PGA Of American Opposes Belly Putter Anchoring Ban

I find it interesting that the PGA of America opposes the anchoring ban. From the PGA of America’s site:

PGA of America Statement in Response to USGA Announcement on Anchoring:

“The PGA has long supported the USGA in its role of establishing the Rules of Golf governing play and equipment. 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.” – Ted Bishop, President, The PGA of America

PGA of America Survey of Membership Indicates Majority Concern for Rules of Golf Banning Anchoring of a Club

A PGA of America survey, conducted in November among the Association’s 27,000 members, resulted in 4,228 PGA Professionals responding, representing nearly 16 percent of the total membership. The survey revealed that nearly two-thirds of the respondents oppose a change in the Rules of Golf that would ban the anchoring of any golf club.

What’s most interesting about this is the PGA’s reasoning “the impact this proposed ban may have on people’s enjoyment of the game and the overall growth of the game.” What I read between the lines here is that the PGA’s concern apparently is for the common sort of golfer, and not the upper echelon represented by the USGA and R&A.

The episode also reinforces what I’ve mentioned a couple of times here on this blog: that to the vast majority of golfers,  the PGA of America is far more important than the USGA. Outside of the rulebook (if they even own a copy), few golfers ever encounter the USGA. PGA Professionals, on the other hand, are near the center of our golfing life. They manage the courses, staff the pro shops, give lessons, run the events most of us play and as a whole, work to make our golfing experiences enjoyable. If the USGA were to disappear tomorrow, I think it would be a while before most golfers noticed. If the PGA of America disappeared, we’d know immediately.

Here’s something I’ve been mulling over for a couple of years (and now seems as good a time as any to express it): I think the PGA of America should bifurcate the Rules of Golf on behalf of the ordinary golfer. Let the USGA and R&A have their tournament rules, while the PGA of America manages the rules for the good of the rest of our games. The PGA of America could offer a “simplified rules of golf” that allows recreational players (most of us) to play our games in a fun, straightforward and equitable fashion. There’s no need for the 752 pages of decisions on the rules of golf in the official USGA handbook on top of the hundred or so pages in the basic rules. I think it’s telling that one of the USGA’s “services” is answering the “thousands” of inquiries they get each year on the rules.

The PGA of America can start by getting rid of stroke-and-distance, which just makes rules breakers out of a sizable majority of golfers and if followed, clogs up the courses (this is my pet peeve). To keep up pace of play, make it a stroke penalty and have the golfers drop the ball as close as they can to it was last sighted.

Other rules that could be changed, based on my observations of the way people really play. (I realize that I am committing golf heresy here. I do not advocate ignoring the rules)

  • Balls lost in plain sight should not be counted as lost. I can’t count the number of times I have seen a ball come to rest in the distance, only to be unable to locate it upon arrival. This doesn’t happen at high end tournaments because of the spotters.

  • Get rid of measuring on drops. Eyeballing the situation is fine. “Close enough for government work” is the rule in the leagues I’ve played in.

  • Balls in divots should be treated like ground under repair. There probably aren’t a lot of un-repaired divots on the USGA board’s country club courses, but the ones I play on sometimes look like the face of the moon. The same goes for holes. The USGA says that holes made by groundhogs get relief, while holes dug by dogs do not. All holes should get a free drop.

  • Make gimmies legal. People take them anyway, and making everyone putt out just adds to the length of a round.

  • Indeed, any rule that slows pace of play could be tossed.

  • Repairing spike marks should be legal. There’s a big difference between competition greens and normal ones. (of course, that might lead to delayed play).

  • Allow moving balls in footprints. Raking is not a habit at many courses.

  • Any ball in poison ivy, or in suspected poison ivy, or near any other potentially dangerous wild stuff should result in a free drop (Poison ivy is not one of the exceptions in the “decisions”.) Not much of that stuff at country clubs, but plenty where I play.

  • You should be able to move a rock in a trap. On many courses, they pose a health hazard, not just a playing hazard. Again, this goes to course conditioning differences. I can think of a few other course-conditioning safety issues that should be addressed.

  • A water-logged bunker should trigger a free drop outside the bunker. Conditioning, again.

  • Dump the double hit rule.

  • Advice should be legal.

  • Getting hit by your own ball should not be a penalty. The pain and embarrassment is penalty enough.

    Then they can bring back anchoring. And the croquet putt.

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  • 3 thoughts on “PGA Of American Opposes Belly Putter Anchoring Ban”

    1. I have sent a letter to the USGA suggesting they treat “anchoring” in a similar fashion as they do range finders and GPS devices.  Create a Specimen Local Rule that clubs could adopt that allows the use of “anchoring” just like the Local Rule available for distance measuring equipment.

      One does not see range finders or GPS units during professional or high level amateur events. Those players are good enough to work around that issue.  Regular golfers, however, have made these things ubiquitous on the golf course.  Let all those golfers that are never going to try to play on the PGA Tour or qualify for the US Amateur continue to use long and belly putters “anchored” to their body.  Don’t make all these players “outlaws”.

    2. I think what they have done is forgotten about the average golfer when enforcing these laws.

      I agree, many golfers with bad backs will be seriously effected by these new rules.

      The facts are the best putters on tour do not use the longer putters. Yes they have won some major tournaments in the last few years but that is it.

      The game of golf will always reward pure ball strikers like Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.


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