The Golf Channel reported this morning that the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council informed Commissioner Tim Finchem in a conference call last evening that Tour players are overwhelmingly opposed to the ban on anchoring a club in making a stroke. Moreover, many informed participants expect the PGA Tour to issue a letter to the USGA by the end of this week stating its opposition to the ban. The 90-day comment period on the proposed rule ends on February 28.
According to Golf Channel reports, 13 of the 15 members of the PAC oppose the ban. This level of opposition is surprising, since a number of Tour players – including those using belly putters — indicated that they would defer to the USGA’s decision when the proposed rules were released last November. However, the issue of anchoring, and the related issue of rules bifurcation, has become a hot topic over the past month, particularly in light of PGA of America president Ted Bishop’s criticism of the anchoring ban at last month’s PGA Merchandise Show.
Few observers have expected the USGA and R&A to back off from their determination that anchoring is inconsistent with the traditional concept of the golf stroke. However, there seems to be growing consensus among PGA Tour players, PGA Tour officials, and the PGA of America that the USGA & R&A acted unilaterally without taking into account all ramifications of the ban, and that it would be in the best interest of the entire golf community for the ruling bodies of golf put the issue on hold and initiate meaningful discussions with other participants in the golf industry.
If the USGA and the R&A go forward with the ban, the next issue facing the PGA Tour and the PGA of America is bifurcation: the adoption of different rules for different levels of play. Finchem has not discounted the possibility that the PGA Tour could decide not to adopt any anchoring ban, while Bishop has expressed concern that the anticipated disregard by some amateur players of the anchoring ban would open up a “big can of worms” for PGA professionals, including handicapping issues.