For Peter Dawson, the 'Big Yin' at the Royal & Ancient, the recent rumblings regarding the belly putter must have prompted the odd Connolly-esque expletive as he mulled over the topic during a quiet afternoon in his sumptuous St Andrews HQ.
The use of belly putters, long putters and the process of 'anchoring' the said club to a part of the body has caused debate for years, but there are now fresh and boisterous calls to finally do something about it as the popularity of such golfing weapons soar in the wake of the successes enjoyed by the likes of Adam Scott, Webb Simpson and the reigning US PGA champion Keegan Bradley. At the United States Golf Association's recent agm, Mike Davis, Dawson's counterpart across the Atlantic, injected the whole affair with renewed vigour when he suggested that there was "a new ban-the-belly movement within the R&A".
Over to you, Mr Dawson. "I wasn't quite sure where that came from, to be honest," confessed the chief executive of the game's ruling body. Despite those sentiments, there is no denying Dawson's stance on the subject. "Do I like it as a golf stroke? No I don't, personally," he said. "But it's not a personal decision, you've got to think of the wider game. It's common knowledge that it's back on the radar having, very suddenly, seen this massive uptake in use. I understand all the arguments and acknowledge people asking why are we looking at it now when it's been going on for years?"
Back in 1968, the powers that be took swift action on the croquet style of putting pioneered by the great Sam Snead and banned it. "That decision to ban croquet putting was taken very quickly," added Dawson. "Had croquet putting been allowed for donkey's years, to then ban it would have been far more difficult."
Given the situation, and the watershed moment of major triumph for a long putter by Bradley, has the horse not already bolted? "In a sense, yes," said the 63-year-old Aberdonian. "The counter argument is that it's never too late to do the right thing. It will be a constant subject of discussion until there is a conclusion."
The belly barny has once again highlighted the well-documented issue of 'bifurcation', the idea of having two sets of rules for professionals and amateurs in this increasingly controversial area of equipment. At a basic level, long putters have helped the casual golfer to keep playing and the last thing the custodians of the game would want is people walking away from the sport. Yet, 'anchoring' is simply not a natural golf stroke. And it is in the competitive arena where calls for regulation have been the loudest. Dawson remains staunchly anti-bifurcation, though.
"I haven't met a bifurcator yet who could tell me where it ended going forward, they are guessing what will happen," he said. "Golf is golf and that's a major strength of the game. If you want to go and invent another game, that's fine. But golf is golf. You could imagine down the road if there's one rule for the amateurs and one for the pros, then TV companies may say 'well this 18 holes business is taking up too much time let's just have 15 hole rounds'. You could get all sorts of things. It's good for golf to have one set of rules. Let's all be playing golf."
Any resolution to this problem concerning anchoring will come at the end of a long, drawn out affair. It's rather like the game of golf itself in the modern era. From club level, through to the elite amateur scene and into the professional ranks, the pace of play these days makes the fossilisation process look like the 60 metre dash.
Rounds well in excess of five hours have been commonplace for a long time. Luke Donald, the world No.1, recently took to Twitter to express his anguish that "slow play is killing our sport". Penalties, through fines and shots, are in place but nothing appears to be improving. The top end of the amateur game, in particular, can be excruciatingly slow with snail-like habits inevitably being carried on to the pro stage when players make the transition.
"It is a huge worry," stated Dawson. "At club level, fourball golf is killing the pace of play. In the pro game, some of the players are so slow something has to be done. We are going to give this a lot more attention at our amateur events this year and our championship committee has determined itself to do something about it and apply the policy more strictly. We will put people on the clock and give penalty shots.
"The coaches have to think about this. They do tend to teach these young players to have pre-shot routines where they don't start until the other player has played his shot and so on. It can be terrible. The tour golf needs to be speeded up too. It's difficult to know what to do about it unless field sizes are considerably reduced and I don't think that's going to happen. I'm not going to say less pros in tour events. What I've said is simple mathematics and that's the tricky bit. The whole field goes as slowly as the slowest player. I don't pretend I have the answer. The administrators aren't the ones playing."
Dawson has now been at the helm for 13 years – "the first 20 are the worst," he joked – and come 2014 he'll be of a vintage when most folk are pondering retirement. That year will also be notable for a decision on Scotland's independence. With the game's governing body firmly rooted on Scottish soil and the world's oldest major coming under their control, where does golf sit in the grand scheme of separation?
"We will play that card on referendum day," he said with a chuckle. "It's increasingly a subject of conversation but who knows? The R&A relocates to London! It throws up so many things that you take for granted. The 'British' Open, would the Walker Cup team be GB, S & I? There are much bigger issues in independence than the Open but it's fascinating stuff."
And on the question of retirement? "You never want to overstay your welcome. If there's ever a hint of that, I'll be gone. Bifurcation? Now that would be a retirement issue," he concluded with a wry smile.