Torrance & Smyth Suggest Ruling Bodies Will Find It Difficult To Ban Unconventional Putters Following Success By Scott & Bradley

In the wake of wins by Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley there is renewed scrutiny over the validity of using long-handled or belly putters.

Scott wielded a ‘broomstick’ putter in capturing the biggest tournament in his career, WGC – Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, and a week before Bradley tucked an Odyssey ‘Sabertooth’ putter into his belly to capture the PGA Championship in Atlanta.

Sam Torrance has weilded his putter to success all around the globe. (Photo

Bradley was competing in his fist Major Championship and also became the first player in the history of the game to win a Major using a belly or unconventional length putter.

Not only has the unconventional clubs helped Scott and Bradley but it resurrected the careers many years ago of the likes of Vijay Singh, Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie.

South African Trevor Immelman sung the praise of the belly putter in defeating Padraig Harrington to capture 2004 Deutsche Bank – TPC of Europe title in Germany.

That same year golf’s ruling bodies, the R & A and the USGA, discussed the legality of the putter but decided against any change and indicating they did not want to restrict the use of the club to those older social players struggling with back injury.

Scotland’s Sam Torrance still proudly boasts he was the first player to use a long-handled putter in tour competition.

And Torrance weilded the ‘broomstick’ to enormous success capturing 22 events on the European Tour from 1976 to 1998, and 11 events on the European Senior Tour since turning 50 in 2003.

And Torrance believes the only way the R & A or USGA could now restrict the use of the putter is to ban players from anchoring the club under their chin or tucked into their stomach.

“The problem the R & A had with the putter when I was playing on the Tour was the terminology,” said Torrance after carding a level par 72 on day one of the Scottish Senior title at St. Andrews Bay.

“If they ever did ban the club it would be stopping players attaching the club to their body, and I would tend to agree with that as I hold my putter out from my body.”

However legendary Irishman Des Smyth, who has been using a long-handled putter for more than 10-years, believes golf ruling bodies will be hard-pressed in now banning the controversial club.

“It was only a matter of time before someone would use a long-handled or belly putter to win a Major,” said Smyth after carding a two-under par 70.

“What is surprising is that it took so long.

“But then the younger guys like Adam (Scott) and Keegan Bradley would not get around to using a long-handled putter till they get a bit older.

“I didn’t start using the long-handled putter until I lost my feel for normal size putters.

“It’s no big deal but then putting is also a very individual thing.

“So if the R & A want to ban the putter all they have to do is bring in a rule but also give everyone a few years notice.

“But I would be quite happy to go back the standard size putter but the only reason I use the long-handled putter is my back, and besides players will always find a way around it.”

My good friend and journalist colleague, Vartan Kupelian spoke to a number of players at this week’s Champion’s Tour major at Westchester.

Among those was Australia’s Peter Senior who was loaned a long-handled putter by Torrance and like the Scot, Senior proceeded to capture a golf bag full of titles. 

Senior immediately reaped the rewards winning four times in 1989, and then winning so many other tournaments using the long-handled putter he named his flashy off-shore motor cruiser ‘Broomstick’.

“All of a sudden everybody was on to me,” Senior said to Vartan in his article on

“They were saying it should be banned, it’s cheating, all this sort of stuff. But I’ve putted badly with it as well. There’s no recipe for good putting. You’ve still got to work out the line. You’ve got to hit it well.”

Senior began with a 46 1/2 -inch broomhandle anchored under his chin but he’s knocked an inch-and-a-half off that he’s on the Champion’s Tour.

“I’m down to 45 (inches) now,” Senior said.

“I used to putt like Sam Torrance, and then I forgot which chin I put it on. I had to shorten it a bit and put it on my chest. And it’s worked out pretty well since then.”

And Senior was involved in an historic, and still the only one-two-three long-handled putter finish in 1989 Australian Masters in Melbourne.

Bradley Hughes, Terry Price and Senior finished top-three at Huntingdale.

I recall double Major winning Nick Price, who was also contesting the event, was far from impressed.

But while there is renewed debate surrounding the long-handled and belly putter, it was Peter Fowler using a standard size putter who led the way after the opening day of the Scottish Senior’s.

Fowler finished birdie, eagle in a round of a seven-under par 65 to lead by two strokes from England’s Barry Lane and American Jerry Bruner.

However Lane turned down an invitation to compete in this week’s Euro 1.9m Champions Tour event in New York, where there is a Euro 281,000 first prize cheque on offer, to defend in Scotland.

And if Lane should retain his title in the Euro 287,000 event he’ll pocket a cheque of just Euro 43,000 compared to that on offer in the States.

“I turned down the invitation and felt being this week’s defending champion I didn’t want to disappoint the sponsors,” said Lane.

“I’ve played in Europe all my life, and while I want to play on the Champions Tour, if I was a sponsor you would want your defending champion to play.

“You would not want him withdrawing two days before the start of the tournament.

“And I want to support the European Senior’s Tour as there are some great players out here.  It’s a great tour and we need sponsors.”

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