Don't expect USGA, R&A to blink on anchoring
By James Achenbach, Golfweek
History says the primary responsibilities of the
two ruling bodies are to:
1.) make rules;
2.) conduct national championships.
There is nothing in the charter of either
organization about growing the
game or making golfers happy. Rulesmaking in
golf never has been a
Golfers who secure long putters against their
chests or stick belly putters
into their stomachs probably will be unhappy
when the final ruling is
The USGA and R&A carefully have staked out
their position and articulated
their proposal to golfers around the world.
There is no doubt how they feel
and what they believe is best for the long-
term health of the game.
Here in the United States, we pay too little
attention to the R&A. The two
ruling bodies have pledged to reach a mutual
conclusion on anchoring.
There will be no split decision. Thus it is
imperative to look closely at the
The notion of the R&A capitulating to pro-
anchoring advocates is
unthinkable to many international observers.
Over the decades, the R&A
never has been frightened by the specter of
criticism. For example, having
survived women’s liberation and several
generations of feminist rhetoric, the
R&A still limits its membership to males.
Much has been made of the public stance
adopted first by the PGA of
America and then by PGA Tour. Both
organizations oppose the anchoring
There is one thing wrong with this picture: It
doesn’t project a worldwide
view. Outside the United States, anchoring has
meager support. It is largely
viewed as an adulteration of the golf stroke.
Influential groups such as the
Sunshine Tour in South Africa and the PGA
European Tour have expressed
their unwavering support for the R&A.
For the record, the jurisdiction of the USGA
includes just two countries –
the United States and Mexico – while the
jurisdiction of the R&A
encompasses the rest of the world, including
at least part of every
continent on earth where golf is played
(Canada, in North America, is part
of the R&A's domain).
Those closely following the USGA in recent
months have noticed a flurry of
activity from the communications department.
The USGA has responded
with “thank you” messages to friends and foes
alike in the anchoring
It is a strategy designed to make all golfers
feel as if they are part of the
conversation. The USGA wants everyone to
believe it is listening. Knowing
USGA executive director Mike Davis, widely
viewed as one of the most
compassionate leaders in all of sports, the
USGA probably is listening.
This perception is exactly why Davis hired Joe
Goode as managing director
of communications. Goode is a member of the
senior management team
established by Davis, and he spent 15 years in
the cauldron of public
relations for Bank of America. After that, the
USGA must seem like a piece
Still, the odds are against the ruling bodies
changing their minds. They
might alter the manner or the time frame in
which the rules change takes
place, but somewhere down the road
anchoring probably will become a
disappearing part of golf history.
Here is one possible ending to the anchoring
scenario: The USGA and R&A
once again will thank everyone who submitted
comments. They will talk
about the family of golf. They will make it clear
we’re all in this together.
Then they will discuss the sanctity of the rules
– history has shown us that
the rules are the foundation of the game; we
cannot disturb that bedrock
without shaking and agitating the game itself.
Then it will be over. Except for the details and
the method of
implementation, anchoring will be done and
gone. And we will move on, as
we always do.