Doug Ferguson's AP story says Commissioner Tim "Finchem threw a big wrinkle into the plan to outlaw the anchored putting stroke."
Bob Harig called the tour's opposition to the anchoring ban "stunning, really" and wonders how the minority is getting their way over the majority.
Forget the arguments being made that anchored putters are not a cure for putting ills, or that they've been allowed for 40 years and it's too late to change, or that putting-challenged amateurs don't need another reason to quit the game.
And don't go down the road that the game has bigger problems than how players putt.
The rules makers had a simple reason for proposing the change.
"Throughout the 600-year history of golf, the essence of playing the game has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball," said Mike Davis, the executive director of the United States Golf Association, when the proposed change was announced.
"The player's challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge. Our conclusion is that the Rules of Golf should be amended to preserve the traditional character of the golf swing by eliminating the growing practice of anchoring the club."
And, because the rule would not go into effect until the next rules cycle takes place in 2016, players who anchor would have three years to get used to the new rule.
Randall Mell says the tour's move has put the game into "showdown mode" and says we should not be mistaken by the high profile way Finchem went about the announcement.
For those of you who think the PGA Tour’s posturing, maybe so, but Finchem went out of his way to make the PGA Tour’s opposition about as public as you could make it. He revealed the Tour’s opinion Sunday in a news conference during the finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. And then he went on the NBC telecast and explained the Tour’s position.
Would Finchem go that far in stating the Tour’s opposition if it intends to acquiesce? Why make such a strong public stance then?
Charles Happell recalls his "uneasy feeling" about Tim Finchem dating to the 1998 Presidents Cup and felt today was inevitable given the Commissioner's thirst for power.
All in all, a very disappointing day for golf and one in which Tim Finchem revealed his true colours: a politician at heart who was happy to make a decision that had nothing to do with the health of the game and everything to do with expedience.
The Golf Channel/NBC gang's views, as selected by their PR department:
On PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem’s Announcement on the PGA TOUR’s Opposition on the Proposed Anchored Putter Ban
Brandel Chamblee: “I think this was a message from the PGA TOUR to the USGA to go find out and give them some definitive data that this is in fact, an aid. To the USGA’s response today, I would say that 14-1B, where was that two or three decades ago? If that always has been their position to define the stroke, they have had opportunity to talk and pass judgment on the anchored stroke. In the PGA TOUR’s eyes, they have missed the window. So, they need to do their homework.”
Frank Nobilo: “This isn’t just the USGA and the PGA TOUR. We might want to think that it is, but it also involves the R&A. Already the British PGA has decided to agree with the R&A and support that decision. If the European Tour follows suit, you would have the Open Championship which would have non-anchoring. If the Masters agrees with that, then you would have non-anchoring at the Masters and you would have non-anchoring if the USGA goes ahead with it at the U.S. Open. We are playing Russian Roulette with the game.”
Mark Rolfing: “I’m not in favor of the anchored stroke but I understand the PGA TOUR’s position. I hope we get this over with quickly. The more we talk about it, the more divided we might get and that is not good for the game.”
Peter Jacobsen: “I agree 100 percent with Tim. I am against the proposed anchoring ban. I don’t use the long putter, I never have and I probably never will. I putt better with the short putter. However, I was very happy to hear the TOUR’s position.”
Gary Koch: “This is not a surprise from what we were hearing from the players. That seemed to be their sentiment the TOUR was going to present to the USGA.”
Roger Maltbie: “I understand the TOUR’s frustration regarding the length of time the USGA has taken to introduce this proposed ruling. It is in the interest of the PGA TOUR and the PGA of America that more people enjoy golf and grow the game of golf. It is this time factor that has led to the frustration by many.”
**Mike Stachura noted in GolfDigestix that GolfDatatech's survey found 5% of golfers were anchorers. For what it's worth, the Datatech survey was the most scientific one conducted and made public.
From golf.com's PGA Tour Confidential...
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: The anchored putter debate has turned into a power struggle over who controls the game. The USGA and R&A should call the PGA Tour's bluff: some players might complain, but the Tour will abide by the ban. Tim Finchem will never allow a situation where his players could be called cheats. Incidentally, this whole situation is not helping golf dispel its image as a game for doddering twits.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: It's a sad day. The blue coats have made mistakes but their motivation has always been to protect the game. All Finchem cares about is protecting the Porsche money of a couple dozen yippy journeymen. This is a troubling precedent and, much like the Citizens United court decision, its ugly impact will only become more obvious over time.
At the end of the day, you do what’s best for you. The Tour is opposed to bifurcation but doesn’t support the anchoring ban. Translation: It just tossed the matter back to the USGA/R&A in the form of a grenade.
Now what? If you’re the USGA, you have to think long and hard about imposing the ban at the recreational level only, which couldn’t have been what was intended. That would suffice as an admission that the USGA doesn’t hold any official jurisdiction over pro golf and compromise the original ideal, but it could also force Finchem into the rule-making business he doesn’t want to enter.
My Golf World Monday item on Tim Finchem's press appearances Sunday.