Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (Sports Network) - The PGA Tour Policy Board announced on Monday that it will go along with Rule 14-1b and make anchored putters illegal on tour.
At the same time, the Board and the PGA of America called on the USGA to extend the period amateurs can use anchored putters beyond January 1, 2016, the date which the ban is scheduled to take effect.
PGA Tour events are conducted using USGA rules, but the tour reserves the right to make modifications as needed.
"In making its decision, the Policy Board recognized that there are still varying opinions among our membership, but ultimately concluded that while it is an important issue, a ban on anchored strokes would not fundamentally affect a strong presentation of our competitions or the overall success of the PGA Tour," said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem in a statement. "The Board also was of the opinion that having a single set of rules on acceptable strokes applicable to all professional competitions worldwide was desirable and would avoid confusion."
In late November, the R&A and the USGA announced that "long putters and belly putters would not be banned, just the act of anchoring any club against a player's body during a shot."
The tour originally was opposed to the rule, but the governing bodies announced in May that the rule would take effect in 2016, the next time the rules of golf are officially published.
Like the groove rules for clubs, the Policy Board, "Continues to believe that extending the time period the ban would go into effect for amateurs would be beneficial for golf participation and the overall health of the game."
A new rule for groove configuration passed in 2008, but was not applied for elite play until 2010. That same rule doesn't do into effect until 2024 for recreational play.
"Although the Board has elected to follow the USGA in this case at the elite level, it continues to be mindful of its responsibility to review future rule changes that might be adopted by the USGA in order to determine whether they should apply to PGA Tour competitions," Finchem said. "It is not inconceivable that there may come a time in the future when the Policy Board determines that a rule adopted by the USGA, including in the area of equipment, may not be in the best interests of the PGA TOUR and that a local rule eliminating or modifying such a USGA rule may be appropriate.
"Having said that, we have been assured by the USGA that as we move forward we will have an open and effective communication process on a number of levels with the decision makers at the USGA. Importantly, this will include a direct communication between the Commissioner's Office of the PGA Tour and the USGA Executive Committee. Such a process will ensure that our position is fully and carefully considered and addressed in future rule making."
The PGA of America echoed the sentiments of the PGA Tour, agreeing to adopt the ban, while recommending a delay of its implementation at the amateur level.
"We had a very spirited debate and discussion among our Board members at the June meeting," said PGA president Ted Bishop. "The PGA of America respects the USGA as the Rules-governing body in the United States. We firmly and consistently stated our position throughout the open comment period, and while we agree to implement Rule 14-1b, we continue to feel strongly that the amateur player needs a longer period of adjustment to this Rule.
"The PGA of America hopes that in the future, the Rules-making process will be more open and transparent, as well as interactive, when it comes to how changes in the Rules of Golf can possibly impact participation in the game."