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PGA 'O America Attacks: Bring On The PGA Tour Rules Of Golf!

Not since Sonny Corleone was hit with 300 bullets (yet not one to the face!) has one of Golf's Five Families gone on such a brazen attack of another family. Yet the PGA of America sounds determined to go after the USGA and R&A's place in the game with its latest missive, penned by president Ted Bishop in his weekly column that summarizes the recent PGA Conference of Leaders.

An "Open Forum" was convened and mostly discussed anchoring.

A straw poll was conducted on Tuesday and there was not one single hand that went in the air to support the proposed ban of the long putter by the USGA and R&A from the over 200 in attendance.

Or maybe just confirmation that groupthink is alive and well in America?

During the Open Forum, I gave a brief presentation to our PGA members on Local Rules and Conditions of Competition as defined by the Rules of Golf. The reason for doing this was to insure that our Section leaders were clear on their understanding that if the proposed ban is implemented, PGA professionals and their facilities will not have the ability to impose a local rule or a condition of competition allowing anchoring without it being a direct violation of the Rules of Golf.  This would be bifurcation of the Rules in its purest sense.

I do believe the Rules of Golf are entirely optional, so technically it's not bifurcation? More like, not playing by the optional Rules of Golf, right?

Currently, there are four Conditions of Competition in the Rules of Golf that are adopted differently by the four major championships. In the case of the One Ball Rule, the PGA Championship does not accept it while the other three majors do.

There's a buried lede for you! Go on...

However, there has been widespread speculation that if the proposed anchoring ban is implemented by the USGA and R&A that the PGA TOUR might adopt in its own set of rules which will allow anchoring. The question was then posed to PGA members in the Open Forum, which rules would you follow? Those adopted by the USGA, banning anchoring, or a set of PGA Rules, which might permit it? Less than a dozen in attendance indicated support of USGA Rules and well over 200 indicated support of what could be PGA Rules.

Great! Can't wait to read these special rules. That should only take about 1000 hours of Tim Finchem's time in the coming months, not to mention the massive legal bill they'll run up ironing out differences and proving they aren't plagiarizing the copyrighted Rules of Golf.

Just the thought of the non-profit PGA of America and PGA Tour dipping into their hundreds of millions in the bank and spending so much time on something that won't make them a dime makes my Friday!

Of course, it'll take them about three years to get these rules up and running. If we're lucky.

The PGA of Canada recently surveyed its membership and approximately 33% responded with nearly 65% opposing the proposed ban on anchoring. The PGA of Canada has sent a letter to the R&A and the USGA expressing the opinions of its members. I have also had conversations with Shizuo Mori, the Chairman of the PGA of Japan. He indicates that while there is nothing official yet, he agrees more with the position of the PGA of America and the PGA TOUR. Japan and Canada both are governed by the R&A.

PGA Tour, PGA of America, PGA of Japan. Tim, don't forget to build in translation costs to that bill for the new PGA Tour Rules of Golf! But it'll be great having your partners from Japan at the table, won't it?

A week ago, the European Tour issued a statement in support of the proposed ban. Some would say that this was a reversal of positions based on earlier comments by the European Tour that “there was no compelling reason to change the Rule at this time.” The Sunshine Tour, located in South Africa, also supports the ban.
The line in the sand seems to be the Atlantic Ocean. Golf bodies west of the Atlantic are agitated by the proposed anchoring ban. Those East of the Atlantic seem more inclined to follow the authority of the rules makers. As Michael Bamberger from Sport Illustrated pointed out to me, Americans always seem to be more inclined to challenge authority than their European counterparts. History has proven that.

Or maybe the Europeans don't have silly fast greens and therefore as many yippy golfers?

The PGA TOUR recently acquired the Darrell Survey Data from 2009 to present as it relates to usage numbers of mid-length and long putters at all official PGA TOUR events. In assessing this date, the TOUR has cross-referenced the number of players using these clubs per event (of whom almost all are presumably anchoring) with field size, identifying a percentage of use at each event.

From 2009 through much of 2011 between 5-10% of the fields anchored. From late 2011 to early 2012, there was a significant spike in usage where the TOUR saw 15-25% of the field using these clubs.

Which would be supporting the notion that anchoring was increasing at an amazing clip?

