R&A investigating long putter issue


The controversial topic of belly and broomhandle putters rumbles on and in fact has gained momentum with the top two players (Ernie Els and Adam Scott) in yesterday's Open using them.

In fact three of the last four major champions have triumphed with long handle putters which many golfing traditionalists feel should be outlawed. Using the longer putters is becoming a popular trend, specially in the US -  out of a field of 156 at Lytham there were 27 long putters and 16 belly putters on view.

But many believe that those who employ the long handled putters are gaining an unfair advantage.

Both the R&A and USGA are investigating the situation with R&A supremo Peter Dawson saying:"Let me say, first of all, that the Open Championship result does not have a direct bearing on the discussions about long and belly putters.  They were going on well before what happened yesterday.

"The situation is that the R&A and the USGA have this subject firmly back on the radar.  We appreciate that there is much speculation about this and that we need to clarify the position as soon as possible. And you're going to see us saying something about it one way or the other in a few months rather than years," he promised.

Dawson added: "There are still further meetings to be had, so we're just going to have to be patient I'm afraid and wait and see the outcome. 

"The initial determination has been that we are examining the subject from a method of stroke standpoint rather than length of putter standpoint, and that takes it into the area of the rules of play, the rules of golf, rather than the rules of equipment. 

"And therefore it's the rules of golf committees of the R&A and the USGA who are looking at this in detail, and then they have to make their recommendations to the boards of each organisation.

"Anchoring is what we're looking at, method of stroke, and it's all about putting around a fixed pivot point, whether that fixed pivot point is in your belly or under your chin or on your chest.  I don't distinguish between the two.  It's a matter of stroke issue."

World no.1 Luke Donald is one of the objectors saying: "It's unlikely I'll go there.  But I wouldn't mind seeing them not allowed to be used, put it that way."