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« Monty To The Rescue: "The R&A and USGA have served the game of golf for a long, long time and long may that continue." | Main | Els 1-Year Flashback: Ban It »
Sunday
Feb242013

First Reactions To PGA Tour's Anchoring Opposition

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.”

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Reader Comments (75)

The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many ---good on you Finchem

Finchem says 1/5 golfers anchor, strange---not in north Texas, not even close

ugly ugly hubris Finchem
The trump card the USGA and R&A have is the majors - all of which are governed by the rules of the USGA/R&A, not that of the PGA Tour. If the Masters, US Open, Open Championship, and PGA all stick to the USGA rule of no anchoring, it's checkmate on the PGA Tour. Guys are not going to anchor all but 4 weeks a year and hope to switch to a non-anchored putter for the majors - if they want to win majors, they will have to switch.
Perry, in case you missed it the PGA of America is also against the ban....uhh, they run the PGA Championship.

Is Finchem on the record anywhere about his personal opinion on anchoring?
02.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
The PGA Tour, these guys are cheaters!
02.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterUSA TODAY
Got to hand it to Charles Happell, he has captured the Finchem persona brilliantly. When Ernie Els publicly states the belly putter as cheating how can Finchem say there's no evidence that these putters are providing an advantage? Dude, one of the worlds top ranked players makes a switch and over night, presto, all my problems are solved. LMAO! They should have hired Finchem to run GM, best used car salesman in the world.
02.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve M.
Poor Kuchar. Finally wins a big one and nobody cares.
02.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGhillie
My take is that Finchem realizes that he in Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley has two clean-cut twenty-something stars that fit the desired PGA Tour demographic, and that their status as long-term American stars is in jeopardy if they are forced to use a standard-length putter. The Tour's marketability would suffer as a result, and I think that's what swayed Finchem as much as anything.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Stand firm, USGA and R & A! If something that was wrong 30-years ago and was (due to incompetence) not legislated against, it doesn't make it right today. If professional golfers no longer play the game as it was intended, it will cost them respect. If you lose respect, ultimately you lose everything. It is the beginning of the end.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
Ivan ... all they've done is announce their objection to the ban. Following through with their opposition to the ban is quite another matter!
Strictly speaking you are right, C & C. I may be slightly premature to have written 'It's the beginning of the end.' HOwever, if the pros do not agree to play by the rules of the game, will they be playing golf?
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
@Hawkeye

Keegan... maybe, but how does Webb appeal to the desired demographic? He's a mellow guy that not many people know about. Even after winning a major he doesn't have much of a following. I would say Adam Scott, who also uses a long putter, is far more marketable than Webb.

Most of the PGA Tour stars do not use a long putter -- Tiger, Phil, Rory, Bubba, Fowler, Sergio, Dustin, etc. Keegan and Scott are the only really famous ones who use one.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMe
@Me: Webb Simpson is the archetypal republican Bible-thumper, the kind of guy many middle-class, middle-aged white Americans would like their daughters to marry. Plus, he shanks an iron shot every once in a while, which makes him easier for that demographic to relate to. ;)
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
I had to laugh at the Haspell quote (story subsequently read). It comes off as a guy, dissed by an authority figure, finally getting his chance for revenge . . . 15 years later!
High school classmates of Haspell should beware at reunions. Charles doesn't forget a slight.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered Commentergov. lepetomane
Ivan ... never say never of course but if the pga tour doesn't ban it then they will "not be playing a game with which I'm familiar" for it surely will not stop at anchoring.

Seems to me that by coming out against the governing bodies Finchem is trying to create such a stushie between now and 2016 that the governing bodies will be forced to back down. Personally, I regard it as a massive own goal and wouldn't be at all surprised if his precious marquee players were subjected to a bit of heckling from the fans between now and then.
I had never heard of Haspell before. Now I know why.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoe
I was disappointed that Johnny Miller more or less backed down in the presence of Finchem. I'm sure he'd be just as agreeable if USGAs Davis came on the set afterwards.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn C
Interesting issue is how to determine if anchoring makes a difference in performance. I'd like to see the before and after putting statistics for Scott, Els, etc. both year-to-year at the same course, and across all courses. And to have dueling statisticians make their cases as to the significance of these numbers.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessie
Whether you agree with the ban / new rule or not, the fundamental point here is that it is the USGA and R&A who govern the rules of golf. As golfers, we are duty bound to follow those rules, and that tenet holds true whether we be pro or amateur. If pro golf bodies start to to infulence / be selective about rules, the game is finished.

