PGA Tour make a stand and oppose the potential ban on broomstick and belly putters.
Last December, golf’s ruling bodies announced they were set to ban the anchoring technique to make a golf stroke. Commissioner of the PGA Tour, Tim Finchem (above) announced today that they disagreed, essentially stating that they will allow the technique on their own tour despite what the new rules may say.
“Essentially where the PGA Tout came down was that they did not think that banning anchoring was in the best interest of golf or the PGA Tour”, Finchem said at a press conference held during the final of the WGC Match Play Championship.
“I think the essential thread that went through the thinking of the players and our board of directors and others that looked at this was that in the absence of data or any basis to conclude that there is a competitive advantage to be gained by using anchoring, and given the amount of time that anchoring has been in the game, that there was no overriding reason to go down that road.”
Finchem went on to make a few interesting claims that their data show that 20% of amateurs are using the technique.
“I don’t have a problem with a guy that says, I think the swing rule should be such that you don’t anchor, and had the USGA made that decision in 1975, it would have been a no‑brainer. But the reality is it’s become part of the game, a significant part of the game, and it has had no negative effect on the game. And here we are. So that’s the debate, and it’ll be interesting to see how it concludes.”, Finchem said.
You can find a whole host of other comments from Finchem and an interesting commentary on them over at Geoff Shackleford’s site.
It is another sign the PGA Tour are happy to claim the game as their own, bowing to pressure by leading golfers who continue to use the technique despite claiming their is no advantage in doing so. The player revolt to the news in November was lead by South African Tim Clark who made his case for opposing the ban to the tour player committees.
Many professionals soon seemed to be changing their minds including Ernie Els who had once claimed that he was using the technique because “”As long as it’s legal, I’ll keep cheating like the rest of them”.
Only last week Els stated; “It’s helped some careers. Some guys cannot putt another way, so there’s some stuff that you have to follow through.”
What happens if the ban is enforced?
We may be seeing a situation where the only place a golfer can use the anchoring technique is on the PGA Tour. Not in amateur championships, not at the US Open and certainly not in The Open Championship.
Future golfers will not be allowed to use the long putter until the successfully arrive at the PGA Tour.
As for the current batch of golfers on the PGA Tour using the anchoring technique such as Keegan Bradley, Ernie Els, Tim Clark and Adam Scott; they will be forced to change their technique for these majors or, as unlikely as it seems, sit them out.
So now we await to see if the R&A and the USGA will follow through with their initial proposal to ban the technique, or as some have suggested, we may see some sort of bifurcation rule in place; one rule for the professionals, and one for us amateurs.