Game’s rulers to get a grip over long putters

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First Keegan Bradley at the USPGA Championship last August, then Webb Simpson at the US Open last month, now an Open one-two of Ernie Els and Adam Scott.

The link? They have all used long putters – although the list may not get much longer.

Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal and Ancient Club, confirmed at Royal Lytham that they and the United States Golf Association, the sport’s other ruling body, are discussing a ban.

“This decision has not been taken, but I think we are going to say something in a few months rather than years,” said Dawson.

“There are further discussions to be had but if the rule is changed it would come into effect on January 1, 2016.”

The Rules of Golf are reviewed on a four-year cycle and that is when the new rulebook will be published.

“I’m not sure if it’s true but this may be the first one (major) where we have had the winner and runner-up with long putters,” added Dawson.

“Let me say 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 has happened.

“The situation is that the R&A and the USGA do have this subject firmly back on the radar. we need to clarify the position as soon as possible.

“The initial determination has been that we are examining the subject from a method of stroke standpoint rather than length of putter standpoint.”

Asked for data on how many players now use long putters he said: “We do monitor it and I think the biggest event last year was something like 21 per cent, but it seems to be averaging about 14-15 per cent.”

In the Open, there were 27 long putters and 16 belly putters in the field of 156 – 27.5 per cent.