USGA delivers clarifications on Rule regarding caddie position
06 Feb 2019
by AmateurGolf.com Staff

USGA photo
USGA photo

Over the past two weeks on the European and PGA Tours, it became obvious that more clarification was needed on Rule 10.2b(4), which sets restrictions on caddies standing behind players during competition. The USGA delivered those clarifications on Feb. 6, and they will become effective immediately.

According to a USGA press release, Rule 10.2b(4) ensures that aiming at the intended target is a challenge that the player must overcome alone. It states:

“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 USGA summarized its two clarifications this way:

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 can be found here.

In the release, the USGA explained that “clarifications provide additional guidance on a Rule based on the circumstances that may arise in applying it.” Two such circumstances arose in the past two weeks.

Haoting Li was handed a two-stroke penalty for violating Rule 10.2b(4) during the European Tour’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and it ended up costing him roughly $98,000 in prize money. A week later, Denny McCarthy incurred a penalty for breech of 10.2b(4) during the second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. McCarthy’s penalty was rescinded by the next day, however. The USGA’s clarifications confirm the latter ruling.

“Experience has taught us that introducing a new Rule requires us to balance patience with a willingness to act quickly when necessary,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA senior managing director of governance. “With so many pivotal changes to the Rules this year, we’ve committed to offering any assistance needed in making the Rules easier to understand and apply, without taking away the inherent challenge of playing the game. We appreciate that everyone involved in drafting these clarifications worked together with this same goal in mind.”

Information from the USGA used in this report

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