Tim Finchem’s did the full Jim Baker in his award winning performance announcing the PGA Tour’s objection to the intended ban on anchored putting. The man was smooth building his case on the interest of everyman, or at least an inflated 20% estimate of all amateurs he says are using this method as a salve for their putting woes. He carefully left out of his explanations any mention of the old guys on his Apostle Tour or the equipment manufacturers who have the deepest self interest in keeping these walking sticks in play.
With the PGA Tour and the PGA of America now weighing in against the ban the USGA and R & A are almost without a tether on this issue. These two professional organizations will be putting on the full court press over the next month through their access to broadcasts, press conferences, and probably public service announcements trying to rile public opinion and force the USGA to relent on this intended ban.
The self interest represented in these two bodies is simple. The PGA of America and it’s member club professionals sell tee times, lessons, and equipment to the broad spectrum of amateurs playing the game. They view the anchored putting method as instrumental in keeping the interest and resulting cash contributions of players whose putting acumen has gone south. BTW the equipment goliaths of the game will be more than happy to provide financial support to present this position to the wider public.
In spite of what Tim said, the PGA Tour could give a rat’s behind about the young players who grew up honing this method, they would throw Keegan, Webb, and Carl off the plank in a heartbeat. Their concern is sustaining the competitive level and public interest in their second cash cow The Champion’s Tour. Now there is a place where the 20% estimate might be low and without it many of their marquee guys-Freddie and Bernard to name a couple-might not be shilling Pro-Am slots and Mitsubishi Electric air conditioning units any more. Without Vijay, Sluman, Michael Allen, and the like we could be watching club pros competing for the Charles Schwab points each weekend.
Tim made it sound like his constituency, the PGA Tour pros, were solidly behind their position opposing the ban. Yet many of the best players in the world, including Mr. Woods, have sided with the USGA saying that the anchored method is not really a putting stroke and it does provide an advantage to tour players who have adopted it.
My view is that the ruling bodies picked a fight on the wrong issue because in the end the implementation of the ban is more about principle than tournament results. They should have pointed their arrows at the ball or the trampoline club heads instead. These are the things that have radically changed the way the game is played and marginalized some of the most revered traditional venues in the game.