PGA Tour not likely to deviate from anchor ruling

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LA QUINTA, Calif. – The early buzz around PGA West, site of this week’s final stage of Q-School, had little to do with PGA Tour cards and the escalating pressure of the six-round Fall Classic. Instead it was the use of long putters, and specifically anchoring, that was a hot topic on a cold morning.

The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews announced early Wednesday a plan to ban anchoring. Although the rule still must be approved next spring and wouldn’t go into effect until January 2016 the growing number of Tour types who anchor the club had to start thinking about the future.

Similarly, the Tour has decisions to make over the next few months. Some at Q-School suggested the circuit ignore the potential new rule and enact “local rules” that would allow the use of long putters and anchoring, effectively bringing bifurcation to the game. But that option didn’t seem likely given the circuit’s historical reluctance to split with the game’s rules makers.

“(Tour commissioner Tim Finchem) has always been pretty adamant to not have the PGA Tour have their own set of rules,” said Tom Pernice Jr., a former member of the Tour’s Players Advisory Council. “He wants to work with the USGA and R&A to have everyone on the same set of rules so I would be surprised to have that happen.”

It does seem likely the Tour would deviate from the USGA and R&A’s schedule, however, if the new rule is adopted. Because of the transition to a split-calendar schedule beginning in 2013 the first year of the potential new rule would come into effect some five or six events into the 2015-16 season. One player at Q-School suggested this would probably prompt the Tour to enact the rule early.

“That’s going to be part of the overall process that we’re going to review,” said Ty Votaw, the Tour’s executive vice president of communication and international affairs.

However the Tour proceeds, the topic is sure to create concerns and comments from the rank-and-file until the next player meeting, which will be held at next year’s Farmers Insurance Open in late January.