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Club manufacturers hit back over putting ban

May 22, 2013

Golf club makers Ping and Cobra Puma Golf hit back on Tuesday at a rules change that will ban the anchoring of putters.

The ban, announced on Tuesday, will take effect on January 1, 2016. It does not apply to equipment and golfers will be able to use belly and broomstick putters. They will not, however, be allowed to anchor the club against their body for their putting stroke.

Ping chairman John Solheim and Bob Philion, head of Cobra Golf, had lined up with the U.S. PGA Tour and the PGA of America in opposing the ban, which golf's rules makers decided was needed to preserve the free swing of the club traditional to the game.

"Golf lost today," Cobra president Philion said in a statement. "This is not the direction we should be going; it will only continue to alienate people from golf.

"Cobra Puma Golf has been stressing the importance of game enjoyment since we formed in 2010; game enjoyment is how we are going to bring people back to golf. This decision is a giant leap back on that front."

Solheim also said he did not believe the ban was good for growing the game.

"I appreciate this was an open process," Solheim said. "I also recognize the importance of a single rule book. However, I believe the rulemaking bodies need to better address how we need to make the game more welcoming. I will continue to focus my efforts on that goal."

Nike said the controversial decision by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient (R&A) on a product that has legitimately been in play for many years will have an impact on both manufacturers and golfers.

"Despite this, Nike always manages to adapt to the changes and deliver innovative products within the redefined rules. The USGA and the R&A have the right to make these changes for competitive play," the company said in a statement.

"Beyond this decision, we believe that the best interests of the sport of golf are better served by focusing on providing experiences that inspire golfers to play more...better connecting to the golfer in a world where alternative recreational choices are increasing."

USGA officials said they estimated that only two to four percent of golfers worldwide used extra long putters, although four of the last six major championships have been won by players anchoring their long putters.

The PGA Tour and the PGA of America both said they would open high level discussions to decide their position on the ban, leaving the possibility they could decide to operate by their own rules.

The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) said it would play by the official rules and honor the ban.

Cobra chief Philion said he hoped the PGA Tour would consider using their own rules, in what has been referred to as bifurcation.

"With this decision, bifurcation needs to be front and center in golf's conversations and we should be focusing on adapting the rules and the game to be inclusive and fun," said Philion.







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