, there are negatives. 
Our players from day one have sort of saidand we have players that want to see the ban, too, but again, it's a subjective decision. But most players are saying, listen, without a significant upside and no competitive advantage, let's don't do it.
I've noticed there's a fair amount of surprise about the PGA Tour's position. Being the dignified game that golf is, the governing bodies usually play nice and get along.

But perhaps the PGA Tour's stance is not that surprising. The tour is trying to protect its own commercial interests, which include the rising star players who have grown up using an anchored stroke. Yet, as pointed out on Morning Drive (above), those tour players are still a fairly small minority. (Only about 15 percent of tour players use an anchored stroke.)

From a philosophical standpoint, I'm against anchoring. But the USGA and The R&A waited a quarter century too long to address this situation. They now have a 90-day comment period on a proposed ban. What about the nearly three decades they allowed the long putter and anchored stroke?

Push back should be expected. I wonder what will happen now.

3 comments :

Brian Kuehn said...

Let's say the USGA/R&A decide to move forward with the ban while the PGA Tour says "no". Nothing will happen for a couple years. Then the PGA Tour will follow the Rules save for one. The US Open, The Open and possibly the Masters will ban the anchored stroke. That will be no problem for the "no anchor" players. For players that anchor the putter, they may find themselves not invited as their qualifications were earned while using a stroke not allowed by the Rules.

Meanwhile, what about us amateurs? The USGA and/or state affiliates run most amateur events so the ban will be pretty complete. In day to day play some will use the anchor method but most won't based on how we currently treat non-conforming clubs and balls. Very few of us use those overly "hot" balls and Callaway's effort in non-comforming drivers fell flat.

As I see it, the USGA/R&A hold all the cards. The Tour can bluster and may even try to make an exception. Ultimately, however, the sheer weight of the ruling bodies will force everyone into line.

The Armchair Golfer said...

The USGA/R&A definitely hold cards, but maybe not all of them. The fact that they control two of the four majors that pros covet certainly helps.

Brian Kuehn said...

My guess is that the members of Augusta National will side with the USGA/R&A so I think 3 majors will be subject to the ban. With only 1 of the World's top 10 male professionals using a long/belly putter, the issue may ultimately revolve around self interest. Any pro likely to sit out a major in solidarity with the broom brushers and belly guys?

The USGA/R&A waited too long to act on long and belly putters. They still, however, have the numbers on their side. For 80 to 85 percent of golfers the ban is merely a talking point and ultimately has no affect on their lives. Sort of like a debate on the tax rate for the 2nd million of annual income. It generates a lot of discussion but in the end few are prepared to go to war over the issue.