May
30
2013
PGA Tour seems likely to follow USGA anchoring ban
By Stephanie Wei under Rules
The Masters champ has retained a lawyer but doesn't plan to sue

The Masters champ has retained a lawyer but doesn’t plan to sue

The PGA Tour Player Advisory Council (PAC) gathered for an official meeting on Tuesday at Muirfield Village Golf Club to discuss the USGA and R&A’s announcement of their final decision to ban anchored putting under Rule 14-1b. Players, Commissioner Tim Finchem and other officials participated in the 90-minute meeting in person and by phone.

Finchem discussed the series of events that had happened regarding the anchoring issue since their last meeting and then players and officials also weighed in with their opinions on the imminent decree set forth by golf’s governing bodies that will be put in effect on January 1, 2016.

“Yesterday’s (meeting) was just hearing guys on the PAC’s opinion,” said Aaron Baddeley, a member of the PAC, on Wednesday. “(The PAC meeting) was more just to see what Commissioner Finchem was thinking, and what Slugger White and a couple of the other rules guys were thinking.”

According to Golfweek report by Alex Miceli, Doug Labelle said the opinions were “very mixed” and they “left pretty undecided.”

While Finchem stated the Tour’s stance earlier this season that they were against the ban, it sounds like that sentiment has changed since the USGA and R&A have announced they will go ahead with implementing the new rule to bar anchored putters — mostly because some would like to avoid bifurcation, which was discussed in the PAC meeting, according to Golfweek.

“We had the groove thing that was a mess,” Love said of the 2010 change that limited the size of grooves in irons. “Wasted money, waste of time. We get more balls up and down now than we did before.”

Love went on to outline the other mistakes made by the USGA that have affected Tour players.

“The driver, that was screwed up and now we’re into the putter thing,” Love said. “No matter if that’s right or wrong. The next thing they want to do is the golf ball and the driver thing again.”

Which ultimately begs one question, according to Love.

“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.”

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.

I’ve heard a few guys, like Robert Garrigus echo the same, but it seems like most guys I’ve talked to would prefer avoiding bifurcation, including Henrik Stenson.

“I know the Tour’s standpoint earlier this year was against (the ban for anchored putters), but I think there’s a bigger discussion, as well,” said Stenson last week at the Colonial Invitational. “If one of the Tours in the world goes against the bodies that make the rules, then I don’t know where we’re going to end up. I think it’s two things: One is either you’re against banning anchoring, and then if you go against, you’re basically saying you’re going to start breaking the rules of the game. It becomes a conflict.”

Stenson, the 2009 Players champ, also thinks the Tour will follow suit, but will let it drag out.

Baddeley, who participated in Tuesday’s PAC meeting but had to leave 45 minutes early, said he’s asked his peers for their input.

“The majority of the guys I’ve spoken to — whether they like the rule or didn’t like the rule — think we should go along with the USGA,” said Baddeley. “The great thing about this game is that the game we play out here is the same as the game guys play at home. You can play from the age starting when you’re walking to when you fall over into the grave. You don’t do that with football. You don’t do that with other sports.”

In a press conference on Wednesday, Love implied Commissioner Finchem was pushing for the players to side with the USGA on the issue.

“The best thing I heard yesterday is Tim said, look, there’s always a silver lining if going forward we have more of a relationship and a voice with the USGA,” said Davis Love III, a PAC member, following the announcement that he had been named one of Fred Couples’ assistants for the 2013 Presidents Cup. “He’s not trying to fight them.  He’s trying to get everybody to go in the same direction.  He said let’s just get this done and then golf ball or driver or dropping over your shoulder, whatever the next rule is, we’ll have more of a voice.  He’s thinking ahead.”

Meanwhile, a group of nine PGA Tour players have lawyered up, including Adam Scott, who won the Masters with a broomstick putter. However, Scott clarified that he’s not planning to sue, rather he has hired counsel, so he has the information he needs to know.

“My intention is just to get all the information given to me possible from the PGA Tour,” said Scott on Wednesday at Muirfield Village.  “And just really, for me, like anyone else in a business, to have some professional guidance on this issue.  That’s all it is, to make sure I get all the information that’s possible.

“And I don’t think I have the ability to get that or ask the right questions, necessarily.  I’m not a lawyer.  And that’s not my area of expertise.  So I just want to get that information and make sure that my views are expressed to the Tour and that’s that.  There’s no intention of filing suit or making problems.  But this is a business and I’m treating it professionally and I have professional counsel to do that.”

Fair enough.

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