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Masters Champ Joins Other Players in Getting Representation for Possible Legal Action on Anchored Putter Ban
Adam Scott has joined a group of PGA Tour players who plan on challenging the legality of the proposed ban on anchored putters.
On May 21, golf's two ruling bodies - the United States Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews - announced that the club, which has been used by four of the past six major winners, will be banned starting January 1, 2016.
Scott, who in April became the first Australian ever to win a green jacket at Augusta National, will be represented by Boston-based attorney, Harry L. Manion III. Manion is also working with Tim Clark and Carl Pettersson on a possible legal appeal. A total of nine players are part of the group.
"I talked to him (May 24), and (Scott) felt like it was the right time [to announce his participation in the group]," Manion told Golf Channel.
Manion told Golf Digest that there are no immediate plans for legal action, as he and his clients are waiting to see how the PGA Tour will respond to the ban.
When the ban was announced, the Tour said in a statement that it would "now begin our process to ascertain whether the various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions and, if so, examine the process for implementation." The issue could be discussed at a Players Advisory Council meeting next week at the Memorial Tournament, and that a final decision will be made by the PGA Tour later this summer.
Manion seems to be confident the Tour - which also oversees the Champions and Web.com tours - won't abide by this change to the Rules of Golf. "I am optimistic that the tour will not follow this rule," he told Golf Digest on Friday. He also hopes the issue never makes it to court. "Nobody wants to litigate," Manion added. "So you hope for the best."
When the ban announcement was made, USGA president Glen Nager said the potential for legal challenges had been vetted prior to the decision. "Let me start by saying that we're going to do whatever we have to do for the good of the game because that's our mission," said Nager, an attorney who has argued 13 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. "Our mission is not to avoid legal challenges. Our mission is to determine the appropriate Rules for the game that make the game strong for the long-term.
"We believe that that's what golfers want, that's what golf organizations want, and we believe that the incredible passion that was demonstrated in the comment period shows how passionate people are about the game, that they don't want to tear the game apart. The people don't want litigation, they wanted to be heard and we heard them.
"In the event that any litigation is brought, we'll respond to whatever the claims are, but I can assure you this, as you mentioned a reference to [USGA General Counsel] Mark [Newell]'s professional training and experience and my professional training and experience, we have looked at this from the legal perspective, as well, as we feel confident of our position."
It still remains to be seen whether the PGA of America - an organization with 27,000 club pros nationwide - will implement the new rule, fearing it will be yet another barrier that will contribute to the dwindling numbers of golfers in the U.S. The association's president, Ted Bishop, said when the announcement was made that his group was "disappointed with this outcome.
"As we have said publicly and repeatedly during the comment period, we do not believe 14-1b is in the best interest of recreational golfers and we are concerned about the negative impact it may have on both the enjoyment and growth of the game," Bishop said in the statement. "Growing the game is one of the fundamental purposes of the PGA of America."
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