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Golf Associations Debate Stricter Rules

Two associations that represent the sport find themselves on opposite sides of a controversy over its rules.

Golf is one of those sports where, if you’re passionate about it, you’re really passionate.

That’s why the phrase “anchored putting” may not mean much to the average person, but to golfers, it can provoke heavy debate—and two golf-related groups are on opposite ends of this one. More details:

We think this is integral to the traditions of the game.

The issue at hand

In recent years, the United States Golf Association (USGA) has considered proposing rules that would limit the distance a golf ball could travel on a course.

Separately, the USGA has proposed another rule that would ban the process of anchored putting. The putting style, which has been used by golf pros for years, involves using your body to control the direction of the putter.

“We believe a player should hold the club away from his body and swing it freely, whether it’s a putt, a chip, a pitch, a bunker shot, an iron shot, a recovery shot, or a shot played from the teeing ground,” the USGA’s Mike Davis said regarding the rules. “We think this is integral to the traditions of the game.”

The proposed ban reflects a purist’s take on the game, one that players such as Tiger Woods support.

If you do anything that’s going to cause the rank-and-file amateur player to not hit the ball as far, there’s no way you’re going to enhance their enjoyment of the game.

The PGA’s not feeling it

But PGA of America, the league in which Woods made his name, thinks otherwise.

The group has expressed frustration over the proposed rules, suggesting that they would run counter to the organization’s main goal—encouraging the sport’s growth.

Regarding proposed limits on ball travel, PGA President Ted Bishop had tough words.

“If you do anything that’s going to cause the rank-and-file amateur player to not hit the ball as far, there’s no way you’re going to enhance their enjoyment of the game,” he said in a news conference.

As for anchored putting, that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.

Some notable players like Woods support the anchored putting ban, though many recent champions have used anchored putting, and nearly 63 percent of current players oppose the ban.

The PGA is particularly strident on that issue, siding with most players and saying in a statement that the USGA needs “to seriously consider the impact this proposed ban may have on people’s enjoyment of the game and the overall growth of the game.”

Could the USGA’s efforts to please purists and the PGA’s efforts to grow the sport find common ground? Let us know what you think.

(Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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