However, following the end of the West Coast PGA TOUR events in the early spring of 2012, usage begins to drop and we see a continuing downward trend that appears to be approaching the previous levels of 2009-2011.

And therefore...the announced proposed ban has already discouraged some? Or it was a fad and the governing bodies are merely eliminating a fad?

Certainly another issue facing PGA members is at the recreational level. We have serious concerns on how the ban on anchoring could affect the enjoyment of the game by our amateur customers. Over the past few months, I have received dozens of letters from concerned amateurs who look to the PGA of America to stand up and protect their interests.


These people are discouraged and frustrated that an anchoring ban will be imposed after they adopted a previously legal method of putting. Most indicate they will play less golf or quit. The game cannot afford this.

I think we need to commission a study on this, no?

We feel the USGA and R&A have underestimated the impact and ramifications that Rule 14-1b will have on the overall state of the game. It has become one of the most divisive issues that modern day golf has seen. All of these controversial issues will dissipate if the proposed ban is dropped.

Oh, something tells me that isn't so!

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Reader Comments (66)

If the proposed the rule is approved the "ban" won't go into effect for another:

33.5 months


145 weeks


1,018 days.

Think about that. The Vitriol Meter needle is already pegged in the red chaos zone and we have another 1,018 days of fighting to look forward too -- sweet!!

The USGA certainly has "underestimated" the situation and handled it about poorly as is possible. Pitiful.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
I would be a lot more sympathetic to this argument if the PGA of America folks were not mostly whining about the proposed rule for one reason -- it could cut into revenues because they think it will drive away a few players.

This is the same greed that has tainted the fabric of the game in the States already.

An admittedly overdue rule change is made by the gatekeepers of the sport, for the perceived greater good of the game, and these club pros are worried about losing, what, maybe two people per day from the tee sheet?

Tell you what, let me echo a common verbal complaint on this topic: Show me the data on that one. Demonstrate to all of us that people will quit over the anchoring issue.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered Commentersteve elling
PGA is its own worst enemy. the is going to backfire in finchems face.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill
Wow!dozens of letters-that really should move the needle!!
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
The PGA better start doing a better job of teaching people to anchor the putter, because I never see anyone doing it.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHilltop
I just keep wondering if the PGA is so adamant about this because of the slippery slope it could have on equipment rules (rollback of material, size etc of clubs, the ball, etc.) and therefore revenues and profits for equipment companies, PGA pros etc.

Imagine all the people who might just take more lessons to learn how to putt, to hit the ball farther and straighter etc.

I just don't get such a "unanimous" disapproval of the change in rules.

Did the change in grooves cause a response like this? Didn't that hurt the average guy who tends to play out of the rough more? How many people did that force away from the game? Oh probably not because we all had to buy new clubs boosting the profits to club makers and PGA pros.

Sad stuff.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim
Revenues to club pros will not go down one bit if this rule is adopted.Nor will they if ball rules are changed.People wil still change putters and still buy balls.Faster rounds,cheaper green fees and more friendly golf clubs are what is needed.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
@Jim - my guess is that the vast majority of weekend or casual golfers have no idea about the groove issue one way or the other. They don't know if their grooves are conforming to the new rules, and they don't care. But the long putter - thats easy to see if someone is not following the rules. I am all in favor of the ban, but I think that the idea that club pros (let alone the PGA Tour) will somehow be interested in crafting exceptions for their events a big ridiculous. To what end ? So that a few players get a better score than they otherwise would have ? Hoping the USGA and R&A stick to their plan and change the rules. If some choose not to follow them, that is their business. But what they won't be is abiding by the rules of Golf.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Can't wait to read the PGA's equipment rules: Whatever our corporate daddies in Carlsbad want.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOB
Steve, can you expound on the PGA of America/revenue thesis? How does two less players per day on the tee sheet affect the revenues of the PGA of America? Can you trace out for us how the dollars trickle up?
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Geoff writes:

"From 2009 through much of 2011 between 5-10% of the fields anchored. From late 2011 to early 2012, there was a significant spike in usage where the TOUR saw 15-25% of the field using these clubs.

Which would be supporting the notion that anchoring was increasing at an amazing clip?"


