Time to drop an anchor on putting debate

2013 08 Anchoring Ban
The decision by the R&A and USGA to ban anchored putting was hardly a surprise. You got the feeling that neither organisation was going to put its name to a proposal to change the rules and not see it through. The 90-day 'grace' period? Probably little more than an attempt to appear publicly as though they were prepared to consider letting the practice continue, even if privately they had already made their decision.

Was it the right decision to ban anchoring? The entire golf industry - players, fans, brands and tours - seem divided. The reality, though, is that it doesn't really matter what anyone thinks anymore. All that matters is that the decision has been made, carried, ratified, whatever you want to call it and that, from January 1, 2016, anyone caught anchoring will be breaking the most important thing in the game: its rules.

For that reason, the PGA Tour and PGA of America would be well advised to end their ongoing resistance to the decision. Whilst their commitment to the feelings of their respective members is to be commended, they need to understand and accept that it is in nobody's best interests for them to go to war with the game's two ruling bodies.
The rules of the game are sacrosanct. They are unambiguous, uncompromising and unequivocal - just like all good rules should be.

For example, the suggestion that the PGA Tour might invoke a local rule to allow its 'anchorers' to continue doing so is a real concern. Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, responded to the possibility, saying: "It wouldn't be a Rule of Golf, because the governing bodies have decided what's going to happen with the rules of the game and we think that's what's going to stick."

That's what the PGA Tour and PGA of America - as well as anyone else offended by the decision - need to accept, no matter how reluctantly. They've lost the battle but that's no reason to start a war. The rules of the game, after all, are sacrosanct. They are unambiguous, uncompromising and unequivocal - just like all good rules should be.

You don't need to like them. You don't even need to agree with them. But you do have to stick to them. If you don't, you're the one thing no golfer wants to be: a cheat.

No organisation should be bigger than the rules and the rulemakers, regardless of their financial clout, stature or perceived importance, and drawing the process out any longer than is necessary could severely damage the game and undo so much of the good work that has been done to improve its image problem.

After all, who wants to be involved in a sport where the biggest organisations seem hell-bent on waging a power war?

The decision has been made and, rightly or wrongly, anchoring is on the way out. Now, for the good of the game, can we all just move on?

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