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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Anchor Around the PGA Tour's Neck

The big "event" on Tuesday was the PGA Tour's Player Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting at the Memorial. Why? Because they were discussing what to do about the anchored putting ban.

I found a couple of articles about it, one from Alex Miceli and one from Rex Hoggard. (I'll be quoting from these two in this post.) And while the coverage on GC indicated that nothing had been settled -- the PAC only makes recommendations to the Tour Policy Board -- it seems equally clear to me that this issue isn't going to be settled quickly.

The PAC has 16 members elected by Tour players to represent them. After the 90-minute meeting they hadn't agreed on anything; they're just talking for now. But here are some of the high points.

Miceli wrote that "According to one participant, some PAC members who were on the fence now seem to be going back to supporting the ban."

He also wrote that "[Bo] Van Pelt confirmed that some players would like to see anchoring banned at the start of the 2014 season, to get it behind them, but the list of positions on anchoring is lengthy."

According to Hoggard, Davis Love said “It’s a tough one because there’s a lot of passion.” Love's personal stance may best represent the problem the Tour faces:
“There is a sentiment to either agree with it and move on, which is what we ought to do, or let’s start making our own rules. That’s the big decision here now. Maybe there is a silver lining here. Maybe it becomes a better relationship with the USGA moving ahead.” (emphasis mine)
But given that Love also spoke to Miceli at length about the other "mistakes" made by the USGA and then said the real issue was:
“So should someone else be in charge, or should they be in charge? We wouldn’t have gone through this groove thing if we were making the rules.”
clearly the desire to follow the tradition of the ruling bodies is at odds with the feeling that the ruling bodies just aren't doing that great a job. It begs the question of bifurcation -- two sets of rules. Miceli writes:
"Will the anchoring ban lead to two sets of rules in golf? According to Love, there is a lot of sentiment for exactly that, to break away from the USGA rules and have the players make their own rules."
That's interesting, don't you think? Finchem has already said he's not against having two sets of rules in certain cases. It appears the Tour players are seriously considering that possibility.

Two of the PAC members -- Webb Simpson and Brandon Steele -- use anchored putters and are part of the 9-player group presumably discussing a possible suit against the Tour if it agrees to follow the USGA ruling. Yet the players Miceli and Hoggard talked to said the PAC wasn't too concerned about possible lawsuits during their meeting.

Hoggard may have summed it up best:
"But a looming lawsuit, or the end of anchoring, seemed to be less of a flashpoint during Tuesday’s meeting than a fundamental concern over who makes the rules."
The Policy Committee doesn't meet until July. I'll be surprised if the Tour comes to any conclusions before then. But it seems to me that anchoring has touched a different nerve than any of the USGA/R&A's previous rulings...

This one just might be the straw that broke the camel's back. We'll see.

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