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Long handled putter set to stay

The controversial broom-handled putter can stay in the golf bag.

It remains an approved club, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club ruling body said on Thursday.

R&A officials conceded there had been considerable discussion about the putter since the rules were last amended four years ago. Opinion was divided and some felt the use of the extra long club was not golf.

"But we are unconvinced that there is a sufficiently strong groundswell of opinion for a change and so we were disinclined to make the club unlawful," they said.

New R&A secretary Peter Dawson said many golfers feel that without the long putter -- adopted by players like Bernhard Langer and Sam Torrance -- "they would not be able to play golf because a kind of paralysis takes over (when they use a normal putter)~.

"We legislate for anyone who plays the game and the consensus seems to be that if you're a bad putter the long putter may be of some use to you -- though not if you use it from day one," said rules committee chairman Ian Pattinson.

"We also decided not to rule on how the club is held or to limit the length of the putter."

The officials were also asked about European Ryder Cup captain Mark James's suggestion for a loss-of-hole penalty for players deemed to have incited the crowd.

They replied that the team event was played under the Rules of Golf and a local rule covering the Ryder Cup only was not possible.

The rule governing the role of caddies in helping their players line up their putts was amended to bar caddies from standing behind the "line of play" or "line of putt" while the player is making a stroke from anywhere on the course.

Previously the rule,16-1, applied only to the putting green.