As expected, the anchored putting ban was the hottest topic at the PGA Tour players’ meeting held Tuesday night at Torrey Pines.
The USGA and R&A have already ruled to ban anchored putting starting in 2016. The Tour generally goes along with the ruling bodies’ decisions, but there is some chance that the Tour could enact the ban earlier or decide not to adopt it all, though that seems unlikely.
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell reports that at least one player, Tim Clark (pictured), who currently employs an anchored putting stroke, spoke up adamantly against the ban:
One PGA Tour pro after another leaving the mandatory players meeting declined to comment for the record, but two participants in the meeting said Tim Clark stepped up strongest in defense of anchored putting.
According to the two participants, who did not want to be quoted, U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis gave a presentation outlining the proposed new definition of a legal stroke, which would ban anchored putting. The presentation included photographs of proper and improper strokes. Afterward, when Davis invited questions, Clark was the first to ask a question.
Clark, born with a condition that doesn’t allow him to pronate his wrists, uses an anchored long putter. He isn’t playing the Farmers Insurance Open this week but flew into San Diego to attend the meeting.
“There were a lot of questions, but it was surprising that most of the players who use anchored putters didn’t say anything,” one observer in the meeting said.
Stephanie Wei spoke with three players, who asked that their names not be used. She reports that the USGA presentation, and a discussion of anchoring and bifurcation, took up more than half of the two-hour meeting. Her three sources (Players “Albert, Bart and Cal”) were representative of the three main positions that Tour players have taken on the ban — adamantly opposed, in favor of and indifferent.
Albert summed up the opposition’s stance: “It’s about the actual governing of us as players. I’m not so sure that if PGA Tour members voted, anchoring would NOT be illegal. The real issue is, why do people the USGA Board of Directors, people who don’t play golf professionally, get to make rules for guys that do? That’s the main sentiment.”
He continued: “The USGA has put Tim Finchem in a very interesting situation. He’s basically going to decide — well, it’s up to the PAC and board of directors to decide whether we accept this or say no. It’s a proposed rule and the PGA Tour hasn’t accepted every rule the USGA has put fort and this is no exception.”
Player Bart was in favor of the ban and disagreed with the idea that the Tour should consider going its own way: “In my opinion, the height of arrogance is thinking the Rules of Golf should be tailored to us (Tour pros). The beauty of golf as an individual game is that everyone plays by the rules. Guys are asking, why do we play by THEIR rules? That’s arrogant to me. One of the guys who talked a lot admitted, ‘Yeah i am looking out for No. 1, I’m looking out for me.'”
Player Cal, the indifferent one, summed it up succinctly: “I really just don’t care… because I’m a good putter.”
After talking to her sources, Wei concludes that PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is in favor of approving the ruling, and she seems to suspect that the Tour will adopt it despite all the debate. Finchem is expected to talk more about the meeting during his press conference on Wednesday.
(Photo: Chris Condon/Getty Images)