Bellyache Facing Golf’s Ruling Authorities
Lytham St Annes, England (July 24): The R&A has confirmed it intends to make a decision over the coming months, in collaboration with the USGA, on whether ‘anchored’ putters will remain legal in golf.
The announcement was made my Peter Dawson, R&A Chief Executive, at the R&A’s annual press conference held the morning after the day before at Royal Lytham and St Annes, as the dust was settling after the 2012 Open Championship finished here, won by Ernie Els.
The debate over belly and broomhandle putters intensified last week at Royal Lytham, in the aftermath of Webb Simpson winning the US Open with a long putter, and with Els winning here with a belly putter, and Adam Scott finishing runner-up using a longer broomhandle.
“The R&A and the USGA do have this subject firmly back on the radar,” started Dawson, who confirmed earlier this year that any change in the rules would not come into effect until January 1, 2016. “We appreciate there is much speculation about this and that we need to clarify the position as soon as possible. I think you’re going to see us saying something about it one way or the other in a few months rather than years.”
Belly and broomhandle putters are becoming increasingly popular on professional Tours throughout the world, and while the uptake of long putters is slower in the amateur game, Dawson said that manufacturers had confirmed to him that long putters were beginning to make their mark among club golfers in the United States in particular.
Dawson succinctly relayed the objection the R&A receives on long putters from the Tour fraternity, with Tiger Woods among the golfers to be vocally opposed to their legality.
“The objection is: if people have become failed putters in the conventional way, why should they have a crutch to come back and compete against me when I haven’t failed in the conventional way?” said Dawson. “That’s the general argument, but we’re also now seeing people who can putt perfectly well in the conventional way thinking that an anchored stroke gives them an advantage. That’s the fundamental change we’ve witnessed in the last couple of years.”
So, a message to golfers using belly putters in particular, which are anchored to the body during the putting stroke: don’t get too comfortable with them.
**Story by Robin Barwick, courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, patron of the 2012 Open Championship. The new Mercedes-Benz City Golf App is now available on iTunes.