Tim Clark Vows to Fight Anchoring Ban
By Torleif Sorenson on 5/22/13
Back on January 30, we told you about South African golfer Tim Clark, one of the notable golfers who uses a long putter. Clark suffers from a genetic condition that prevents him from turning his wrists and forearms inward, necessitating use of the brookstick. Clark has already undergone two major surgeries, once each to his wrist and elbow, in an attempt to mitigate the defect.

Yesterday, the USGA and R&A announced the adoption of Rule 14-1b. While the rules does not ban the use of long putters, it does prohibit anchoring of those long putters. Since then, several news outlets, including the BBC, the Daily Express, and the UK Daily Mail, have been reporting that Clark is seeking legal counsel following the announcement yesterday:
"We do have legal counsel. We're going to explore our options. We're not going to just roll over and accept this."
In response, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson admitted concern over the threat of lawsuits, but said that they feel they are on solid legal 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."
Indeed, the current president of the USGA, Glen D. Nager, is a very experienced attorney who graduated from Stanford Law School and has accumulated significant experience in the areas of intellectual property, antitrust, employment, and government contracts. Mr. Nager has argued 13 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, while his time with the USGA includes two years as general counsel (2006-2008).

Nager is hardly the only USGA Executive Committee member who is capable of backing up the anchoring ban; the remainder of the committee includes four attorneys and six MBAs, along with an experienced commercial banker. The rules and equipment staff including a physicist, an accountant, and another MBA. It is reasonable to assume that the R&A have similar legal and business experience among their directorship.

While the debate is obviously emotional on both sides, the legal team Clark brings to the case might have an extremely difficult time overcoming the USGA's legal team and all the document preparation they have already done. Nager was quoted by Bloomberg News:
"In the event of any litigation, I can assure you of this, we have looked at this from a legal perspective as well and we feel confident of our position.

Anchoring creates potential advantages, such as making the stroke simpler and more repeatable, restricting the movement and rotation of the hands, arms and clubface, creating a fixed pivot point, and creating extra support and stability that may diminish the effects of nerves and pressure. We have heard and genuinely empathize with those who will need to adjust. But the understandable objections of these relative few cannot prevent adoption of a rule that will serve the best interests of the entire game going forward."

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[ comments ]
Werepuppie says:
IMHO there should be NO lawsuits allowed to contest the rules of a GAME.If you do not like it,then do not play.The courts should have no jurisdiction over the rules of any sport.
Next somebody will sue over why there are only three strikes allowed,but you have to have four balls to reach first base.5 hours ago
joe jones says:
Clark may not be the only one considering litigation. This could encourage others to join him. We will see soon if that will happen.Ernie Els has said he will live with the ruling but others have indicated that they are weighing their options. Mike Davis has suggested that they may have to include a handicap provision in the rule. If Clark is given dispensation under that clause it will be bifurcation as that word is interpreted and open up a pan of worms. The USGA doesn't want to revisit the Casey Martin lawsuit.This could get uglier than it already is.
bducharm says:
I believe this WILL get WAY uglier! I cannot imagine guys like Clark, Bradley, etc. allowing this to go away quietly. I agree with the players BTW.
bkuehn1952 says:
My guess is that any provision for an accommodation for disability would be directed toward someone with one arm/hand or other physical condition where one might not be able to control a club without some form of anchoring.

Tim Clark has stated, "I have a bit of a congenital arm issue where I can't supinate my forearms, so the short putter was just never very comfortable in my hands. I always looked awkward over it and it just felt awkward." Not a very compelling reason to be granted an exemption.
metnorm says:
I agree with werepuppie and bkuehn. Just take a look at Jim Abbott the dude didn't even have a right hand yet was still able to play in MLB. If he can overcome that to pitch then Tim Clark can overcome his thing.
legitimatebeef says:
I thought of the same thing as Brian. His case is going to be devastated by the language he has used in describing his situation. I think it was a Rosaforte interview, with Adam Scott, where Clark was asked point blank So is it painful to putt the traditional way? Being truthful, Clark had to admit no, and that its more like discomfort. I dunno about that Tim. Also that's making a huge assumption about what everyone else's experience putting is. Like everyone else in the world but Tim Clark is all perfectly comfortable, nobody gets any discomfort at all from using their putter, oh ok. Also why wouldnt he at least give himself a chance to try and fail before he starts whining about legal action. If I was the judge that's what I'd say, right before throwing Tim out of the courtroom.
joe jones says:
My point was not whether Clark is disabled but that it might be a reason to file a law suit. The sport of golf does not need a bunch of law suits right now. They have so many other problems that face them already. Both the USGA and R&A have said that golf is growing and they don't think this ruling will drive players away from the game. I don't know what studies they are using but I have read that golf has lost about 14% of active players in the last 2 years. Certainly other issues like cost and slow play have contributed to the loss but each problem becomes part of a big snowball. Pretty soon you have an avalanche. Why don't the ruling bodies spend as much time, money and effort on controlling the equipment and the golf ball. Is it because they would be challenging the manufacturers and they can be very litigious and usually will fight to the death. It,s my opinion that that is why they didn't ban long and belly putters but went after a non traditional stroke instead.
Kurt the Knife says:
what a mess
Trip says:
If a judge watched Clark with a full swing hit a golf ball, I find it hard to believe he would think putting would be uncomfortable. He should just start practicing now. He's a professional. If Ben Hogan can get hit by a bus and win a major, I think he can work around his "uncomfortableness".
falcon50driver says:
There needs to be an extensive background check and a three day waiting period before allowing a person to purchase a long putter. Putters don't make putts, people do. A person doesn't need an automatic putter. etc etc
Matt F says:
How many degrees does it take to run the USGA...apparently a lot. Doesn't give any of them any commonsense though!
jasonfish11 says:
Very nice falcon. Very nice. lol
Anti-Mulligan says:
Tim Clark can still use the long putter he just can't anchor it. He shouldn't have a problem nor should any pro. They don't have to change equipment at all, just remove it from your bellybutton or chest. Simple answer.
Kurt the Knife says:
"when anchored putters are outlawed, only outlaws will anchor putters"

"U can take from my cold, dead hands"

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