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R&A state no plans to ban long putters

Golf's governing body the Royal and Ancient have no immediate plans to outlaw long-handled "belly-putters" despite a call to ban them by world number three Ernie Els.

Belly-putters have longer handles that golfers tuck into the stomach to steady their putts.

The clubs' users include Colin Montgomerie and world number two Vijay Singh but on Thursday Els said they reduced the role of nerves and skill in the game and should be banned.

The R&A secretary Peter Dawson told Reuters the belly-putter had revived a debate about what clubs were suitable for competition play that was previously sparked by the even-longer "broomhandle putter".

"I think the advent of the belly-putter has brought the whole subject back up for further discussion and that's happening but it's at a very early stage. There's nothing imminent," Dawson said in a telephone interview.

It was possible the rules of golf, overseen by the R&A and the United States' USGA, could eventually be changed to ban belly-putters, Dawson said.

But he added: "It could just as easily not be changed and I would regard that as more likely."

"Anything that helps people play the game you might say is good for the masses of golfers but is perhaps not providing such a strong test for top players," Dawson added.

"I can see where Ernie's coming from," he said. "It does seem to make people who've perhaps passed their best days at putting better putters again and I can quite understand his frustration at that."

The R&A is responsible for the running of the game outside the U.S. where the USGA administer it.

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