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July 23, 2012

Johnnie Cole-Hamilton

Peter Dawson

Jim McArthur


MALCOLM BOOTH:テつ Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.テつ Thank you for joining us.テつ Welcome to the R&A's press conference the day after the 141st Open Championship.テつ I'll introduce the top table.テつ To my right is Jim McArthur, Chairman of our Championship Committee, to his right Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of the R&A, and to his right is Johnnie Cole‑Hamilton, Director of Championships.
I think Jim would like to say a few words.
JIM McARTHUR:テつ Good morning, all.テつ Thanks for coming out this morning.テつ I know it's been a hard week for us all.テつ I think The Open Championship yesterday, the climax, was a bit more exciting than we kind of anticipated I think after nine holes.テつ I don't think anybody expected the finish we had, which was great for the spectators, hopefully great for the media, as well.
A bit of a tough week last week obviously with the weather, but we got through that.テつ We had a pretty good turnout I think in terms of crowd, just over 180,000, which was comparable to the previous time we were here at Royal Lytham & St.Annes, and I think in the current economic conditions that was a pretty good achievement for us.
Also I think the spectator experience, the feedback I've had already, has been pretty good, despite the weather, and I'm glad we did manage to get started.テつ It looked as if we might not do that.テつ We have a great champion, Ernie Els, a world class player, as you know, a world class player for some time, and I think all in all we're pretty satisfied with the outcome of the Championship this week.テつ Happy to take any questions.

Q.テつ Was there any stage where you were so worried about the water in the bunkers, the standing water, that you may have had to postpone play for a while?
JIM McARTHUR:テつ Well, obviously Friday morning was very critical for us.テつ The first thing we obviously had to make sure was the course was playable, and although there was water in the bunkers, quite a few of the bunkers, in fact, we were satisfied that under the rules we could find relief somewhere.
The biggest problem for us on Friday morning was the spectators because you all seen yourself coming in here that all the spectator areas were almost under water, and we were also worried about the car park, the park and ride and getting people into the ground.テつ I think that was the main concern was the spectator side of it rather than the golf course, to be honest.

Q.テつ We've now had three major champions of the last four, you're smiling already, with a putter injected into their belly.テつ There's been so much spoken about it, so many different rumors going on this week about the plans.テつ I wonder if you could get your point of view on them and what the R&A and USGA plan going forward.
PETER DAWSON:テつ Yes, I'm not sure if it's true.テつ This may be the first one where we have had the winner and runner‑up with long putters.テつ I don't know if that is a fact but it very well may be.テつ Let me say, first of all, that the Open Championship result is not‑‑ does not have a direct bearing on the discussions about long and belly putters.テつ They were going on well before what has happened yesterday.
The situation is that the R&A and the USGA are‑‑ do have this subject firmly back on the radar.テつ We appreciate that there is much speculation about this and that we need to clarify the position as soon as possible.テつ And I think you're going to see us saying something about it one way or the other in a few months rather than years.
There are still further meetings to be had, so we're just going to have to be patient I'm afraid and wait and see the outcome.テつ But as you know, it is under active discussion.

Q.テつ Could you share at least who's involved in these meetings?
PETER DAWSON:テつ Well, the initial determination has been that we are examining the subject from a method of stroke standpoint rather than length of putter standpoint, and that takes it into the area of the rules of play, the rules of golf, rather than the rules of equipment.テつ And therefore it's the rules of golf committees of the R&A and the USGA who are looking at this in detail, and then they have to make their recommendations to the boards of each organisation.

Q.テつ Question for Peter:テつ I saw some pretty exasperated looks on marshals' faces this week.テつ As I'm sure you know, everyone has a mobile phone with a camera on it these days.テつ I think they did a good job trying to stop people from disrupting the play.テつ But Gary Player said on Saturday he thought that you should adopt the Augusta stance, complete ban on mobile phones.テつ I just wonder what your thoughts are on that.
PETER DAWSON:テつ Well, we, as you know, took the decision to ban mobile phones after the Hoylake Open in '06 when we had some particularly bad experiences with use of the phones, particularly as cameras at that time.テつ We were very conscious in the intervening years that this had actually taken away from our spectators something that they increasingly like to have, for all the modern reasons we know about, and we think that the optimum solution is to find a way or still allowing spectators to have these devices at the Championship whilst at the same time protecting the players from distraction.
And from what I can gather over the four days, we were very successful in doing that this year.テつ My hats off to the spectators and to the marshals for indeed allowing that to be the case.
There are so many future advances coming along in technology that are going to enhance spectator experience at the Championship if they have mobile devices with them that I think it is very desirable that we make this new policy work, which I think we have this week, and make it last.テつ So we're very happy with the way it went.

