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Golf Equipment

Coming to Grips With Anchoring

Continued (page 3 of 3)

Retailers, however, indicate they might have difficulty moving inventory. "At their peak last spring 30 percent of our putter sales were either mid or long length," said Sven Kessler, VP of retail sales for Edwin Watts. "That number has dropped substantially since the rumor surfaced this summer [that anchoring might be banned], and we will have trouble selling existing long putters with customers knowing [that method] will not conform in a few years."

Davis acknowledges such difficulties but still believes the rule change is the right thing for the future of the game. "We understand the other side," he said of the possibility of pushback, even lawsuits. "We hate to think that it would get to that point, but we're going to do what we think is right for the game, and if we have to get involved in litigation, we will.

Webb Simpson

"If we don't do what we think is right just for fear of a lawsuit, then shame on us," Davis said. "We shouldn't be in the governance business then."

But Davis isn't adopting an aggressive stance. He knows there will be some initial difficulties, and he is sensitive to any negative reaction the proposal might receive.

"It's a hard issue short-term," he said. "We understand the other side, we don't want to hurt golfers, we don't want to hurt the game, but we just want to clarify what the game should be, and we feel this is the right thing to do and we're passionate about it."

WHAT'S NEXT?

The USGA and R&A's proposal to prohibit anchored strokes contains a three-month feedback period in which players, manufacturers, golf associations, the pro tours and even everyday golfers can offer their thoughts. This period, however, is more than a mere courtesy. In fact, two of the more notable rules proposals involving equipment since the start of the new millennium have been modified during such a period. In December 2001 the USGA proposed a 380cc limit on clubhead volume but changed it to 460cc in January 2002 after manufacturers voiced concerns. Similarly, during the comment period in 2007 for the so-called groove rule, the edge radius requirement was altered, making it slightly more generous, again to the benefit of manufacturers. Whether anything in the current anchoring proposal -- or its implementation date -- will be modified remains to be seen.

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July 28, 2014

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