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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Goodbye, Anchoring; Hello... Lawsuits?

In case you missed it, the PGA Tour Policy Board announced Monday that it will abide by the USGA and R&A's decision to ban anchored putters, effective 2016 January 1. ESPN has a detailed article about the decision at this link.

That wasn't really a surprise to anybody. Tim Finchem & Co. made sure they went on record as opposing the ban -- in support of their players -- but also said that it wasn't worth getting a terminal case of bifurcation over. They did ask the ruling bodies to consider extending the time for amateurs past the 2016 deadline. They also didn't rule out the possibility of bifurcating other rules in the future, however; that was clearly a message to the ruling bodies of golf that they wouldn't just accept ANY rules simply because the USGA and R&A said so.

The issue may not be dead yet. Although the lawyer who's been advising the 9 most vocal players who oppose the ban said there would be no group lawsuit, he didn't know if any of those players might file individual lawsuits. Of the lot, I believe Tim Clark would be the most likely because of physical limitations; you may remember that he has trouble rotating his forearms. The ban could be construed as an unfair barrier to his participation, especially since anchored strokes have been allowed for so long.

Personally, I've grown tired of it all. I'd like to see fewer rules, not more.

On the whole, I don't believe in bifurcation. It not only complicates an already overly-complicated game, but it sounds like something that would have gotten you stoned or burned in another century: "Player X, you have been found guilty of bifurcating on a public golf course with your caddy. Will you repent, or must we commit your bodies to the flames?"

But if the USGA and R&A really want to protect the game, they would probably do more good by eliminating a huge number of the rules and simplifying the rest. This is 2013, after all, not 1913; the game needs streamlining, not more time-consuming regulations. (Don't forget, this anchoring ban institutes yet another penalty, as described in this USAToday article -- two strokes in stroke play, loss of hole in match play. How much time do you think players will waste arguing over possible breaches? How much time will the lawsuits waste?) As it stands, I'm afraid that "protecting the game" is becoming little more than an exercise in increasing the size of the rulebook.

caricature of Rodney Dangerfield by Rocky SawyerI'm sure the ruling bodies would say that they ARE working to speed up the game, even as they cram yet more rules into these supposedly shrinking rounds. Well, I have just three words for them...


The caricature of Rodney Dangerfield came from Rocky Sawyer's blog. Check it out -- he's awesome!

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