There is a rumour that the USGA and R&A will announce their final decision on the proposed ban on anchored putting soon and it can’t come soon enough. It’s been nearly two months since the comment period ended.
About the only good reason for the governing bodies of golf sitting on this decision would be if it’s announced that they’ve had secret discussions with the PGA Tour about its resistance to the ban and some kind of agreement has been reached, but that’s unlikely. Perhaps, a grandfather clause for players already using long putters? Don’t think so.
The length of time that it has taken to make this call leads one to suspect if it’s due to planning the spin that they plan to put on this contentious decision as opposed to any real decision-making.
Anchoring was a hot topic of discussion even before the formal proposal was announced in November.
It started with Keegan Bradley winning the 2011 PGA Championship with a long putter and got even hotter when Webb Simpson won the U.S. Open last year and Ernie Els, the British Open.
When Adam Scott’s win at the Masters gave long putters the grand slam, it was felt by some that would steel the resolve of the USGA and R&A to ban anchoring, but personally, I believe that their minds were made up when they made they floated the balloon in November.
The majority of respondents to the current GNN Poll agree. As of this writing, 78 per cent of respondents felt the governing bodies had already made their minds up to ban anchoring, while only three per cent felt that Scott’s win would be a deciding factor.
Surprisingly, another 19 per cent felt that the USGA and R&A will alter their stand and not ban anchoring. If that was the case, it would also justify the time it’s taking for a final call on this matter.
The poll is still live and you can cast your vote on the home page.
The other aspect of this debate is that the USGA and R&A have strong support from the rest of the world, with most of the resistance to the anchored putting proposal coming from within North America, so that should make the decision-making easier.
The arguments for and against the anchoring ban shot back and forth even before the November announcement was made and continued during the 90-day comment period when about every angle was debated publicly and I’m sure in the feedback the governing bodies received.
A few meetings after the comment period should have decided this issue, but here’s where it becomes about spin more than decision-making. There’s a real possibility that it won’t be as simple as just putting a ban into effect in January, 2016.
If the PGA Tour decides to carry it to the next level and allow its players to use long putters, it will shatter uniformity at events such as the British Open if the ban goes ahead.
There’s also a possibility that some players who have used the long putters will challenge a ban in the courts.
What of the argument by the PGA of America and PGA of Canada that such a ban would affect growth of the game?
There likely isn’t much they can do about it if the ban does come down, but the debate will rage on after the official announcement.
That’s what the USGA and R&A sees coming down the pike and they’re hoping as much as they can for as soft a landing as possible after the announcement.
However, the repercussions of the announcement are the very reason that an official decision on anchoring needed to be made as quickly as possible given the backlash that could follow.
The November proposal took decades of players using long putters before it was introduced. Unless they’ve changed their minds on this issue, it appears that the USGA and R&A are moving at the same pace to make the final call and set off the firestorm that’s sure to come.