Sounds good right? It used to be 5-10% but now its 15-25%, so it must be heading to 30 or 40 or 70 percent soon, right?

Go back to the featherlight clubs, aluminum shafts, etc and you'll see the same pattern when a new thing like the belly putter shows up. Tour players looking for an edge give it a whirl, and some will see results, but most won't so they go back to what they know. That happened with aluminum shafts and featherlight clubs. And it'll happen with the belly too.

The USGA made the mistake of taking a blip based on a fad as a long-term trend. But I guess that's what happens when you make up rules without thinking them through and abandon every sense of principle your organization has ever had in the name of knee-jerk reactionism.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterShivas
Once again
One or two golfers per tee sheet lost.
That is an acceptable loss then?
How many people does an anchoring ban ADD to the game?

How about one or two less golf writers who do not get facts correct?
Such as. The PGA of America, and PGA TOUR are different organizations?
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCeloso

Good point, I think you are correct. Most people have no idea on grooves and that anchoring is a bit more obvious though not all long putter users wil anchor.


I think we probably would see a hit to equipment sales if an anchoring ban expands to drivers, irons, etc. What would the neded be to upgrade as grooves don't wear out for the average guy that often. Already the "improvements" are miniscule but a certain manufacturer-ier-ier would not like teh average guy to know that.

You nailed it, bring the cost down and get the pace of play faster and people will play more. That surely will have a bigger impact on the game than whether anchoring is legal or not.

I keep going back to how many people post handicap scores after using a "mulligan" on the first hole, how many post scores with gimmes, how many post scores without going back to the prior played shot on a lost ball when they didn't hit a provisional, or are playing with illegal grooves. Now we have to believe that all players will either stop anchoring because it will be against the rules or quit they'll quit the game. Well, most don't even know the rules. :/
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim
Shifts, sounds like a lot of the same reasons the cheater line shouldn't be outlawed.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone Else
lost in this is the fact that most pga of america pros would be playing for big money if they could putt. the reason they're club pros is because they can't putt. take away their belly putters and the embarrassment that comes playing with members will be too much...and the pros will never get out of the golf shop. i'll bet the percentage of club pros with long putters in the bag is even larger than finchem's ridiculous 20% claim.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered Commenterbaked
Baked-could be a lot of truth in what you say.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
baked, you clearly haven't played with many PGA of America pro's....were you baked when you posted that? ;0)
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Don't be so eager to discount what baked said, DTF. If you want to be truthful, I suspect you know or have known a good number that are ball strikers at a very high level but can't make the next leap when they hit the green. And there's been plenty of talent in your section to choose from, even if they aren't so inclined to admit it ;-)
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
@Jim - I agree with your argument. The ban on anchoring is not going to drive the golfers away because they will continue to anchor, just like they continue to play mulligan, drop a ball next to the OB and play on, etc. etc. I don't recall anybody getting kicked off the course for breaking these long-established rules. I do see a lot of people walk away from the game because of the cost of the game, people not learning how to play (and accompany their golf playing friends) because of the $150 an hour for these PGA pros to teach them, the $300 driver, and those damn $50 balls. The ban on anchoring only affects those that want to compete in tournaments (and I doubt even corporate outing tournaments would even bat an eye towards their 20+ handicap salespeople anchoring their putter).
03.15.2013 | Unregistered Commenternguyenvuminh
Again: Elling and all the rest expect us to believe that the ruling bodies are perfect and the pga and pgatour are sleazy selfish rotten groups that dishonor the game. "Why oh why can't they just knuckle under to the magnificent will of the ruling bodies?"
Well the answer is that the ruling bodies are capricious., venal greedy losers who are out of touch with golfers. All the usga really does is run eleven championships. They have no credibility as "stewards of the game". They let anchoring slide for twenty years and then all of a sudden we must ban anchoring. They look ridiculous. The R&A, fresh from turning the hated Martin hawtree loose on TOC, says to trust them, they are all about the good of the game. Do they have women members?Elling how can you stand with the r&a when they hate women? Shouldn't you be hounding those woman-haters?
03.15.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoe
So, can it be that no cheating stick for US and British open but swipe away for other events including Masters and PGA? The Masters folks being always stuck on tradition and crap like that, I can see them following USGA rules . . . Sounds gooooofy.

