Players expect long-putting ban to go ahead

BEN EVERILL
Last updated 09:17 24/01/2013
Adam Scott
Getty Images
OUTLAWED: Golf's governing bodies plan to ban the action of anchoring the putter to the chest, as Adam Scott does.

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Players on the US PGA Tour expect the anchored putting ban proposed by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and Royal & Ancient Golf Club (R&A) to go ahead after having their first collective chance to have their say at a meeting.

The proposed rule change is currently in a 'discussion' phase until February 28, but the feel after the meeting at Torrey Pines, where USGA executive director Mike Davis outlined the changes to players, was the decision has already been made.

It stirred up some debate, although players were asked to keep details of Tuesday night's meeting confidential.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem admitted the situation was still causing angst among the playing body and the tour.

"This is difficult," Finchem said.

"If the governing bodies had said in 1965, like they did after Sam Sneed came out and putted croquet style and a week later they changed the rule, if they had said, 'You know, this isn't consistent with historically the way you swing a club, so we're not going to allow it,' nobody would have blinked an eye. Nobody would have been affected, except for maybe two players.

"But 40 years later it does affect a lot of people. So it's a very different kind of issue, and it stirs a lot of strong feelings. So consequently, it's a difficult situation."

If the rule were to be implemented it would prohibit strokes made with the club or the hand gripping the club held directly against the player's body or with a forearm held against the body to establish an anchor point.

The rule would take effect on January 1, 2016 in accordance with the next change of golf's laws.

Adam Scott, Australia's highest-ranked golfer who has used an anchored putting stroke over the past two years, can still hope the tour implements their own rules and continues to allow the method.

However, Finchem hinted this wouldn't be the case.

"The tour always has that option under our regulations (to make its own rules)," Finchem confirmed.

"But I think it's the same as it's always been in other rule situations. Our objective always has been to try our best to follow the rules as promulgated by the USGA and the R&A."

In fact Scott may have to get in his short putter practice sooner rather than later, as Finchem said the tour could actually implement the change sooner than 2016, and even as early as the start of the 2013-14 season in October.

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"... my view would be to move it quicker if it's going to happen because it continues to be a distraction if you don't," Finchem said.

"Here again, the issue is damned if you do, damned if you don't to some extent, so it needs to be thought through carefully."

- AAP

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