MARANA, Ariz. —
Without any empirical evidence that an anchored stroke is easier, why ban it?
And after all these years, why now?
The faces in this discussion — and that’s all it is right now — are Keegan Bradley and Tim Clark, for vastly different reasons.
It was Bradley’s win at the PGA Championship that prompted serious talk about the future of anchored strokes. Bradley now is lumped in with three of the last five major champions using a belly putter, but he was the catalyst.
European Tour chief executive George O’Grady said the conversations between golf’s administrators and the governing bodies about the future of the long putters began last year at the Masters.
That was before Webb Simpson won the U.S. Open and Ernie Els won the British Open, which ramped up the attention.
As for Clark?
It was his dignified speech at Torrey Pines that led even the staunch opponents of long putters to look at them differently. More than one person in the room that night has described his presentation as a game-changer.
That much was reflected in the overwhelming support from the Player Advisory Council and player-directors on the tour’s policy board that the PGA Tour should oppose the USGA on this rule.
The tricky part is figuring out where this will lead.
The PGA Tour sent the USGA a letter last week spelling out its opposition to Rule 14-1(b), and the PGA of America and its 27,000 club pros are also against the ban.
One reason Finchem decided to speak about the letter — a small distraction during the final of the Match Play Championship — was his concern that the discussion was being portray as a showdown. Right now, it’s a matter of opinion.
If it becomes a showdown, high noon is not until the USGA and R&A decide whether to go ahead with the rule. And that decision won’t come until the spring.