Jargon-Cutting Through The PGA Tour's Anchoring Ban Support

Doug Ferguson's game story on the Monday news dump reminds us that Commissioner Tim Finchem said in February the tour was opposed to the new rule because there was no "overriding reason to go down that road."

And now we've gone down that road with his blessing! 

Though judging by the intial poll results, not many of you buy into the idea of extending the use of anchored putters for the amateur game, as the tour suggested.

Jason Sobel feels the PGA Tour's announcement pointed to political maneuvering, but what that is remains murky.

What can’t be argued is that there was indeed a political agenda at play here. Finchem is well versed in the strategies involved in such issues. He’s implemented them in the past with similar success and this matter was no different, as he planned three, four, five steps ahead at every checkpoint throughout the process.

It may not explain everything about this decision, but it does serve to explain how an organization that outwardly opposed an anchoring ban just a few months ago is voting in support of it this week.

Scott Michaux had less trouble interpreting the decision, saying "the tour couldn’t stop itself from sticking its nose in where it doesn’t belong and sounding pompous in the process."

It's a transparent attempt to strong-arm influence any future policy regarding equipment.

The tour clearly believes that the game and its millions of golfers around the world revolve around its hundreds of tour professionals.

I've pondered the press release for a few hours now and would conclude that Michaux has it right, with the caveat that there was also an element of face-saving in this awkward language that followed the policy board decision.

Finchem knew all along from the person he has on the USGA Rules committee that the proposed ban was going to happen, yet seems to behave as if he was surprised, prompting this absurd statement in the press release:

“It is not inconceivable that there may come a time in the future when the Policy Board determines that a rule adopted by the USGA, including in the area of equipment, may not be in the best interests of the PGA TOUR and that a local rule eliminating or modifying such a USGA rule may be appropriate."

Translation: we know from our representative on the ball and implement committee that you have a ball spec and overall distance standard rollback in mind and we can't make up our mind if we like that or not, so we'll mention something about the everyday game to show we care and to appease our friends at the PGA Of America who are opposed to any kind of distance regulation.

Which then makes this largely a blatant attempt to confuse those who are not aware of the amount of access the PGA Tour has to USGA/R&A deliberations...

“Having said that, we have been assured by the USGA that as we move forward we will have an open and effective communication process on a number of levels with the decision makers at the USGA,” Finchem added. “Importantly, this will include a direct communication between the Commissioner’s Office of the PGA TOUR and the USGA Executive Committee. Such a process will ensure that our position is fully and carefully considered and addressed in future rule making.”

Apparently the Commissioner's interactions with the USGA and R&A at the USGA Annual Meeting, PGA Show, Masters, International Golf Federation conference calls, World Golf Foundation/Hall of Fame/Players Championship meetings, Golf 20/20 meetings, First Tee gatherings, U.S. Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship and assorted other points during the first nine months of the year are not enough?

Good grief.

The USGA was asked for a comment on the PGA Tour press release and declined. Frankly, who can blame them?

Instant Poll: Should Governing Bodies Adopt PGA Tour's Advice And Extend Anchoring Ban For Amateurs To 2024?

In light of the PGA Tour's intriguing press release buried lede about taking a page from the groove rule change and adopting the anchored putting ban in 2024 for amateur play, what do you think?

Should the USGA/R&A extend the anchored putting ban to 2024 for amateur golfers?
  
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PGA Tour Going Along With Anchoring Ban in 2016, Wants Extension For Amateurs

For Immediate Release and on a Monday too!

PGA TOUR Policy Board Allows USGA’s Ban on Anchored Strokes

Rule 14-1b will go into effect in PGA TOUR competition beginning January 1, 2016

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL (July 1, 2013) – The PGA TOUR Policy Board today acknowledged that the USGA’s ban on anchored strokes, known as Rule 14-1b, will apply to PGA TOUR competitions beginning on January 1, 2016. In making this acknowledgement, the Policy Board also passed a resolution strongly recommending, along with the PGA of America, that the USGA consider extending the time period in which amateurs would be permitted to utilize anchored strokes beyond January 1, 2016.

PGA TOUR competitions are conducted in accordance with the USGA Rules of Golf. However, the Policy Board reserves the right to make modifications for PGA TOUR competitions if it deems it appropriate.

“In making its decision, the Policy Board recognized that there are still varying opinions among our membership, but ultimately concluded that while it is an important issue, a ban on anchored strokes would not fundamentally affect a strong presentation of our competitions or the overall success of the PGA TOUR,” PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said.

"Would not affect a strong presentation of our competitions?" Nothing like a little authentic frontier gibberish!

“The Board also was of the opinion that having a single set of rules on acceptable strokes applicable to all professional competitions worldwide was desirable and would avoid confusion.”

