By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem spent the bulk of his press conference on Wednesday at the Farmers Insurance Open discussing the ban on anchored strokes proposed by the USGA and R&A.
Finchem was in California to attend Tuesday night's mandatory player meeting where Mike Davis, the executive director of the USGA, talked about the proposed new rule. According to the commissioner, the meeting was the beginning of a process where the TOUR will collect input and with consideration from the policy board, formulate a response.
Here are some highlights of the press conference.
On whether there are scenarios where the TOUR would not adopt the rule: "Technically there is that possibility. However, it certainly wouldn't be our objective. Our objective is to follow the rules and keep the rules together."
On the need to proceed cautiously: "If the governing bodies had said in 1965, like they did after Sam Snead came out and putted croquet style and a week later they changed the rule or whatever it was, if they had said, you know, this isn't consistent with historically the way you swing a club, so we're not going to allow it, nobody would have blinked an eye. ... But 40 years later, and the amount of play there is with that method, amateur and professional, it does affect a lot of people. So it's a very different kind of issue, and it stirs a lot of strong feelings. So consequently, it's a difficult situation.'
On whether the TOUR might implement the ban sooner than the proposed target of 2016: "Once you get past the question of the rule change, there is going to be a rule change; then you get into some of the details. One of which is the timing, and that's certainly a matter of discussion because, here again, on the one hand, if you're presenting the sport, you probably, my view would be to move it quicker, if it's going to happen because it continues to be a distraction if you don't. You have players on television, in front of galleries, playing with a method that has been outlawed, even though the enforcement date is later. That's in and of itself the makings of a distraction. On the other hand, if you're a player who has grown up using that method, your livelihood depends on it, you probably are inclined to not want it to go into effect for a period of time. Here again, the issue is damned if you do, damned if you don't to some extent, so it needs to be thought through carefully."
On whether there is data to suggest anchored strokes provide a competitive advantage: "Virtually every player on the PGA TOUR at some point has spent time with anchoring method. Some of them practice with anchoring method because it helps their stroke. They will tell you, it is a skill in of itself as putting as a whole. It's a different game. We all know there are two games in golf, full swing and putting. That within putting, anchoring, the anchoring method is a skill unto itself. It takes time, energy, effort, over a long period of time to develop that skill. But it doesn't necessarily give you a competitive advantage against the player who isn't using the method."
On potential lawsuits over the ban: "I haven't heard any specifics about any particular player or conceivably, I suppose, a manufacturer filing lawsuit, and I don't really worry about that kind of stuff. Lawsuits come and go and you have to deal with them, and they're painful and expensive, but I just don't know about that. I think we're early in the process though, so, that could change."