If they are banning the long stick, why not ban oversized head drivers, super-duper golf balls, and graphite shafts while they are at it?
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNubi
Good for the PGA of America. By having the local rule, men's and women's clubs will allow anchoring in their club tournaments. I wonder if you can post if you anchor to GHIN or if another "handicap" system will be implemented. My guess is that the USGA will allow for handicap purposes but only ban on their competitions so they don't lose the revenue stream.

Most of us won't play in major tournaments so it won't matter. It'll be interesting what rules would be applied for county and city amateur tournaments.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBob
D. mac, I know bunches, and I mean bunches, of players who possess the ball striking abilities that equal or exceed the average PGA Tour player and I can only think of one who was really done in by putting but he was still able to play at the Nike level for a while (currently loops for the greatest player to ever come out of Drake). As for teaching pro's, a guy like Brian Mogg is the exception, not the rule...and as far as I know Brian wasn't done in by putting. I'd be interested to know the % of club pro's who anchor and I'd make a large bet it's less than 20%.

As for Finchem and the 20%, let it go guys, he knows that's a bad number. I think he was confused and/or misspoke...everyone knows that's not accurate. It was a mistake made on live TV...he wasn't trying to sell anyone on that number. Why hasn't any reporter followed up and gotten clarification on that?

D. mac, in my opinion 99% of the time when a guy with extraordinary talent doesn't make it the problem is 6", not 3'. Playing for a bunch of bets in the shootout at Bay Hill is all nice and good but put up some ropes and a bunch of fancy scoreboards and provide a big purse and EVERYTHING changes, EVERYTHING. I once saw a guy birdie every par 4 at Bay Hill, in one round! The guy who did it was so lethal that it got to the point the 1994 St. Jude Classic winner refused to ever take another personal bet with him...the birdie machine never got exempt on any tour except those that you could pay to join. Oh, and he can still play, really play...line up all the club pro's you can find, I'll back my guy (he uses a 34" Cameron).

nguyenvuminh, you and I are generally on the same page but I disagree with you on this one. When the Callaway ERC illegal driver came out (endorsed by Arnie) nobody at our club dared use that thing... Maybe a bunch of 75 year old hit and giggle players who allow lie improvement everywhere and give putts inside the flagstick wouldn't care, but no self respecting club player will go there, nor will his fellow club members tolerate it.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
these people are morons
03.15.2013 | Unregistered Commentergreg c
Ted Bishop playing chess with Tim F and Mike D
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
When you start the discussion with a comment that this is about banning the long putter, you do a disservice to your readers. There is not a ban proposed on the equipment. The ban is on the method of use and would apply to short putters as well. the issue is anchoring a club of any length to take away the concept of a true stroke. There have been other methods that also have been banned via the rules. Maybe you should put this proposal into proper historical context.

Several well respected golf teachers say they don't see the issue. An anchored "stroke" or a real stroke both require a different teaching/learning process. Maybe there should be some discussion on that -- another approach that I have yet to see.

Lastly, the word is ensure...not insure. You ensure people understand the rules, and you are not selling a policy to insure that they know it. Learn the English language and use it properly.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric
Someone who can play golf well, but who would quit the game if they are not allowed to use a long putter and anchor the butt-end of the putter to their belly or chest...

...needs to talk to a shrink.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
Excellent. It's now established it's time for different rules for different folks. USGA and R&A competitions, PGAtour, Club competitions, Social, Blind, Disabled players, Hit and giggle......etc
Someone here suggested a while back that I set up a website with a new set of Rules of S-Golf (S for Social or Starting). So on the first tee, a social group can say "Rules of S-Golf" and all will know the Rules they are playing by.
No obligatory stroke and distance for a start.
So only the anti anchorers are guilty of groupthink?

