The most interesting part of an 8 a.m. Tuesday press conference that is expected to announce the final decision on the proposed anchored putting ban is not the final decision itself, but how the USGA and R&A will spin it to try and appease other stakeholders in the game.
Even David Fay, the former executive director of the USGA, told the Golf Channel here that he didn’t expect the final decision to be any different than the proposal.
That seems to be the consensus opinion, but if the governing bodies of golf back off in any degree on one of the hottest issues in golf, would it be seen as weakness or a threat to the absolute power they’ve traditionally wielded on such matters?
Therefore, what will be the tone with which the final decision is presented? Will the rule-makers be confrontational or conciliatory?
If the decision goes as expected, it could be both if the respective heads of state stick to the form they’ve already exhibited. As I mentioned in this blog a couple of weeks ago, USGA executive director Mike Davis and R&A chief executive Peter Dawson have had contrasting styles.
As Rex Hoggard of the Golf Channel pointed out here, Davis has been playing the role of peacemaker on this side of the Atlantic, where the opposition to the proposal has come from the likes of the PGA Tour, PGA of America and PGA of Canada, among other groups.
In R&A territory, the proposal has been mostly accepted and Dawson has come out swinging, adding that rule-making isn’t done at the negotiating table. You can read more on that here.
The logical question that follows such a statement is why hold a 90-day comment period, something Dawson obviously resents, if that’s the case?
The governing bodies have painted themselves into a corner on a putting stroke that has been allowed for decades, with opposition to it apparently caused by the fact that major champions started winning their titles with the long putters associated with the anchored stroke.
It appears unlikely that they can escape this one with grace and, if they merely transform the proposal into law, there could be a slow burn. The PGA Tour, for example, will likely want a time out to talk with its players before making a statement on how it plans to react.
In the hours leading up to the proposal, it appears that all the controversy that surrounded this proposal was merely a coming attraction for when the dial gets turned up Tuesday morning with the official announcement.
It’s a subject that I talked about in my Toronto Sun column, which you can read here.