COMMENTARY | The PGA Tour's Policy Board announced on Monday, July 1 that the Tour would accept the United States Golf Association (USGA) and Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews' (R&A) ban on anchored strokes in all competitions effective Jan. 1, 2016.
If all that sounded a bit rigid and political, it should have. After all, getting a new rule accepted and incorporated into the Rules of Golf can be just as difficult as making a bill become a law.
The road to adoption of 14-1b was a long and arduous one for those in favor of implementing the rule as well as for those standing firm in fighting it. In playing both sides, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has come out as one of the few unscathed by the process.
A lawyer by trade and the owner of a political science degree from the University of Richmond, Finchem has been hard-wired with a political and analytical brain that allows him to see the forest from amongst the trees.
With the proposed ban on anchoring set forth by the USGA and R&A in late November of 2012, the ruling bodies opened up a 90-day comment period in which concerns over the implementation of 14-1b would be heard and considered.
The PGA Tour, by way of Finchem joining the NBC broadcast of the World Golf Championship - Accenture Match Play Championship in May, announced their opposition to the proposed ban. In essence, the statement was a show of good faith for the estimated 18-percent of PGA Tour players who anchor their putter.
However, Finchem's statement was not a definitive line in the sand. He skirted that line as such: "They've asked us to give our comments. All we're doing at this point is saying this is our opinion," he said.
Opinions change. Finchem knows that. Finchem also knows that 18-percent is nowhere near a majority, nor will a majority of that portion boycott or change professions due to the inclusion of Rule 14-1b.
By coming out in opposition of the ban originally, Finchem stood by his guys, giving them a bigger, more respected dog in the fight. When the USGA and R&A brought an even bigger dog - one that has governed the game for multiple centuries - Finchem had no choice but to acquiesce.
"He tried," the anchoring elite would think. "There was no stopping the rolling stone that is Rule 14-1b."
Finchem saw the end game of the proposed anchoring ban from the outset. The comment period was merely a formality. Once proposed, the ruling bodies had already decided upon the game's need for the rule change. No amount of posturing or dissention from such a small portion of the playing public was going to change their minds.
Finchem knew that. And he fought the good fight for his men. No anchorer left behind.
So when the proposed ban became the imminent ban on May 21, Finchem had to cut his losses and do what was best for the future of the Tour in the long-term, which meant going along with the ruling bodies.
But, then again, he already knew that.
Chris Chaney is a Cincinnati, Ohio-based sportswriter. He has written for multiple outlets including WrongFairway.com, Hoopville.com, The Cincinnati (OH) Enquirer and The Clermont (OH) Sun.
Follow him on Twitter @Wrong_Fairway.
- Sports & Recreation
- PGA Tour
- Tim Finchem