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Home Harrington calls for the end of belly and long putters

Two-time former Open Champion, Padraig Harrington may or may not have an inside track on a somewhat controversial subject. Harrington after all carries the R&A logo on him during competition, which infers a rather friendly,cozy relationship with one of golf’s ruling bodies. After his round at the 141st Open Championship, Harrington spoke out about the topic of putting, specifically the long/belly putters. “If you're a good putter with the short stick, why would you change?” he began. “Clearly in the rules, the fact is if somebody invented the belly putter tomorrow, it would not pass. I think we could all agree with that. The only reason it got through is the people that used it 20 years ago were coming to the end of their careers and people would have been sympathetic and didn't want to finish Bernhard Langer's career by telling him you can't hold it like this, you can't attach it to your arm. They didn't want to say to whoever you can't play anymore. That's why it got by. If somebody came up with it tomorrow, there's no way they'd let it through.”

But he seemed fairly certain that something is going to change. “Not because I have any knowledge that they're going to ban them, that's more or less the consensus, they're going to have a two-year grace, a bit like the grooves,” he said. “I just hope that they don't wait too long.” Harrington was quick to say using the apparatus doesn’t take away from anyone’s accomplishment, such as Ernie Els (belly) who prevailed over Adam Scott (long) on Sunday. Speaking before the outcome was decided, Harrington said, “It doesn't take away from a guy using it at the moment. You can use whatever you'd like within the rules. It's like the grooves; the grooves were a big advantage to me. They were within the rules, now they're not within the rules. I hope they don't wait until I'm 50 years of age to change the rule.”

Its his contention that the putting style is a distinct advantage, which leaves you to believe he has expressed his strong opinion with the powers that be at the R&A. “Obviously if the standard of putting goes up, which it clearly does, guys wouldn't be using them if they didn't putt better with them, yeah? If the standard of putting goes up, it puts more pressure on the guys that aren't using one just to compete. So all of a sudden, it's hard for a normal putter, is he doing the right thing, should he be using the long putter? So it actually has a negative effect on others as much as a positive effect on some,” he rationalized. “I think it's kind of like the grooves,” he pontificated. “They give it 18 months or something like that before they said, that's it. You can use it up to that date, but you'd better practice with something else to get ready. The fact that they changed the groove rule has cost me shots. So I don't have any sympathy for anybody that comes out and says, I'd like to have the grooves back. And if they leave the putter in, well, then why can't I have my grooves back. That's the way I look at it. That's the way it is.”