Opposition Growing Against Anchored Putter Ban

It appears that three of golf's major associations - the PGA Tour, PGA of America and National Golf Course Owners Association - are mounting opposition to the ban on anchored putters recently proposed by the United States Golf Association and R&A.

According to Alex Miceli of Golfweek, more than 80 percent of participants in a recent Player Advisory Council conference call said they were opposed to the proposed ban. The council is drafting a letter to be delivered to the USGA before the 90-day comment period on the rules change ends February 28.

One of the council members, PGA Tour veteran Steve Stricker, is clearly against the ban. "My opinion and a lot of players' opinions changed because the ban wouldn't be just for us but for everybody who plays the game," Stricker told Golfweek's Jeff Rude.

In addition to affecting the touring pros and everyday golfers, Stricker noted that there's no hard evidence that anchoring a putter against the body provides an unfair advantage over traditional swings. "We're at a point in time in the game of golf that we're trying to keep players, lure players into playing the game," Stricker told Rude.

"A majority of the players feel that it only puts a negative spin on that, maybe detracts the local guy, the club member, the public player, whoever, from playing at times. And this rule has been good for 30 years."

In addition to the PGA Tour, the PGA of America - which represents 27,000 club pros nationwide - is also formulating a letter against the ban. Last fall when the proscription was announced, Ted Bishop, the president of the PGA of America, said his group conducted a poll of its members. Bishop noted that 63 percent of the 4,228 responses in the survey were "No" to the possibility of a ban on anchored putters.

Meanwhile, the NGCOA, which has 258 golf courses and 1,900 course owners on its membership rolls, said it sent a letter to the USGA executive director Mike Davis earlier in February. 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 Miceli.

There is still a possibility that the anchored-putter ban could be part of a bifurcated effort, whereby the clubs are not allowed by touring professionals and top amateurs but can be used by everyday golfers. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, however, has come out saying that he'd prefer that any rule changes apply to all golfers.

The USGA and R&A announced in late November it would be pursuing the ban, with the rule change - if approved - taking effect in 2016.