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PGA of America & PGA Tour Agree to Abide by Anchored-Putter Ban
Following a board meeting in late June, the PGA Tour decided to end its opposition to a ban on the use of anchored putters. The Tour board voted to adopt the ruling made in May by the USGA and R&A. The ban won't go into effect until January 1, 2016.
The putters have been used to win four the past seven major championships, with the latest being Adam Scott's victory in the 2013 Masters.
The PGA Tour decided to fall in step with the ban to "avoid confusion in the global game. A ban on anchored strokes would not fundamentally affect a strong presentation of our competitions or the overall success of the PGA Tour," said Tour commissioner Tim Finchem in a statement.
"Having a single set of rules on acceptable strokes applicable to all professional competitions worldwide was desirable and would avoid confusion," Finchem added. "In making its decision, the Policy Board recognized that there are still varying opinions among our membership."
"If we stop playing by USGA rules, that really opens it up to litigation (by players who anchor)," said Paul Goydos, a player-director on the policy board.
The PGA Tour's decision means it will now join the European Tour, the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour in implementing the ban on anchored strokes.
At the announcement, the Tour unveiled a caveat, asking the USGA and R&A to give amateurs more time to adjust away from the anchored stroke. "The policy board continues to believe that extending the time period the ban would go into effect for amateurs would be beneficial for golf participation and the overall health of the game," Finchem said.
American Keegan Bradley was the first player to capture a major using a long putter at the 2011 PGA Championship. He was followed by Webb Simpson at the 2012 U.S. Open. Wielding a long-handled putter anchored to his body, Ernie Els won last year's British Open, followed by Scott's victory this year at Augusta National.
The board of the most outspoken organization against the ban, the PGA of America, also agreed to fall in line. The PGA of America is comprised of 27,000 club and teaching golf professionals, and has expressed strong concern that the ban on anchored putters would drive players away from the game.
Goydos noted that both the Tour and PGA of American have submitted requests to restrict the ban to the pro-tour level. "They've asked on numerous occasions. The USGA has been consistent saying no, but in this case the (PGA Tour) board said, 'Ask again,' " Goydos told Golfweek's Jeff Rude.
When asked whether the USGA might agree to such an allowance this time, PGA of America president Ted Bishop said, "I hope they give it strong consideration. It's a fair ask. It's a compromise."
The PGA board met June 24 but delayed the announcement of its decision until after the Tour's meeting. "If there would be two sets of rules, I don't think we'd be interested in making the second set," said Bishop, who also sits on the Tour board. "When it became apparent the Tour was not interested in doing it, that ended that."
"We had a very spirited debate and discussion among our board members at the June meeting," added Bishop in a Tuesday statement. "The PGA of America respects the USGA as the Rules-governing body in the United States. We firmly and consistently stated our position throughout the open comment period, and while we agree to implement Rule 14-1b, we continue to feel strongly that the amateur player needs a longer period of adjustment to this rule."