The golfing world must unite behind the new ban on the anchoring of putters from 2016 and avoid any unseemly legal disputes, according to Royal & Ancient (R&A) chief executive Peter Dawson.
The ban was announced by the game’s rule makers, the R&A and the US Golf Association, on Tuesday, and Dawson has implored the rest of the sport to fall in line behind the regulation.
The USPGA Tour and the PGA of America, who both emphatically oppose the rule, said they were against the ban and are planning to evaluate their positions.
“Whatever people’s views about anchored putting, they are made passionately with the best interests of the game at heart,” Dawson told a news conference at Wentworth ahead of this week’s European Tour flagship event, the PGA Championship.
“It’s true the best interests of the game would be served by this not being divisive, by people getting behind the decision the two governing bodies have made and helping each other get to 2016, when those who have had to make an adjustment to their game will have made that adjustment successfully,” he said.
“I have a great deal of faith in the essential goodwill of golfers everywhere and their willingness to get behind what the governing bodies have decided, so I’m very hopeful it won’t come to anything like that [legal action],” Dawson added.
The US’ Keegan Bradley, the 2011 USPGA champion, is against the ban and has previously suggested he might consider going to the courts.
Players anchoring long putters have won four of the last six major championships, including Australian Adam Scott at last month’s US Masters.
Opponents of the style have said it is not a true golf stroke and that stabilizing the putter against the body can give users an advantage to combat nerves.
Dawson said one of the reasons for the new rule was that youngsters are now being taught to adopt the anchoring approach.
“The increase in usage on tour, and reports of youngsters coming into the game and starting out with the anchored stroke, caused the subject to come into focus,” he said.
“We have seen some tour events where 26 percent of players were anchoring and that the reports of college coaches and coaches of children coming into the game were proposing this method,” he added.
“It was a concern to us, but this new rule will deal with that,” Dawson said.
If a player accidentally uses the anchored stroke from 2016, he or she will incur a two-stroke penalty for each occurrence in strokeplay and the loss of a hole in matchplay.