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PGA president: 'Bifurcation seems destined' if anchoring banned

PGA of America
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Tom Pernice Jr. hits from a waste bunker during the final round of the Verizon Heritage Classic at the Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina on April 15, 2007 Photo by Michael Cohen/  - 

While the PGA Tour has been the most vocal opponent to the ban on anchoring recently proposed by the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient, the PGA of America also took time this week to reaffirm its dissenting stance. 

Following the annual PGA Conference of Leaders earlier this week, the group's president, Ted Bishop, penned a response column, noting that anchoring was a topic that dominated conversation.

'We feel the USGA and R&A have underestimated the impact and ramifications that Rule 14-1b will have on the overall state of the game. It has become one of the most divisive issues that modern-day golf has seen,' Bishop wrote. 'The PGA of America feels that there is no logical reason to proceed with Rule 14-1b.'

Bishop's response also noted the opinion of the PGA of Canada, which recently came out against the anchoring ban, citing a February survey of members in which 64 percent of its respondents were against the proposed rule change. While golf in the U.S. remains under the jurisdiction of the USGA, golf in Canada is governed by the R&A.

One of the key arguments for those against the proposed ban remains the impact on golf at the recreational level, a point that Bishop emphasized in his response.

'We have serious concerns on how the ban on anchoring could affect the enjoyment of the game by our amateur customers,' he explained. 'Over the past few months, I have received dozens of letters from concerned amateurs ... these people are discouraged and frustrated that the anchoring ban will be imposed after they adopted a previously legal method of putting. Most indicate they will play less golf or quit. The game cannot afford this.'

Noting the various influences exerted upon PGA members at the club level, Bishop shared a view that a ban on anchoring will inevitably lead to professionals and amateurs operating under two different sets of rules.

'There was discussion about the politics and inconsistency that will surface around the country if PGA professionals are mandated by their boards, men's and women's associations, or players to allow anchoring for the enjoyment of recreational amateurs,' Bishop continued. 'Bifurcation seems destined if Rule 14-1b is implemented.'