Rough week for 10.2b(4); USGA indicates clarification coming
03 Feb 2019
by AmateurGolf.com Staff

Caddies are allowed in all USGA amateur events (USGA photo)
Caddies are allowed in all USGA amateur events (USGA photo)

It wasn’t a banner weekend for the modernized Rules of Golf, and one rule in particular. Rule 10.2b(4) – which prohibits caddies from lining up their players – came under fire when Denny McCarthy incurred a two-shot penalty for violating the rule on Friday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, only to have that penalty rescinded before the start of play on Saturday.

McCarthy was initially penalized after footage showed his caddie standing behind him as he took practice swings next to his ball. McCarthy, who won last year’s Web.com Tour Championship and formerly played for Virginia, was preparing to hit his approach at the par-5 15th at TPC Scottsdale.

The text of Rule 10.2b(4) places restrictions on a caddie’s position while the player takes his address. It’s worded this way: “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 an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason.”

The rule also states that “if the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away.” An exception exists on the putting green only.

Tthings truly got sticky at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, according to a Golf Channel report, when videos surfaced on social media after the second round suggesting that Justin Thomas had also violated the rule.

The USGA had released this statement by Saturday:

A week ago at the European Tour’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Haoting Li was handed a two-stroke penalty for violating Rule 10.2b(4), but his penalty stood. It ended up costing him roughly $98,000 in prize money.

So what does it mean for amateurs? In many events, like this weekend’s Jones Cup, caddies are allowed. Whatever interpretation results from the confusion of the past two weeks will serve to help amateurs navigate the new rule as the amateur season ramps up.

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