Q.テつ Peter, do you have facts and figures on how the number of players on various tours has changed in terms of using long putters?
PETER DAWSON:テつ Well, we do monitor it, and I think the biggest event last year was something like 21 per cent of players use long and belly putters, but it seems to be averaging about 14 or 15 per cent.テつ We do have a count this week, but I can't remember off the top of my head what it was.
JIM McARTHUR:テつ I think we had 27 long putters and 16 belly putters.
PETER DAWSON:テつ Out of a field of 156.

Q.テつ Do you know how that's changed in the last five years?
PETER DAWSON:テつ It has dramatically increased from medium single figures I would say, about 5 or 6 percent.テつ It has moved up.テつ Interestingly, at the Amateur Championship at Troon, the count was quite low.テつ It was, again, medium single figures.
It hasn't yet backed its way all the way down the game, although the statistics would show, and I've checked this with the manufacturers, that at the club level or recreational level, if you can call it that, they are much more used in the United States than they are anywhere else in the world.

Q.テつ And what are the objections from those who object?
PETER DAWSON:テつ The objections I find from those who object at professional level, at elite level, are all about if people have‑‑ and this was the older objection, if people have become failed putters in the conventional way, why should they have a crutch to come back and compete against me when I haven't failed in the conventional way.テつ That's the general argument one hears.テつ But we're also seeing now people who can putt perfectly well in the conventional way thinking that an anchored stroke gives them an advantage.テつ I think that's the fundamental change that we've witnessed in the last couple of years.

Q.テつ Some would say if Adam Scott won, it would have been the lesser of the two evils, using that broom handle putter.テつ Is it fair to say it is anchoring more than anything, and if action is going to be taken it would be more against belly than broom handle?
PETER DAWSON:テつ No, anchoring is what we're looking at, method of stroke, and it's all about putting around a fixed pivot point, whether that fixed pivot point is in your belly or under your chin or on your chest.テつ I don't distinguish between the two.テつ It's a matter of stroke issue.

Q.テつ Some fairly strong words in the media preview a few months ago about the BBC television coverage.テつ Have you had a chance to review the television coverage of The Open thus far, and have you had any feedback from what it's been, and if not, do you intend to sit down in a darkroom with DVDs?
PETER DAWSON:テつ Well, we do sit in a darkened room with DVDs every year, sad I know, and I actually do track what's going on at the Championship during the week by watching quite a bit of television, especially on Saturday and Sunday in the afternoons.テつ I manage to get a few hours in while I'm here.
I thought the broadcast was extremely good this year.テつ The course did he have vision I thought looked particularly good on the pictures.テつ I thought the commentators did an excellent job.テつ We have a contract with the BBC through 2016, and we have a history with the BBC of over 55 years, so there's no doubt that come the end of this contract the BBC will be the first people we're talking to again, and I think they're doing a good job.

Q.テつ Peter, earlier on this year we were talking about the rule being changed to take into account the long putter, but you said it would not change until 2016.テつ Has that changed?テつ Have you brought that forward?
PETER DAWSON:テつ No, that has not changed because we're looking at this.テつ I do stress, this decision hasn't been taken.テつ Please don't think that it has.テつ It has not.テつ But if it is taken, the rules of golf are changed every four years, quadrennial review, and the next quadrennial review is January of 2016 when there will be a new rule book.
If that were to happen and we were to announce it in the reasonably near future, I think the amount of notice people would be getting of the change would be perfectly reasonable.

Q.テつ Given what the Open stands for and given what Ernie has given to golf, let alone what he's won from golf, does the controversy of the putter detract from what he achieved yesterday?
PETER DAWSON:テつ No, absolutely not.テつ The Championship is conducted under the rules of play at the time, and it doesn't detract in any way from the winner as long as he obeys the rules of play at the time.テつ Bobby Jones used concave‑faced clubs for some of his major championships.テつ They were outlawed later.テつ Bobby Jones' victories are in no way demeaned as a result of that, and I see that in exactly the same way.

