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PGA Tour against putter ban

Commissioner Tim Finchem says the anchoring ban proposed by the USGA and R&A doesn’t make sense for professional tours or amateurs

By Southland GolfPublished: February, 2013

The PGA Tour has informed the USGA and R&A that it might not play along with the rules-making organizations’ proposed ban on anchored strokes for long putters.

“Our Player Advisory Council looked at it twice, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. “We had the USGA come in and make a presentation to a player meeting in San Diego and the USGA made a presentation to our board. Essentially where the PGA Tour came down was that they did not think that banning anchoring was in the best interest of golf or the PGA Tour.”

The PGA of America and Golf Course Owners Association agree with that stance.

“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 said. “They’ve asked us to give our comments. All we're doing at this point is saying this is our opinion.”

A main reason for the decision by the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council is that there have been no studies to show there is a competitive advantage by using the long putter. The group’s other reasons have to do with growth of the game and enjoyment of the game issues. According to data the PGA Tour reviewed, 20 percent of amateurs are using long putters.

“Thousands of people have gravitated to the method,” Finchem said. “You can't point to one negative impact of anchoring.”

Further, Finchem pointed out, the USGA had opportunities several times since the initial use of the long putters back in the 1970s and 1980s to make a rule against the equipment or the stroke, and it chose not to rule against it then. The PAC members determined it was not reasonable for the use of the club to be restricted now.

When asked whether the PGA Tour would adopt its own regulation regarding use of long and belly putters, Finchem answered, “Our regulations provide that we will follow the rules as promulgated by the USGA provided, however, we retain the right not to in certain instances if we see fit.”

He added that they have not begun those kinds of discussion and believe that since this is still the period of comment there is a chance that the USGA and/or R&A will change their opinion.

“There's no reason to assume that everybody is going to go down different paths,” Finchem said. “I just want to try to calm that sense down. I think we ought to be able to have a discussion about this and come to conclusions without negativity.”