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Ruling bodies clarify rule on caddies standing behind players

Following a number of controversies on tour, the R&A and the USGA have provided two clarifications to Rule 10.2b(4) regarding restrictions on caddies standing behind players.

The joint statement by the two ruling bodies noted that the “purpose of Rule 10.2 is to reinforce the fundamental challenge of making a stroke and to limit the advice and other help a player may receive during a round. Rule 10.2b(4) ensures that aiming at the intended target is a challenge that the player must overcome alone.”

Rule 10.2b(4): “When a player begins taking a stance for the stroke and until the stroke is made, the player’s caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to the player’s line of play behind the ball for any reason. If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away. 

Exception – Ball on Putting Green: When the player’s ball is on the putting green, there is no penalty under this Rule if the player backs away from the stance and does not begin to take the stance again until after the caddie has moved out of that location.”

The two clarifications can be summarised as follows:

  • Meaning of “Begins Taking a Stance for the Stroke”: If a player backs away from a stance, the player is not considered to have begun a “stance for the stroke”. Therefore, a player can now back away from his or her stance anywhere on the course and avoid a breach of Rule 10.2b(4) if the caddie had been standing in a location behind the ball.
  • Examples of When a Caddie is Not “Deliberately” Standing Behind the Ball When a Player Begins Taking Stance for Stroke: As written, the Rule does not apply if a caddie is not deliberately standing behind a player. It is clarified that the term deliberately” requires a caddie to be aware that 1) the player is beginning to take a stance for the stroke to be played and 2) he or she (the caddie) is standing on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball. Several examples are given in the clarification to provide additional guidance.

 The complete language to the two major clarifications can be found by clicking here

These clarifications confirm the recent rulings given in relation to Rule 10.2b(4). Clarifications provide additional guidance on a Rule based on the circumstances that may arise in applying it. They are part of an ongoing list provided to players and referees.

A full list of clarifications to golf’s new Rules can be found on www.randa.org.

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