Q.テつ I'll just ask what the R&A's viewpoint is on the site of a Premier League footballer caddying for his mate on the final day of the Championship?
PETER DAWSON:テつ And shooting 82?

Q.テつ Exactly, and chatting to spectators on the tee, whether it's taking the competition too lightly.
PETER DAWSON:テつ Well, it's not for me to say, and I would hope you would agree, Jim.テつ It's not for me to say anything about players' choice of caddie, as long as they behave in the best traditions of the Championship and within the rules.テつ I can't really comment.
For all I know, Mr.Tevez may be a very experienced caddie.テつ I've got no information as to his background.テつ But whether it's the player's fault or the caddie's fault that the score was so high, I couldn't possibly comment.
JIM McARTHUR:テつ The one thing we couldn't quite understand is why such a big crowd was following a match at the end of the field ‑‑ why did that happen‑‑ until we realised actually who was doing the caddying.

Q.テつ You don't think he's taking the competition too lightly?
JIM McARTHUR:テつ Well, I think we may need to look at this particular case.テつ Obviously it just happened yesterday but we haven't had a chance to discuss this.テつ Maybe it's something we need to just have a look at.テつ We do normally get a list of caddies at the beginning of the week and we take that into account.
PETER DAWSON:テつ Pretty interesting I thought because of the big crowd following the group that golf fans and football fans may overlap a little more than I had realised.テつ It's not a bad thing, perhaps.
JIM McARTHUR:テつ The strange thing for me was he never put the bag down, so when he was standing on the green he was carrying the bag all over the place.テつ It's just absolute madness.テつ I suppose he'll learn from that if he does that for the rest of the season.

Q.テつ He's out for the season with a shoulder injury?
JIM McARTHUR:テつ A bad back.

Q.テつ Peter, a quick clarification with the rules change every four years, if it was an equipment change and not a rules, can equipment changes be done every year?
PETER DAWSON:テつ Yes, equipment changes don't follow the four‑year cycle, although we are always on equipment changes mindful about the need for notice periods and the opportunity for manufacturers to comment.

Q.テつ Secondly, with Wimbledon going forward starting in 2015, coming up on a very busy summer in '16, I just wonder if you can talk about how are you going to deal with that going forward, and is it true that the PGA Championship has agreed to take the last week in July?
PETER DAWSON:テつ Well, the difficulty in 2016 with the schedule is that golf made a commitment to the IOC that no major event would clash with the Olympic period, and the particular difficulty with this is that the Olympic Games' dates are not cast in concrete.テつ The bid cities each four years have a window about six weeks in which to bid, so there is no certainty at any Olympic Games what exactly the dates will be going forward.
In 2016, the dates are such that the PGA Championship would clash if it were at its normal date with the Games, and therefore there have had to have been meetings about how to adjust the schedule because of that eventuality.
The Wimbledon date change‑‑ you said it was 2015.テつ I just caught up.テつ I was expecting it to be '14, but it's '15, the Wimbledon date change does impact on this with regard to when it's most sensible to play The Open that particular year, so we are going to have to go slightly back to the drawing board on this because of the Wimbledon announcement, and that's something we're working on in the coming weeks.
I can't answer when the PGA will now be, and it's a matter for them to announce that, not me.

Q.テつ The three weeks of the Olympic Games, no matter when the golf portion is held, a major can't be held during the Olympics?
PETER DAWSON:テつ That was the commitment indeed because golf is being played in two of the main two weeks of the games, men and women.

Q.テつ In separate weeks?
PETER DAWSON:テつ In separate weeks, yes.

Q.テつ Peter, it's been a year since The Open was played at Royal St. George's when there was quite serious traffic congestion.テつ Has the R&A come to the decision that the traffic system there needs to improve before the Open can return to Sandwich?
PETER DAWSON:テつ Well, we quite agree that the traffic at Royal St. George's was an issue, and we have been having meetings with the local authority down there to see what can be done to improve the situation, and those discussions continue.