Got ya.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterUnderTheChin
Eric, if you were writing up a police report how would you describe the connection between Matt Kuchar's left arm and Matt Kuchar's putter?
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Well DTF, I think we have a different interpretation of what baked called big money. Big is a relative term when viewed from several floors atop NYC. I didn't take it to mean PGAT money like they can walk right out of the golf shop and compete on tour if they were only able to putt. That's a stretch. Any aspirations were well before they hung out a shingle. You either know you can early or you know better in a hurry. To me the 6" you mention is spelled confidence, talent a given as the long game is not part of the discussion. Lets be real, if the 3-footer is a problem you never get that far to begin with. I've known a few card holders in my day as well. I've been told the makeable lenght that never drops with enough regularity is the killer. As you know, one or two of those a round can mean everything.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Depends if you are talking real club professionals, or the quasi pros, who teach or work
half assed jobs so they are eligible for events played against guys (or gals) who actually
work in golf shops full time.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCeloso
A straw poll was conducted on Tuesday and there was not one single hand that went in the air to support the proposed ban of the long putter by the USGA and R&A from the over 200 in attendance.

Sounds like Harry Read was in charge of this vote........
DTF - I hear you on the Callaway driver but I also see numerous instances of golfers not quitting the game or being forced off the course from playing BEHAVIOR that is not consistent with the rules. Equipment is one thing but playing behavior is different. I would guess many players not throwing away their non-complying wedges in the upcoming years as well. At the end of the day, I just don't buy into the argument that this ban will shrink the game as I see too many other elements that have been doing harm to the game more clearly (cost to play, cost of equipments and balls, cost of those PGA pros who teach newcomers to the game, time it takes to play, air of elitism, etc.)
03.15.2013 | Unregistered Commenternguyenvuminh
Look .. here's the deal .. and there is nothing else to be said on the subject, period ..

It's not our game. It's their game. They invented it. So .. they make the rules. We follow the rules. If the R&A says .. this is the way it is, that's the way it is. Period. There is no further discussion and there is no such thing as "bifurcation" (which I had never heard of in my life). The rules are the rules are the rules and it doesn't make any difference what the PGA of America or The PGA of Mars or The PGA of Alpha Centauri says ..

It's their game. We just play it. They make the rules. That's what they do. That's what they have always done.

End of story.

There is nothing further.


It's not our call.

03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDD
DD...that was the best laugh I've had since I saw Leno and his sidekicks on Sunday night -- well done!
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
@BrianS.. you wrote.... "my guess is that the vast majority of weekend or casual golfers have no idea about the groove issue one way or the other".....

My reply on that is as your search engine of choice will show... many in the "golf media" had or still have zero idea of what the actual correct groove issue/change was..... as pretty much every major golf media outlet reported the groove change incorrectly (square grooes banned... wrong) from the start. Go figure.

Can't fault the general public on this point when the people that were/are paid to report news to all level of golfers did not get it correct from the start.
03.15.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
PGA of America, like the USGA, National Golf Course Owners Association and players like Els, Bradley, Clark and the rest who cheat, aren't smart enough or don't care enough to know what's good for golf. How could people not see that anchored putting is a blight on the game? I just hope the damage done to this point isn't irreparable. I think the game will continue, but I'd recommend making the ban immediate.

To Elling's point, the only practical reason to oppose the ban is greed (who cares about 1-2 percent of their business, especially in a thriving industry like golf?). Or maybe it is because PGA pros can't putt. Surely, none of the idiots really believe it's in the best interests of the game to ban the stroke.

I just hope opposition to the ban is dropped and we can let the USGA and R&A - the only two organizations that know what's best for the game - lead golf.
03.16.2013 | Unregistered Commenterknotty pine
The boys in the plaid jackets are closer to the core player than the boys in the Blue Blazers. The Blue Blazer Suits lost control of the game long ago. If they think rolling back a rule on anchoring the putter is the most important issue on the plate, then enough said. The USGA conducts 13 champtionships a year. The local PGA Professional deals with that many in two weeks at the club level. If they ban anchoring, then we should go back to hickory, gutta and greens that stimp at 6.0. The USGA is trying to hold on to the past, while they break the sound barrier going past the very standards that were once the game. Now we have accepted the 340 yard drive; the 510 yard par 4's; the 280 par 3's. Are you kidding me? Anchoring is not the problem here folks. The game has lost its touch with the real standards of the game, and the average club-level player. Cost is out of control for course maintenance. Turf equipment is so costly clubs are not upgrading because they can't afford it. Much bigger issues are at stake than the one they are trying to make front page. I feel sad for the game.
This is laughable...PGA should worry about other things other than the Rules of Golf.
03.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterViz

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