One-armed Norfolk golfer finding new putting regulations a real pain

One-armed golfer Bob Payne, with his extended putter which new rules from the golfing governing body

One-armed golfer Bob Payne, with his extended putter which new rules from the golfing governing body mean he can no longer use. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

One-armed golfer Bob Payne fears his competitive days may be over following a much debated rule change introduced by the game's governing body, the R&A.

Since the turn of the year players have been prohibited from anchoring their putter either directly or by the use of an anchor point in making a stroke.

It means all golfers who have got used to sticking a club against their chest, chin or any other part of their body to prevent the club from swinging freely have had to find a different way to putt.

And that includes amateurs like Payne as well as big earning professionals like Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley.

The 71-year-old from Mattishall, who lost his left arm in an accident as a child, has anchored his long putter against his body ever since taking up the game.

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He is dismayed that rules drawn up by the R&A, prompted largely by pressure from some of those in the professional game, also apply to him and says it will make it tough to continue to compete in events organised by the Society of One Armed Golfers.

'A lot of golfers like myself anchor their putters – it's just the easiest way to do it when you have only got one arm,' explained Payne, who plays most of his golf at the Norwich Family Golf Centre, Easton these days after early stints at Barnham Broom and the now closed Norfolk Club at Reymerston.

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'Since the ruling came into force I have tried just letting the club swing freely but it is not something I feel comfortable doing.

'There is no way I can putt accurately doing it that way, I just have no control.

'It suits some one-armed golfers to do it that way – but not me.

'My handicap is back out to 28 now – that's got something to do with getting older but this certainly won't help and it will certainly make it difficult, if not impossible, to take part in competitions, which is a real shame as it is something I really enjoy doing.'

A spokesman for the R&A suggested Payne should make contact to discuss his situation with them.

'It's difficult to comment without knowing more about Mr Payne's specific circumstances and we would certainly encourage him to contact us directly so we can give him some advice on potential options,' he said.

'There are a range of strokes permitted under the new rule, including gripping the club against the wrist or forearm.

'Under the modified rules for golfers with disabilities there is also an exception for golfers who cannot hold or swing the club without anchoring it.

'But if the golfer is able to make a stroke, including a putt, without anchoring the club, then the new rule applies as it does for all other golfers.'

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