Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Veterans Trevino and Norman put golf chiefs in the dock

Lee Trevino has waded into recent debates

Thank heaven for men like Lee Trevino and Greg Norman and any others among golf's living icons prepared to stand up and tell it as it is.

In his own inimitable way, Trevino blew the lid off the long-putter debate, while Norman has rubbished the sport's hopeless anti-doping programme.

Golf is beset by political correctness and has its own version of 'omerta'. So it falls on people like Trevino and Norman, who clearly no longer feel bound by any code of silence, to expose half-truths, untruths and guilty omissions.

Trevino brilliantly nailed any lies about the long putter after trying one for himself at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf in Savannah.

Tex-Mex told leading US golf writer Adam Schupak of 'Golf Digest': "I had the yips so badly with that little putter I thought I'd bleeding ulcers."

So he put a TaylorMade Ghost belly putter in the bag for the final round and afterwards revealed his putting was vastly improved.

"Now I see why they want to make this one illegal," he said. "It's like cheating. I swear to God. It's the easiest thing I've ever seen to putt with, that belly putter."

As for leading Champions Tour player Bernhard Langer, Trevino said: "There's no question, he wouldn't be playing like he is if it wasn't for the long putter. It takes the pressure out."

Trevino's words cut straight through much of the self-serving guff that's been spoken, particularly by those in US professional circles, since the game's ruling bodies, the USGA and R&A, signalled their intent to ban the use of long putters through 'anchoring' in January 2016.

Those who oppose the ban chant the illogical mantra that long putters have been around so long it's too late to do anything about them now, while some 'anchorers' suggest there's no evidence that it brings them any advantage. No question, when it comes to anchoring, there really are lies, damned lies and Tour putting statistics!

As any teaching pro will tell you, belly and long putters help golfers at all levels overcome the yips because they take fidgety bits, like the wrists, out of the equation.

The true impact of belly and long putters is measured in trophies won under the cosh, not statistics.

Four out of the past six Major championships is convincing enough, with Adam Scott, winner of the recent US Masters, offering persuasive evidence of the almost instant benefits anchoring can bring.

Meanwhile. Commissioner Finchem in particular and golf administrators in general have been given a lambasting by Norman after Vijay Singh's use of prohibited 'deer antler spray' exposed a huge hole in golf's anti-doping programme.

Describing the failure to put a credible testing system in place as "disgraceful", Norman said: "You have to have blood testing, simple as that.

"It's a pin prick for a player and you find out what's going on. If you're the head of golf or any sport, if you're the commissioner for a sport, it's your responsibility to make sure your sport is clean. That should be your No 1 priority.

"You only have to look at Vijay Singh recently to know the issue is there. How deep is it? I have no idea because we only do urine analysis instead of blood testing," Norman added.

Straight talking of the sort you're unlikely to hear from within golf's 'pale'. By expressing their views so forthrightly, Norman, Trevino and other outspoken icons offer further invaluable service to their sport.