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Home Long might be wrong with golf's rules makers

It turns out isn’t a matter of size. Rather the way in which it’s used. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews is somewhat consumed with the topic of the long putter yet it isn’t certain what, if anything, it will do about it. “Well, there's no doubt that we have seen a considerable up surge in the use of long and belly putters at the professional level in the last 12 months in particular, and at some tournaments the percentage of the players using them has approached or indeed once or twice gone just over the 20 percent mark,” remarked Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A. “Not only has the move been significant in overall quantity, as more and more players of a young age are using these longer putters because they feel it is a better way to putt rather than rescuing themselves from being unable to use the shorter one,” he continued...

“So yes, we are concerned about it, and it's very much back on the radar because of this move in the last 12 months. I don't think that's a secret. The subject is being looked at more from a rules of golf and method of stroke angle than it is from a length of club angle. The reason for that is that if you thought you were going to do something about long putters by saying the putter may be no more than 40 inches long, that would still allow short people perhaps to belly putt but not tall people,” Dawson said. “So limiting the length of club, if you're going to do something about this, is not a very sensible way to go. The other one we've heard is, and actually I think it perhaps came from us originally, is the putter should be the shortest club in the bag. Well, that doesn't do a lot of help for the tall chap who's got a bad back and can't bend down very easily. It also doesn't prevent the advent and we've seen some of this, of belly chipping, or indeed belly putting with say the 1‑iron. So it is being looked at on a method of stroke basis. There's a rule of golf that says you can't push, scrape or spoon as a method of stroke, so this is being looked at on a method of stroke basis.

“Now, I rush to say that no decision has been made about this, and I don't know if one will be. If it's being looked at as a matter of stroke in the rules of golf, that means that there would be no action prior to January 1, 2016, when the next quadrennial revision of the rules of golf is due, because it's being looked at as a method of stroke. And the real question is do we see in the future of golf that this type of stroke should be allowed or not, even though I quite admit it has been around for some time. On the one hand there's the argument you've let it go so long you can't do anything, the other argument is it's never too late to do the right thing.

“There are discussions ongoing at quite an intense pace, but I don't know sitting here as a matter of the rules of golf committee of the R&A and the USGA, I don't know what the outcome will be, and I stress no decision has been made yet.”