The USGA and R&A jointly announced the proposed ban on anchored strokes in November 2012; then, following a “comment period,” the governing bodies announced on May 21, 2013 that the ban would go into effect on January 1, 2016.

With respect to golf at the recreational level, the Policy Board noted that the USGA followed a similar course with respect to groove configurations on golf clubs in 2008 where the new groove configurations rule became applicable for elite play in 2010, while the rule does not apply to recreational play until 2024.

“The Policy Board continues to believe that extending the time period the ban would go into effect for amateurs would be beneficial for golf participation and the overall health of the game,” Finchem added.

So nice they are concerned for the amateur game!

“Although the Board has elected to follow the USGA in this case at the elite level, it continues to be mindful of its responsibility to review future rule changes that might be adopted by the USGA in order to determine whether they should apply to PGA TOUR competitions,” Finchem said. “It is not inconceivable that there may come a time in the future when the Policy Board determines that a rule adopted by the USGA, including in the area of equipment, may not be in the best interests of the PGA TOUR and that a local rule eliminating or modifying such a USGA rule may be appropriate.

“Having said that, we have been assured by the USGA that as we move forward we will have an open and effective communication process on a number of levels with the decision makers at the USGA,” Finchem added. “Importantly, this will include a direct communication between the Commissioner’s Office of the PGA TOUR and the USGA Executive Committee. Such a process will ensure that our position is fully and carefully considered and addressed in future rule making.”

PGA Of America Letting PGA Tour Take The Anchoring Ban Reins

Mike Stachura reports that after all that huffing and puffing about the anchoring ban, the PGA of America will be leaning on the PGA Tour to determine its future stance on the anchored putting ban.

"As we have seen over the past few months, the Rules of Golf can affect recreational golf in addition to play at the elite level. The PGA of America will continue to confer with the PGA Tour on the subject of Rule 14-1b, and The PGA of America will reserve any public comments on this matter until after the PGA Tour Policy Board meets on July 1."

The decision to let the PGA Tour dictate things was made at Sunriver, Oregon during the PGA Club Pro which ended with a dramatic playoff shot when Rob Labritz, Director of Golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford, N.Y., holed his third on the par-4 11th at Sunriver Resort (Ore.) to capture the 20th spot.

Thanks to Alex Myers for catching this.

The video:

Mixed Messages Coming From First Post Anchoring Player Meeting

Alex Miceli with a report on the PAC members meeting at Muirfield Village and joining in by phone. The takeaway? A variety of emotions on anchoring, bifurcation and rules, though he suggested more players were again in favor of the ban for reasons unknown.

According to one participant, some PAC members who were on the fence now seem to be going back to supporting the ban.

Anchoring on its own has unique issues: the potential for limiting high-profile players from competing as they have for years, potential litigation and how the Tour might be perceived if it goes against the anchoring ban.

“We’ve got a process we follow as a Tour, and we're going to let it play out,” said PAC member Bo Van Pelt. “I think that’s what you get with 144 guys. Everybody has a differing opinion.”

State Of The Game Podcast 22: Anchoring, Race Issues & Rio

We cover a broad spectrum on the latest issue, including the ramifications of the anchoring ban, the recent racial insensitivity and my visit to Rio to see the Olympic course under construction.

Rod Morri hosts Mike Clayton and myself this week. As always, you can subscribe or listen on itunes, or below:



Instant Poll: Do You View The USGA and R&A More Or Less Favorably After The Anchoring Ban?

A simple question, but an important one since opinions have varied so much about their intent in the anchoring ban discussion.

You can only vote once, just in case area residents of surrounding Far Hills townships and greater St. Andrews were contemplating a constant refresh of the site.

Do you view the USGA and R&A more or less favorably after the anchoring ban?
  
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Tim Clark: "We’re not going to just roll over and accept this.”

Jim McCabe talks to anchorer Tim Clark and he's issued fighting words in response to the announced anchoring ban.

And remember, he did win a Players, which has a first place prize of $8.9 million I think. So he can afford the attorney.

“If there really was a ‘comment period,’ we all know it was all smoke and mirrors," said Clark, standing on the putting green at Colonial Country Club, site of this week's Crowne Plaza Invitational. "Their minds were made up.”

Clark confirmed news that probably won’t come as a surprise to officials at the PGA Tour, U.S. Golf Association and R&A.

“We do have legal counsel,” he said. “We’re going to explore our options. We’re not going to just roll over and accept this.”

Instant Poll: Where Should The PGA Tour Go From Here?

The obvious sticking point in the anchoring ban discussion: what does the PGA Tour do?

Commissioner Tim Finchem sided with the anchorers and his suddenly empathy-laden membership and voiced opposition to the ban. He also seems to be thinking quite a bit about the Champions Tour where several top players anchor. (Farrell Evans looks at some of the top players and what they might do.)

With that in mind...

Anchoring ban: Where should the PGA Tour go from here?
  
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