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Will R&A's and USGA's anchor hold in crashing waves of opposition?

Hear the phrase "anchored" and you tend to think of barnacle-encrusted sea dogs sitting on the dock guzzling rum, singing shanties and recalling the kind of eyebrow- raising exploits on an ocean wave that would've shattered the timbers let alone shivered them.

In the increasingly choppy waters of golf, however, the aforementioned term looks likely to provoke the Royal & Ancient game's equivalent of Mutiny On The Bounty.

On Thursday, the three-month long "period of consultation" over the proposed ban on anchoring a club to a part of the body during, predominantly, the putting stroke will draw to a close. When, at the back end of 2012, the R&A and the USGA, the two governing bodies, unveiled plans for a new addition to the Rule Book, rule 14-1b, which would prohibit the anchored method, it seemed the golfing world was ready to pick up the metaphorical marker and say "aye, we'll gie ye that".

Over the past few weeks, though, the humming, hawing, murmuring and tut-tutting, over a rule that would come into force on January 1, 2016, has increased in volume and it reached a crescendo at the weekend when Tim Finchem, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, declared that his circuit was set to fight the ban.

"On this issue we think if they [the R&A and the USGA] were to move forward, they would be making a mistake," said Finchem, who added that there was also plenty of opposition among his players to the outlawing, with 13 of 15 members of the Players' Advisory Council against the proposed rule. "Essentially, where the PGA Tour came down was that they did not think that banning anchoring was in the best interest of golf or the PGA Tour."

As far as spanners in the works go, it was pretty sizeable and how the game's ruling bodies react to Finchem's public posturing will be interesting to say the least. Imagine if the R&A and USGA alliance did back down – and one would assume that there would be more chance of folk skating on an ice rink in hell than that happening – then who holds the real power in the game?

Finchem, of course, is not the only one to have flexed his muscles in recent weeks. Mark King, the main man at equipment manufacturing giant Taylor Made, launched an outspoken offensive and roared that the governing bodies will be "nonentities in 10 years' time" while expressing the opinion that they will eventually become "obsolete". It was a rant full of big-business bluster and self-centred commercial concerns and if the likes of King had his way then we really would be selling golf down the river. They may not be everybody's cup of tea but the R&A and the USGA, unshackled by the myriad self-interests that afflict other bodies, are the game's protectors with a responsibility for doing what is best.

Yes, they are far from perfect and they may have been 40 years late with this motion for a ban on the use of long and belly putters, but as Peter Dawson, the chief executive of the R&A, has always stated: "It's never too late to do the right thing." While the actual benefits of the said putters remains an area of varied debate, the rise in the use of anchored contraptions can't be denied while the sight of many juniors employing such a method – 14-year-old Guan Tialang won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last season with a belly putter – increased the fears that it is becoming the stroke of choice and not the stroke of the last resort. Technique, it seems, is now overwhelming tradition and for the guardians of the game, the line has been reached.

In proposing to finally do the "right thing" – and let's face it, a club attached to a pivot point is not a natural stroke in the truest spirit of golf – the R&A and the USGA are now facing a showdown with a lucrative and powerful PGA Tour that appears determined to ignore the rule change and allow its members to carry on anchoring.

Golf could be plunged into chaos and it is a Pandora's Box of mind-mangling consequences. There could be the potentially ludicrous, and worst-case scenario, whereby the Open and the US Open, run by the R&A and the USGA respectively, prohibit anchoring while the remaining two majors on the other side of the Atlantic, the Masters and the US PGA Championship, permit it. And don't even start on the Ryder Cup.

Finchem's declaration of rebellion has caused a considerable amount of seismic activity in the game. To go against the anchoring ban would be to go against the Rules of Golf itself and, in this sport of integrity and honour, that is a potentially destructive and divisive assault on its very core.

In 2002, the R&A and the USGA unveiled a joint statement of principles in which they stated that "the retention of a single set of rules for all players of the game, irrespective of ability, is one of the game's greatest strengths".

Golf's governing bodies are now facing a torrid tempest. We will soon discover if the R&A and the USGA's own anchor will hold amid these crashing waves of opposition.

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