Q.テつ You've set very clear guidelines in terms of pace of play before The Open Championship started.テつ Were you satisfied that they were generally met?テつ They seemed to be, but I wonder what your opinion is.
JIM McARTHUR:テつ Yeah, you're quite right.テつ The first two rounds were pretty much on time.テつ I think we were maybe five minutes behind, but there were some mitigating circumstances there.テつ I think on the final two days, again, we were very much on time until the last game, and the last game came in about ten minutes late.テつ But it was well on schedule in terms of television, etcetera, but it came in in good time.
So we were satisfied with how the pace of play went.テつ Lytham actually I think turned out to be a better course for pace of play than we anticipated.テつ I think the greens and the tees are pretty close together, and therefore there weren't too many long walks back to the tees.テつ So I think that helped considerably.テつ So we were generally satisfied with pace of play.
PETER DAWSON:テつ I think in my experience it was the best run we've had for 10 or 12 years, at least from a pace of play standpoint.
JIM McARTHUR:テつ And we got great support from the tours and from the invited officials.テつ They applied pace of play condition quite stringently.テつ We talked to the players a lot during the rounds, which I think helped.テつ Communication is certainly the way forward in terms of this, make the players understand what we're looking for, make sure they know what to do if they get out of position, and I think that has worked.

Q.テつ How much of a debt do you owe to the people behind the scenes who actually worked to get this Championship on time and finished on time?
PETER DAWSON:テつ Well, I think that goes without saying.テつ The club, its members, our own staff, our own committees, all the volunteers that we have, and it's thousands of people all together.テつ This is a very big event, and we just couldn't do it without them.テつ I don't know how we can find the words to thank these people enough.テつ It's a terrific performance.テつ Jim, you may want to add something.
JIM McARTHUR:テつ Friday morning was really chaos when we discovered how much rain had actually fallen.テつ We had expected 1 millimetre, we got 11 millimetres.テつ They had to be up very early, and the contractors that we employ in the village were out there all night making sure we could start the Championship, and it was a tremendous effort from everybody, and we couldn't have done it without them.テつ Without the commitment they had shown for that, we wouldn't have started on Friday morning.
JOHNNIE COLE‑HAMILTON:テつ I think one of the fortunate things the R&A have is contractors who have worked with us for decades, and they have the same love of the Open Championship as the staff do and really worked very, very hard.テつ All the contractors worked very hard and have a great feeling for the Championship and were committed to us to getting it done.テつ It's a great privilege to work in that arena and have days like Friday where we were in difficulty and everybody pulled together and pulled it round.テつ It was very good to be part of it, to be honest with you.

Q.テつ Peter, Tiger Woods was clearly heard to shout an obscenity on the 11th tee during his second round on Friday.テつ What action has been taken against him?
PETER DAWSON:テつ I didn't actually hear that personally.テつ It's the first time it's been raised with me, so I'm not going to give an off‑the‑cuff answer.テつ I'll have to look at that.テつ Sorry, I wasn't aware of it.

Q.テつ Will you look back‑‑ it actually wasn't shown at the BBC at the time.
PETER DAWSON:テつ I can certainly get hold of recordings, yes.テつ Glass houses come to mind sometimes, but I'll have a look at that.

Q.テつ Sorry, I don't understand, what's glass houses?
PETER DAWSON:テつ No, I've been known to swear on the golf course once or twice.テつ I'm not trying to knock it down.テつ We'll have a look at it and see, but honestly that's the first time that's been raised with me.

Q.テつ Your policy is to return to the Tour's‑‑
PETER DAWSON:テつ Yes, we use the Tour's disciplinary procedures and refer these things to the Tour.

Q.テつ Are you fixed on the method of stroke angle, because one of your former champions was saying yesterday that perhaps making the putter the shortest club in the bag would be the easiest solution to the whole thing.
PETER DAWSON:テつ Well, the shortest club in the bag idea has been around for a long, long time, and what it doesn't do, and we try to make the rules of golf for everyone, what it doesn't do is look at people with bad backs and difficulty in bending over and things like that, which is a consideration that our rules of golf committee look at, as well, as well as the obvious ones.

