LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -– The fact that, for the first time, the winner and runner-up of a major championship used long or belly putters “does not have a direct bearing on the discussions” to change the rules regarding those clubs, Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, said the morning after the Open Championship.
“They were going on well before what has happened yesterday,” said Dawson, mindful three of the last four major winners have used a long or belly putter. “The situation is that the R&A and the USGA do have this subject firmly back on the radar. We appreciate that there is much speculation about this and that we need to clarify the position as soon as possible. And I think you’re going to see us saying something about it one way or the other in a few months rather than years.”
In the field of 156 players, 27 used long putters and 16 went with the belly version, said Jim McArthur, chairman of the championship committee. Dawson said that represents a dramatic increase over the last five years.
Dawson said the governing bodies are examining the situation “from the a method of stroke standpoint (anchoring on a fixed pivot point such as chest or belly) rather than length of putter.”
He says the objection he hears from professionals is this: “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.”
Dawson reiterated that a rule would not change until 2016, adding, “I do stress, this decision hasn’t been taken. Please don’t think that it has.”