Monty warns PGA Tour to think twice about anchor ban opposition

Colin Montgomerie
Getty Images
Colin Montgomerie was "positively aghast" at the idea that the PGA Tour might ignore the proposed anchor ban, according to PA Sport.

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Monday, February 25, 2013 | 10:19 p.m.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem provoked quite a bit of reaction on Sunday when he announced that the tour might not go along with the ban on anchored putting strokes being advocated by the USGA and R&A.

European Tour stalwart Colin Montgomerie was "positively aghast" at the idea that the PGA Tour might ignore the proposed anchor ban, according to the PA Sport newswire in England.

"The R&A and USGA have served the game of golf for a long, long time and long may that continue," Montgomerie said on Sky Sports. "This has opened up a whole new can of worms. It's a very dangerous situation we are getting ourselves into and I do hope they can sort this out very, very quickly.

"I thought, as we all did, that the rules of golf were set by the R&A and the USGA. Tim Finchem has obviously thought otherwise," he added. "Whether the European Tour think that or not has to be debated, too."

The European Tour, by the way, came out in support of the proposed ban last November, with Chief Executive George O'Grady saying that "I would urge the Tour to follow the rules as laid down by the governing bodies. The view of our leading members and our players must be listened to, but I haven't heard one of our members want to break away at the moment. They want to be connected to the game."

That's how Monty feels, too.

"I think we should go with what the R&A and USGA feel. Whether the long putter should have been banned 20 years ago or not, it should be banned now," he said. "We should abide by that. To now go against that and say 'my players aren't going to go by that,' then what happens when you come to USGA events or the British Open?

"Does that mean you have to use a different club? Does that mean other rules can change as well?," he asked. "We want to play as one under the same rules."



The USGA and R&A did not have to initiate the current showdown about putter anchoring. The practice has been going on for 40 years. Why now? The reason they give - fear that long putters would become too popular or prevalent and that they confer an advantage - is not born out by any conclusive facts. Putting is very individualized and the options in terms of putting styles and equipment choice for players are legion. Long putters are used by some players most often because of the yips or some physical problem but they will always constitute a modest proportion of all golfers. So, again, why now? Let me suggest that the big problem is that there is such an element of arbitrariness to the R&A and the USGA's proposed ruling. Why all of a sudden did this become a priority ahead of much more important matters? Was it because Tiger Woods looked down his nose at long putters and the ruling bodies overreacted because of who he is? Why not fix something that matters? What about the billions that have been spent around the world on lengthening golf courses because players hit the golfball so much further than before. Isn't this a bigger priority? Course lengthening has cost golf a horrendous amount of money and guess who pays the resulting higher green fees? Anchoring the putter cannot remotely approach the amount of harm that golf ball technology has caused to the game of golf. And yet the ruling bodies have done little or nothing about it. This is evidence of arbitrariness in the R&A and USGA. Arbitrariness is fatal to the credibility of any rules-based system, regardless of how much Colin Montgomerie touts them. Could it be that another possible reason for the anchoring ruling is the psychology of rule-making, itself? Stuffy people with an anal preoccupation with the minutiae of golf getting overly enthusiastic? Golf has got to be one of the worst sports for stuffy, often silly little rules that ceased to make sense long ago. It is also one of the few sports where the rule book and associated precedents make a small library in size and complexity. One conclusion? Ruling bodies sometimes can come to love rules as much as they profess to love the game. They forget that golf is in a downturn and must be seen as fun by a new, younger demographic in order to survive. In summary, too many rules, arbitrariness and unfairness - all these things erode the credibility of the system being run by the R&A and USGA. Now golf's governing bodies are starting to reap what they have sown. Good! Maybe things will improve for the game and its practitioners.