European Tour chief wants all golfers to have access to same equipment

George O'Grady at the DP World Tour Championship
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Playing the same equipment as the professionals helps keeps amateurs connected to the game of golf, says European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady.
PA Sport

Series: Product Spotlight

Published: Monday, November 26, 2012 | 7:05 p.m.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Golfers around the world are waiting to hear if long putters will be banned -- or at least the way many currently use them is outlawed.

But one influential voice is urging professionals not to take radical action even if they don’t like having to change. He wants to see elite tour players continue to play by the same rules and with the same equipment as everyday golfers.

"Speaking personally on behalf of the Tour, one of our great facets is that we are connected to the game that every amateur can play as well," said European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady. "We could go separately. I would urge the Tour to follow the rules as laid down by the governing bodies.

"We are a very strong lobbyist, our views being sought all the time," he noted. "There's been a lot of discussion throughout the year with the USGA (United States Golf Association) and the R&A (Royal and Ancient Club) and the PGA Tour.

"I think the rules-making bodies have to do what they think is right for the game," he stressed.

"The view of our leading members and our players must be listened to, but I haven't heard one of our members want to break away at the moment," he added. "They want to be connected to the game."

The issue has come to the fore with three of the last five major champions -- Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els -- among those using long putters. Nobody had ever won a major with one until Bradley's victory at the 2011 PGA Championship.

After Ernie Els won the British Open last summer, R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson said that the governing bodies were looking at what he called the method of stroke.

"Anchoring is what we're looking at -- method of stroke -- and it's all about putting around a fixed pivot point, whether that is in your belly or under your chin or on your chest," he explained.

"It has dramatically increased and we're also seeing now people who can putt perfectly well in the conventional way thinking that an anchored stroke gives them an advantage," he added. "I think that's the fundamental change that we've witnessed in the last couple of years.

"The objections I find from those at elite level are, '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?'" he said. "That's the general argument one hears."


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