PGA of America members not in lockstep with anchoring ban

PGA President Ted Bishop addresses attendees of the 96th PGA Annual Meeting.

PGA President Ted Bishop addresses attendees of the 96th PGA Annual Meeting.

In a unique twist to today’s proposal by the U.S. Golf Association and the R&A to ban anchoring, the PGA of America issued a statement that underscores how its members are not in lockstep with a move that they say will hurt the game.

Ted Bishop, the PGA's newly elected president, requested that the governing bodies reconsider the proposed ban on the anchored stroke that has become so popular with the proliferation of long putters.

"The PGA has long supported the USGA in its role of establishing the Rules of Golf governing play and equipment,” Bishop said in a three-sentence statement issued after the USGA and R&A news conference. “We have representation on the Rules of Golf Committee, and we have tremendous respect for the USGA in regard to their critical role in writing and interpreting the Rules of Golf. As our mission is to grow the game, on behalf of our 27,000 men and women PGA Professionals, we are asking them to seriously consider the impact this proposed ban may have on people's enjoyment of the game and the overall growth of the game.”

The third sentence was a plea from Bishop to the USGA after he had heard in the past five days from more than 4,000 PGA members, who Bishop said overwhelmingly oppose the ban on anchoring.

“We certainly want them to take a second look,” Bishop said of the USGA by phone. “Our members as a whole have serious concerns.”

Bishop is concerned about how the proposed anchoring ban, which would enter the next printing of the Rules of Golf as Rule 14-1b on Jan. 1, 2016, could hurt the growth of the game and player development, two key areas for the PGA.

Two weeks ago at the PGA of America’s annual meeting in Baltimore, USGA executive director Mike Davis made a presentation regarding his organization's stance on anchoring and the proposal to ban it.

That presentation, subsequent discussions among the PGA's officers and board members and the eventual results of the poll precipitated a letter being drafted on the eve of the anchoring announcement from Bishop to USGA president Glen Nager and Davis outlining the PGA's concerns.

"As Mike (Davis) mentioned in his presentation to us at our PGA Annual Meeting in Baltimore earlier this month, there does not appear to be any data that suggests that anchoring a golf club results in an unfair competitive advantage,” Bishop said in his letter, dated Nov. 27. “In the absence of such data and based on the polling of our PGA members and all of the exciting progress the industry has made through Golf 2.0 and other related initiatives to make the game more fun and, quite frankly, more enjoyable and welcoming to a broader and more diverse audience, we respectfully ask you to consider our concerns.”

Bishop said the USGA and R&A effectively have decided on the ban and there is little they can say during the three-month comment period that will persuade them otherwise.

However, Bishop does think that the PGA Tour is the next rung on the ladder to ban the anchoring stroke. If the Tour were to decide not to uphold the ban, Bishop contends a ban would be in jeopardy.

According to a statement released by the PGA Tour after the anchoring announcement, the Tour will follow its protocol and discuss the proposed rules change at the next annual meeting, Jan. 22 at Torrey Pines during the Farmers Insurance Open. A review by the Policy Board would follow in March before any action might be taken.

For Bishop, his next step is to huddle with the PGA of America directors and come up with a plan.

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