With the PGA of America strongly opposed to the USGA and R&A’s proposed anchoring ban, the attempt to change the way golfers maneuver their long putters could hit some obstacles golf’s governing bodies may not have anticipated.
While the PGA Tour and LPGA Tours will apparently take wait-and-see approaches, the PGA of America expressed serious concerns with how the ruling may affect everyday golfers, many of whom weighed in with the membership organization on the planned anchoring prohibition in an online survey last week.
Newly installed PGA of America president Ted Bishop pointed to the 63 percent of 4,228 responses (16 percent of the PGA of America’s membership of 27,000) who responded in the survey with a resounding "No" to the possibility of an anchoring ban.
"To get almost two-thirds response on this issue indicates the concern that PGA professionals have all over the country for how this might impact the growth of the game," Bishop told Golf Channel on Wednesday.
"Maybe some of the frustration that the PGA of America feels is, we have conveyed some of our concernss...on how this might impact the growth of the game, enjoyment of the game, rounds of golf," Bishop said. "We spent a lot of time in the past year promoting Golf 2.0 [an initiative to boost participation in golf] and our efforts nationwide to grow the game. We’ve had a tremendous amount of industry support for this and we don’t want to see anything happen right now that takes a step backwards in that area."
Forcing "core golfers" to remove long putters from their guts or chests could have a detrimental impact on their enjoyment of the game, Bishop said.
"Let’s face it," he continued, "when people are playing better, they play more golf. Fundamentally and philosophically to the PGA of America, it’s disappointing that anything would happen right now in the sport of golf that would have any potential negative impact on enjoyment and number of rounds played."
As for the touring pros’ organizations, the LPGA will follow the 90-day comment period with great interest and "will continue to discuss this proposed change with our players and provide our input and thoughts directly to the USGA and R&A," according to a statement from chief communications officer Kraig Kann.
The PGA Tour will discuss the issue at the next player meeting in January.
"As with any rule change, we will go through the process of evaluating potential impact to all our constituents," the tour said in a statement.
Davis Love III, a tour policy board member who has tinkered with a belly putter from time to time, came down firmly against the proposed ban.
"I think this proposal will create more diversion and controversy...and be a distraction to the pro game which is in a great place and take some fun away from the amateurs," Love said in a statement to Golf Channel.