Q.テつ Please comment on the reception you received for your mobile apps around the world and on the golf course, and also the result of your trial on 18 of having wi‑fi in one of the grandstands?
PETER DAWSON:テつ I'm going to refer to Malcolm on that.
MALCOLM BOOTH:テつ Well, the trial, I think generally was very successful, having mobile phones back on‑site I think was a positive, and as Peter said, we were pleased with‑‑ we were certainly satisfied with how well the spectators adopted the policy.
The challenge which we were aware of before the Championship is to have a reliable service that allows you to use these apps out on the golf course.テつ You could use the scoring, but the 3G network was kind of intermittent in how well supported it was.テつ The trial on the 18th grandstand, we'll need to have a look at the data from that and get the feedback from the companies that put that in for us to see what's viable moving forward.
But I think we were pleased having introduced the phone policy to allow people to have their phones to be in contact with home and at the same time work towards a better spectator enhancement.テつ We were pleased with how it developed.
JIM McARTHUR:テつ We took a big risk here to be honest, introducing mobile phones back into The Open Championship.テつ We judged that the golfing public would support us, and I think generally they have.テつ They've come up absolute trumps here because it could have been a disaster.テつ Other tours and organisations have banned these, but we looked at it and we thought that the mobile phone is now part of everybody's life.テつ Some people's lives are actually in their mobile phone, and we took a chance, and I think that was proved correct.

Q.テつ We all know how many months it took to prepare the course, particularly for spectators in terms of stands, marquees, etcetera, and it's already started this morning to get the site restored to how it used to be.テつ I wonder what the time scale was for the removal and have the site looking as it did before The Open arrived.
JOHNNIE COLE‑HAMILTON:テつ Yeah, as you say, it starts today, and we have programmes in place, and we would think we would have the last bit of infrastructure by the third week of August, the last grandstand will leave the site.テつ But we'll work very closely with the club and the local authorities in the area that we've used and we'll work with them putting the place back to the way we found it, absolutely.
PETER DAWSON:テつ This is going to be a fairly high cost restoration I would suspect given the damage that the rain and the footfall has caused but that's something we regard as our responsibility and duty to leave the site as we found it or better than we found it.
JIM McARTHUR:テつ It's not just the site, obviously.テつ There's a very old golf course here, as well, which needs to be reinstated, so it's important to do that, to do that to suit the club.
PETER DAWSON:テつ Remarkable how firm the ground is this morning walking up here.テつ These things are never quite as bad as they look we find, but we'll certainly do the job to the fullest extent.
JOHNNIE COLE‑HAMILTON:テつ And again, the experience of our contractors have been around for a long time, many of them, and they respect the site and they'll work very hard with Grant Smith, our main contractor, respecting both the site and the residents and do their utmost to get out as quietly as they can.

Q.テつ Peter, do you know when and where the decision on the long putter will be taken?
PETER DAWSON:テつ No, not yet.

Q.テつ And the fallout of the Olympic golf, is that now cast in stone?
PETER DAWSON:テつ We're going to have another look at that in the next few weeks and months.テつ But golf's bid was based on individual competition.テつ It was accepted on individual competition, 72‑hole stroke play.テつ In order for that to be changed, and I'm not sure that it ought to be changed, but if it were to be, we'd have to get agreement from the IOC sports department.

Q.テつ They're a bit busy at the moment.
PETER DAWSON:テつ Poor devils are putting on 28 or 26 Open Championships over a two‑week period or the equivalent.テつ The logistical exercise boggles my mind frankly.

Q.テつ Just going back on the mobile phones issue, you said you took a big risk allowing them back in.テつ I saw on one hole a marshal, I was following Tiger Woods, of course, but he looked at the phones, and he said, we should have never allowed phones back in.テつ This is ridiculous.テつ I wonder what your reaction is to that.
JIM McARTHUR:テつ We've had very few reports on mobile phones.テつ If there are reports we'll obviously check all the input we get and review that, but as far as I know, we've had very few problems with mobile phones.
We have put in place a lot of marshals to help with that.テつ We've had people in place who have been telling the crowd as they're coming through the pay gates about the mobile phones.テつ We're trying to remind them.テつ I think we've had a good reaction to these mobile phones.テつ There's nothing that I know of ‑‑ and I'm willing to listen to anything ‑‑ that would make us change our mind on this at the moment.

Q.テつ Peter, what has prompted you to go back and possibly look at the format?テつ Is it team related?
PETER DAWSON:テつ Simply that a number of people, and I think we all had this at the back of our mind at the start, wouldn't it be nice to make the Olympic competition a little bit different, at least, from the week in, week out competition.
Now, the week in, week out competition, 72‑hole stroke play, is probably the best way to find the champion in terms of the standard of the examination paper.テつ But thoughts of an element of match play, thoughts of an element of team competition have been raised with us many times, and it's those areas we'll be having a look at.
But my own opinion is that we'll stick where we are.テつ But that's just my own opinion.
MALCOLM BOOTH:テつ Thank you very much for joining us.テつ Thank you.

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