As stated above, the governing bodies must hold firm on this as a point of principle.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlan McD
If there's no advantage then why do they insist on using them.

Anchoring is ugly too.

I hope that R&A and USGA have the gonads to stand strong.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
Go Tim Go! If you don't like it, don't use it.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJ. Fred Muggs
I don't think you can have it both ways. The tour players against the ban (and the announcers who make their livelihood off the tour) continue to put forth this notion that anchoring doesn't really help (they need proof) and at the same time point out that thousands of amateurs will quit the game if they can't anchor because they won't be able to get the ball in the hole. I think the evidence that anchoring helps the putting stroke is confirmed by all these amateurs who have the yips and can only play the game with an anchored stroke.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill Seeberg
It bothered me that Finchem argued it doesn't give advantage because nobody in the top putting stats anchored, and that taking 30 years to get the rule right was too long, and therefore ought not be adopted. It would have been more honest to say 'Ben Hogan was right, putting is stupid, let's just have closest to the pin contests -- that will be won by those who can hit the longest, highest shots.' The one-dimensional nature of the pro game will only become worse when 90% of the field anchors. I don't feel bad for the guys who will have issues if anchoring is banned. They will either adapt or be replaced by those who can putt, just as those who could shape shots and play strategically have been replaced by those who can bomb and gouge.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterF. X. Flinn
It's gull darn all Bass Aackwards!!!

The less skilled (eg: the NON-pay for play crowd only)have no reason to feel shame using an aid on the course, so anchoring should be allowed (or tolerated) for 99.9% of golfers.

The best and the...err, not brightest since we're talking about golfers here...but rather the most talented (eg: the pay-for-play types) should be expected to be able to control BOTH ends of the stick vs only the one end/part. Crutches are suitable for rehabbing injuries and perhaps Charlie Owens but that's about it folks. As a compromise, broomsticks may be used, but they have to be at least as long as an average floor mop from the local Wal-Mart and must be anchored on the forehead...Indian poker style.

Seriously speaking...was there a vote among PGAT members concerning "yea" or "nea" with siding with the USGA? That might've been the easiest way to settle the issue...a closed/annonymous ballot with only the results being released. After all, Tim speaks for the players doesn't he? So let them speak wolle!!!
02.25.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Banning them is long overdue. Years ago they stopped Sam Snead from putting croquet style, this looks far more against the rules, or the intent of the rules, than that was.
If there is no advantage then why would anyone use such an unorthodox putter? I will never be a fan of anyone using the anchored putter.
Finchem says for the good of amateurs? Really? My wife and I have a four course membership and play a lot of other courses and have never seen one in use on any of the courses. Seems with age that a normal putter would become the only club I would eventually be able to physically use.
If putting is a players weakness, sorry about that. It is part of the game. What about guys like Corey Pavin who never could drive 300yds. Give him some advantage for that? An illegal driver or ball? What about someone who just can't drive straight? Allow them to use Vaseline on the clubface?
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGolfnutt47
My guess is that if the USGA holds firm, there will need to be an official vote to determine if they will essentially ignore it. Part of the problem that the TOUR has is that even if they vote to ignore the ban, there is still only a small minority of players that anchor. So those individuals will still be singled out, along with the major championship issues everyone has described. The idea that weekly PGA Tour events are the only official golf tourneys in the world that anchoring is allowed has to be an alarming idea for them. Solution needs to be a grandfather system, along with exceptions for older players, and to have those exceptions included in the USGA Rule.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
PGA Tour has no interest in speeding up play and every interest in making golf as fair as possible.

Anchored players play slower to a man, reason enough to ban anchoring.

Nice visit to Golf Central today Geoff, very tempered.

BTW, statistically there is no way to "prove a benefit to anchoring as one cannot re-create play conditins to satisfy scientific method.

Only problem is that the RandA and USGA bodies waited so long. Just DO it already. I'd like to see the Masters announce that anchoring is banned immediately. That would get the job done.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGolfFan
outlaw long putters that have been used for 50 years? why not outlaw superballs. huge drivers, cavity back irons, titanium. etc etc

SAME THING!
02.25.2013 | Unregistered Commentermorphy699
i am now rooting for any major to be won by someone who anchors so we can shut up the people clamoring that anchoring isnt an advantage. it obviously is to those that stink at making 5 footers.

