South Africa’s Tim Clark has said that he is among “a fair number” of players taking legal advice over the ban on anchored putters.
The R&A and USGA confirmed yesterday that the ban will come into effect from January 1, 2016, with Rule 14-1b approved after consideration of comments and suggestions made during the 90-day consultation process.
Legal action from players who use anchored strokes had long been mooted – four of the last six majors have been won by players with long or belly putters – and Clark told reporters at the Crowne Plaza Invitational: “We do have legal counsel.
“We’re going to explore our options. We’re not going to just roll over and accept this.”
R&A chief executive Peter Dawson admitted yesterday to being concerned that players could file lawsuits.
“I very much hope not,” he said. “I don’t think lawsuits will be on particularly strong ground.
“We are not so sure of ourselves that you can always be sure you’re going to be right, but we have certainly done our homework on this one, far more than anything else in my time at the R&A.”
Clark, who has used the anchored putting technique since college, said “a fair number” of other players were exploring their legal options and felt the consultation period was “all smoke and mirrors.”
The PGA Tour and PGA of America voiced their opposition to the ban when it was proposed, with the PGA Tour stating yesterday: “We will now begin our process to ascertain whether the various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions and, if so, examine the process for implementation.
“In this regard, over the next month we will engage in discussions with our Player Advisory Council and Policy Board members. We will announce our position regarding the application of Rule 14-1b to our competitions upon conclusion of our process and we will have no further comment on the matter until that time.”
American Webb Simpson, who won the US Open last year with an anchored putter, feels players should have more input into the rules, but also wrote on Twitter: “What am I going to do? Well I always use short putter at home to make sure my set up is same.
“So I will keep practicing and see what the Tour says. I was going to maybe switch at some point anyways, whatever will make me better!”
Tim Clark with a long putter.
Ernie Els, who won the Open last year with a belly putter, was not surprised that some players are considering legal action.
“I’ve been using one for over a year and won a major with it, but some have been using it for 18-20 years,” Els said. “I think the PGA Tour will play ball, but it’s a huge issue and it’s guys livelihoods you are talking about.
“I used a short putter in a tournament earlier this year and will add it to the bag after the majors this year.
“They have made the decision and we have to go with the ruling bodies. They are looking out for the best interests of the game in the long run.”