Golf Bodies Review Comments to Proposed Anchored Putter Ban

Golf’s rule-makers said today they are reviewing responses to the proposed ban on anchored putting strokes and called it a “polarizing issue.”

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the U.S. Golf Association said on Nov. 28 that they wanted to outlaw a stroke in which the player’s putter rests against the body to create a pendulum-like swing. A 90-day period in which parties could submit comments to the two golf governing bodies on the issue ended yesterday.

“Anchoring has been a polarizing issue in our sport and despite having weighed the matter thoroughly before making the proposal, we believed it was important to give stakeholders in the game the opportunity to air their views,” a statement from the St. Andrews, Scotland-based R&A read. “Our consultation period has generated a number of considered responses which have continued to arrive right up to the deadline. We appreciate those responses and will take time to review and evaluate them.”

The USGA called the comment period “very constructive” in a separate statement.

“The discussion has been informative and serves as a strong reminder of just how passionate golfers are about the game -- no matter their position on this specific issue,” the Far Hill, New Jersey-based body said. “As we have throughout this process, we will continue to confer with the R&A in our work to reach a final resolution in this matter.”

Woods’s Opposition

Many of golf’s top players, including 14-time major tournament winner Tiger Woods, are among those opposed to the use of anchored putters.

“I still feel that all 14 clubs should be swung,” Woods told reporters on Feb. 27 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where his is playing in the Honda Classic. “That hasn’t changed at all.”

The U.S. PGA Tour said on Feb. 24 that it opposed the planned ban, yielding the possibility that events on the sport’s richest circuit may eventually have different rules concerning putting. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said his group’s Player Advisory Council researched the issue and informed the USGA and R&A that a ban wouldn’t be in the best interest of golf or the Tour.

“We note that this matter has proved particularly sensitive in the United States, while the proposed rule change has been received more favorably across the international golfing community,” the R&A’s statement read. “As we have throughout this process, we will work closely with the USGA in moving toward a final resolution.”

McIlroy Call

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who used a traditional putting stroke to win the PGA Championship in August and the 2011 U.S. Open, said the issue isn’t good for the game.

“I think we all need to be on one side or the other,” McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, told reporters on Feb. 27. “It’s just a bit of a mess.”

Players using an anchored putting stroke have won three of golf’s last five major tournaments. While the clubs -- including long-handled and so-called belly putters -- wouldn’t be banned, their intended method of use would be under the rule proposed to take effect in 2016.

The USGA sets the rules for the U.S. and Mexico, while the R&A covers the rest of the golf world.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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