PGA players have their golf game in mind instead of the game of golf. Els was against the ban until he found out how much better he was with an anchor.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterConnor
Kuchar wins Match Play!

1. Matt Kuchar, $1.5 million

2. Hunter Mahan, $875,000

3. Jason Day, $615,000

4. Ian Poulter, $500,000

5-8. Steve Stricker, Webb Simpson, Robert Garrigus, Graeme McDowell, $275,000

9-16. Shane Lowry, Bubba Watson, Fredrik Jacobsen, Nicolas Colsaerts, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Martin Kaymer, Scott Piercy, Tim Clark, $144,000

17-32. Second round losers, $96,000

33-64. First round losers, $46,000

That's a total of $8,750,000 in prize money for 64 players...just in case anybody cares.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
johnny, the PAC board did in fact survey the players and a large majority were in favor of opposing the ban -- so yes, in fact, Finchem is speaking for the players.

Deep down I wonder what Finchem's personal opinion really is.

johnny, what do think of Jimmy Ballard's teaching ideas?
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
The governing bodies will hold firm and the tour will accept it.

No grandfathering of current players. (that would be a complete joke)

Can't see any other outcome.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered Commenterfyg
If the USGA had never broached anchoring how would *the game* have been harmed? Conversely, how is *the game* being helped if the ban is enacted?
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
I have never seen a major sport implement a rule or have a separate rule from lower levels of play that give the impression of making the game easier for the best players.

whether its wooden bats, two feet in bounds on catch, farther three-point line, etc

this is equivalent to letting guys who stink at shooting free throws stand a little closer to the basket as pros.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie
Think we will see the USGA/RA stick to their position on Putting, The PGA and PGA Tour are on the side of the Golf Club Manufacture. They must make Millions selling long Putters to the Golfing World. Play with a number of guys with the long putter,
and, guess what, they still cannot Putt under pressure, even for 2$$$$.

The Masters, U.S. Open and British, will all three enforce the ban on long putters, PGA is so late in the season, it won't have a impact on the change in rules.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPathfinder
How can the R&A be taken seriously when they deem 50% of the population unworthy of inclusion in their membership? And they are purported to have the "best interests of the game" at heart? Joke.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
@ Del ... I'm female and I couldn't give a toss about whether or not females can be members of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club. Where is the value in being a member of a golf club that doesn't have a golf course?
c&c, you're an outlier, on most fronts!
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
With respect to the PGA of America, I like the way this is evolving:

Fast tracking the PGA Championship to non-major status. That was its eventual destination anyways.

Playing in Eastern and Southeaster August Sweatboxes, allowing a gaggle of teaching pros into the field, using it as a pre-hype event for the Ryder Cup (which is half from by the PGA of America), and now the possibility of the only major to be played under "Circus Rules"

Good riddance. The global growth of the game deserves another overseas major to replace this celebration of irrelevancy otherwise known as Glory's Lost Hope.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi Golfer
Haven't heard much from Tiger about this lately (I know he is on record, but not since the policy board of the players met). How much quid pro quo does he owe for the display of support Finchem and co showed for his apology speech. I imagine Tiger won't be for the ban, or can summon his best sit on the fence comment...
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrysil
One observation about Tim Finchem.

This episode cannot be seen as an example of Finchem's personal power. It does not represent an expression of power; it doesn't represent a grab for power.

This is a prime example of Finchem being essentially pushed around. Finchem clearly wasn't ahead of the game when the USGA and the R&A were making decisions about the rule. Finchem was playing catch-up from the time they announced the proposed rule, through to the time when his players began protesting, up to the present when Finchem is merely responding, and perhaps not even to a majority of the Tour players.

That's a real question for Finchem: What does a MAJORITY of the Tour's say? Finchem isn't leading anybody or anything. He is following the procedural direction of the Player Advisory Council, which may not represent a majority of the Tour. It is a legalistic position that Finchem has taken. A process move; not any leadership at all.

Finchem could go way out in front and say that the ban is terrible, and wrong, and threaten a move to exempt the PGA Tour from the ban. Or he could determine whether a great majority of golf, and the Tour players, agree that the anchoring ban is overdue, and advocate for the ban. Finchem is doing niether. He is doing the absolute minimum that his job requires.

If Finchem is seeking power, it is only the power of a kind of negotiator between the two sides. Power that is exercised by doing nothing for as along as possible, avoiding taking sides. Some kinda leader.
02.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChuck

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