USGA and R&A rule anchored putters illegal on January 1, 2016
The anchored putter ban from the USGA and R&A is official and will go into effect on January 1, 2016. Will the PGA Tour follow?
The USGA and R&A have finally ruled on the proposed anchored putter ban and have decided to ban the anchored putter starting on January 1, 2016. This is the beginning of the next four-year rules cycle these governing bodies will undergo.
The rule will be called 14-1B and officially a golfer "in making a stroke, must not anchor the club, either 'directly' or by use of an “anchor point."
Here's a look at the infographic released by R&A and the USGA that explains what that does and doesn't mean:
Peter Dawson, CEO of the R&A seems pretty certain the right decision was made.
“We took a great deal of time to consider this issue and received a variety of contributions from individuals and organizations at all levels of the game. We recognize this has been a divisive issue but after thorough consideration we remain convinced that this is the right decision for golf.”
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem hasn't said whether or not the PGA Tour will go along with the USGA and R&A ban.
As Gary Player points out, this is the big question. Player tweeted after hearing about the ban on Tuesday:
"R&A and USGA confirm anchored strokes banned from Jan, 2016. Now over to real decision makers for the pros, the PGA Tour?"
I honestly don't think there's any way they can't ban it.
In February Finchem had some pretty strong words for the USGA regarding the ban.
"We don't attempt to denigrate that position in any way whatsoever," he said. "It's just on this issue, we think if they were to move forward they would be making a mistake.
But if he were to lead the PGA Tour in the direction of going against the USGA and R&A that would mean you could use an anchored putter for PGA Tour-sanctioned tournaments whereas you couldn't during the U.S. Open and British Open.
That would be insane!
And what would the PGA of America (which runs the PGA Championship) and Masters do?
No, there needs to be uniformity throughout and even though Finchem and other PGA Tour golfers fought the good fight during the interim commentary period between when this rule was proposed at the end of 2012 and now, they'll have to go along with it.
I expect them to release a statement soon.
And I guess I understand the decision by the USGA and R&A. It's clear from the 35-plus pages of documents released by both organizations that they took this ruling seriously -- probably too seriously -- which is all anyone was asking for.
The writing was on the wall, though -- it always is when it comes to points of contention that challenge the traditional time-tested nuances of the golf world.
The part that bothers me is what USGA president Glen Nager said on Tuesday morning about whether or not anchoring offers an advantage to golfers.
"It's important to understand that the rules of golf are not based on statistical studies," said Nager.
It seems a little bit unfair to have taken a look at the data, determined what it said one way or another (Nager didn't comment on this), and then throw it out citing it as irrelevant.
Isn't that the only thing that's relevant in this case -- whether or not it's been proven that anchoring offers a statistical advantage to the golfers doing it?
Here's what the 40-page USGA release said:
"Although we understand that people often look for statistical data when engaged in a factual and policy debate, we believe that these assertions are misplaced in the present context and reflect a misunderstanding of the rationale for the Rule and the principles on which the rules of golf are based."
Oh, so basically you couldn't find anything backing up your decision so you just defaulted to the "rules of golf" argument?
More than anything I'm just glad this decision is over. It was becoming the tired conversation of the golf media and the golf world at large. Football is worried about its athletes killing themselves during the game. Golf is worried about whether or not your putter can touch your belly button.
It seemed silly.
So I'm glad there's a ruling, even if I don't totally agree with it because now we can focus on the thing (maybe the only thing) that all of us can agree on: How great it is to watch great golfers play great golf.
No matter how they hold their putters.
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