Tait: Debacle has done game no favors

Use a long putter? No, but I was given one of the first ever made, tried it and gave up.

• • •

We must be the laughingstock of the entire sports world. The anchoring debacle does the game of golf no favors whatsoever.

Tell me, please, what other sport takes nearly 25 years to make a decision like this? None. Talk about falling asleep at the wheel, closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. It’s embarrassing.

Putting guru Harold Swash gave me a long putter back in 1989. I tried it for a few rounds before it was retired to gather dust behind my desk in the offices of the magazine for which I used to work.

There was much debate back then about whether such putters should be banned. That was the time for action. No wonder fans of the long putter thought they had nothing to worry about as the years rolled on.

For the R&A and U.S. Golf Association to come out with this decision now is way too late. I know the governing bodies pride themselves on taking a measured approach to such matters, but a quarter of a century? Come on! What on earth have they been doing all these years?

I wish I could say I am surprised, but I’m not. After all, it took them nearly 20 years to act on grooves.

There ought to be a statute of limitations for sporting bodies that says if you haven’t acted within a certain time, then you’ve missed the boat. The R&A and USGA endorsed the anchoring stroke back in the late 1980s by deeming long putters legal and allowing their use in competitions. The time for action was when these putters were submitted to the equipment committees of the respective bodies, not after they’ve been in play for a quarter of a century.

To make a U-turn a generation later makes the R&A and USGA look amateurish and incompetent. If anything is to be learned from this debacle, it is that the governing bodies need to get their acts together quicker in the future. A lot quicker!

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