Finchem Confirms PGA Tour Opposition to Anchored Putter Ban

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem told the public Sunday that his organization sent a letter to the USGA and R&A last week expressing its opposition to a proposed ban of anchored putting strokes by golf's ruling bodies. The letter met the February 28 deadline for a comment period by golf's major associations.

"We're very supportive of the USGA and hold them in high regard," Finchem said during the NBC broadcast of the championship match of the WGC- Match Play Championship at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain near Tucson, Ariz.

That said, Finchem added, "Unless you have a compelling reason to change, you shouldn't." He noted there are negatives to banning a club that a generation of players has used legally.

"We'll follow the USGA rules provided we retain the right to differ," Finchem said. He also didn't want to speculate on the future and the possibility of bifurcation, whereby separate rules are made for higher-echelon players and regular amateurs. "We're hoping the USGA changes their mind so we won't have to go through this again."

Finchem said that 13 of the 15 players on the PGA Tour's Player Advisory Council conference oppose the ban, adding that, "In the last few months, there's been a significant shift (in Tour players' opinions). Understanding the impact on amateurs, (the Player Advisory Council) has changed their minds . . . If players are saying, there's no upside and there's a downside, why are we doing it?"

Statistics have shown there's no competitive advantage using putters that are anchored to the body. In late November 2012, however, golf's two ruling bodies - the USGA and R&A - announced the proposed rule change that would be implemented in 2016, depending on how the reactions to the ban pan out.

A recent poll by the PGA of America, which represents 27,000 club pros nationwide, found that 65 percent of the members are against the ban.

The National Golf Course Owners Association, which has 258 golf courses and 1,900 course owners on its membership rolls, also sent a recent letter last week to USGA executive director Mike Davis. Signed by CEO Michael Hughes, the NCGOA wrote that a ban on the popular clubs would have a "negative impact on participation in the game of golf now and in the future,"

According to Finchem, 20 percent of amateur golfers use anchored putters. He noted that the USGA had a chance to ban the clubs when they first appeared in 1975, but opted not to.