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Teeing Off: Will the PGA Tour’s anchoring response force the USGA’s hand?

Jay Busbee
Devil Ball Golf

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PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem. (Getty Images)

Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Shane Bacon and national columnist Jay Busbee take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by hitting us on Twitter at@shanebacon and @jaybusbee. Today, it's anchors aweigh!

Busbee: So we had Match Play this weekend, and what should have been one of the best non-major weekends of the year short-circuited twice: once when the big dogs tapped out early, and another time when the PGA Tour snagged headlines by announcing that it's not in favor of a ban on anchoring putters. Firmly anchoring my laptop against my wrists, I ask you, sir: what are your thoughts on the Tour's action?

Bacon: Honestly, I simply see this as getting ugly. The PGA Tour is going against the governing bodies on a ruling that would basically change the entire game in the future, mostly because some of their youngest talents are using what is supposed to be nixed (look at Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley as recent major winners that fit this mold, not to mention how the long-putter brought sexy back for Adam Scott). It's a really strange situation because Tim Finchem obviously wants to protect his players, and his product, and is basically asking the USGA to provide data that shows that anchoring is an unfair advantage. I'm not sure how the USGA will respond, but would you start pinpointing player stats back at the PGA Tour if you were the USGA?

Busbee: That seems like it'd be playing into the Tour's hands, because statistics can be massaged to show that anchoring is an advantage, an unfair advantage, and is responsible for everything from climate change to the rise of Justin Bieber. The USGA has been charged with governing the rules of the game, and it's my opinion that they'll take the Augusta National approach: this is going to happen because we say this is going to happen. That said, whose side are you on?

Bacon: I hope the USGA is that heavy-handed with this. They can't backdown at this point, so no matter what the PGA Tour says they're just going to keep pushing their agenda, and honestly, I'm behind them. So might find a ban on anchoring ridiculous, but I think if they really think it hurts the integrity of the game (like countless people have said) then they need to stick to their guns and shoot down whatever the PGA, or whomever, tosses at them. It isn't like the USGA came up with this out of thin air, right?

Busbee: It's part of the ongoing trend of "it's different, which means change, and change is bad." I'm not at all convinced that anchoring is a detriment to the game, and the USGA's attempts to demonize the practice are leading to guys like Keegan Bradley getting called "cheater" on the course. That's inexcusable. The game changes as equipment changes; this, to me, is a case where the USGA can gracefully agree to study the issue, then quietly (in the middle of winter sometime) announce that they won't be pursuing a ban. What's your take on the use of anchoring in general?

Bacon: I've never done it and probably never will use it mostly because I'm not vying for a Masters jacket and think it's goofy but I get your point. If they wanted to outlaw it they should have immediately. Waiting this long just makes it tougher for guys still anchoring.

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