PGA Tour to adopt USGA ban on anchored putting

Eileen Blass-USA TODAY

The PGA Tour reverses itself and says it will comply with the USGA’s ban on anchored putting but calls for a bifurcation of the rules in allowing amateurs more time to adopt the new rule.

The PGA Tour will adopt the USGA’s ban on anchored putting strokes as of Jan. 1, 2016, the tour’s policy board announced Monday.

The new Rule 14-1b will apply to tour events as of the date mandated by golf’s governors, the USGA and R&A, though the tour board recommended that amateurs have more time to comply with the regulation.

“In making its decision, the Policy Board recognized that there are still varying opinions among our membership, but ultimately concluded that while it is an important issue, a ban on anchored strokes would not fundamentally affect a strong presentation of our competitions or the overall success of the PGA Tour,” commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement ahead of this week's Greenbrier Classic. “The Board also was of the opinion that having a single set of rules on acceptable strokes applicable to all professional competitions worldwide was desirable and would avoid confusion.”

The regulators announced the proposed ban on anchored strokes last November and after a 90-day comment period pronounced in May that the prohibition would take effect at the start of the 2016 season -- over strong objections by Finchem and PGA of America president Ted Bishop.

Finchem, who had an apparent change of heart, said in February that his players “did not think that banning anchoring was in the best interests of golf or the PGA Tour.”

In arguing for an extension for amateurs, the board stated that the USGA provided non-professionals with more time to comply with the groove change edict in 2008 and, essentially, pleaded for a separate set of rules for tour players and everyone else.

“The Policy Board continues to believe that extending the time period the ban would go into effect for amateurs would be beneficial for golf participation and the overall health of the game,” Finchem said Monday.

The PGA of America last week decided to adopt the USGA anchoring rule as well.

Exactly when the tour will implement the proscription could get dicey for players like Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Webb Simpson, and Keegan Bradley -- winners of four of the last seven majors. The tour’s split calendar, instituted this season, would seem to indicate that players employing chest and belly bats would have until the 2015-2016 season was underway to switch putters.

Scott, the reigning Masters champ, is one of nine golfers who have enlisted the services of Boston attorney Harry Manion in the event they decide to sue the USGA over the ban. Manion did not immediately reply to our request for comment on Monday

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