Golf facing huge split but R&A are in right

Sam Torrance
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IT’S no exaggeration to say that golf is currently facing a huge issue that threatens to cause a major split between the game’s lawmakers, the R&A, and the richest and most powerful tour, the PGA.

The R&A and the US Golf Association have proposed banning the use of putters that are anchored to a player’s chest or belly. The PGA, however, have made no secret of their opposition to such a move.

It is potentially very messy and I fear this is one row that won’t play out quickly, but will instead draw out for some time. A big worry must be that it is less than five months until the Open Championship at Muirfield. What happens if neither side backs down?

At the root of the disagreement is that the two parties are coming from different places. The R&A is interested only in what should be legal, while the PGA is concerned with representing its top players.

It’s a far more contentious matter in America than in Europe, with Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley among the US players to have won Majors in the last two years using anchored putters – and many have never used anything else.

Personally, I’m with the R&A on this. It is not a stroke in the true sense if the putter is being anchored somewhere, which I’m convinced gives you an advantage. Of course, I instigated the use of longer putters more than 20 years ago. But the difference is mine was never hinged on anything – and would still be allowed under the R&A’s proposals.

Ultimately, the R&A is the governing body and straight as a die. Their decision on this thorny issue should be the definitive one.

Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell put in good performances at the WGC Match Play Championship last week, with Poulter back into the world’s top 10 and looking good following his six-week break.

Matt Kuchar was a worthy winner, while the first-round defeats suffered by world No1 Rory McIlroy and No2 Tiger Woods showed why sponsors don’t like match play. It was another blemish for McIlroy with his new Nike clubs, too. His swing didn’t look that good and I wonder whether doubts might be starting to creep into his mind.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam