Sunday, 23 August 2009

Caddies at Solheim Cup

I was interested to see that some of the caddies at the Solheim Cup in Sugar Grove, Illinois, were lining-up their players, not just on the putting greens but for all shots. This is permitted by the Rules, of course, but it brings up an interesting Rules point, that many players are unaware of.

In January 2000 there was a change to Rule14-2, which now reads;
14-2. Assistance
In making a stroke, a player must not:
a. Accept physical assistance or protection from the elements; or
b. Allow his caddie, his partner or his partner's caddie to position himself on or close to an extension of the line of play or the line of putt behind the ball.
Most players are aware that their caddie, partner or partner’s caddie cannot stay behind them while they make a putt on the putting green, but that restriction now applies to strokes made from anywhere on the course. If you were watching the Solheim Cup matches you may have noticed that after checking the line of their player’s set-up, the caddies moved to the side before the stroke was made. If they had stayed where they were, behind the line of play, the player would have incurred a loss of hole penalty (two strokes in stroke play).

For amateur players, who rarely have the luxury of a caddie, this Rule is most often breached in 4-balls, foursomes or team competitions, when a player is playing a stroke into the setting sun and their partner stands immediately behind them, so as to follow the flight of the ball. This shouldn’t really be a problem, as you are permitted to stand behind your partner providing you stand just a pace or two off the line of play, or line of putt. Presumably, the reason for this seemingly harsh Rule is the same as for Rule 8-2, which requires a player to remove any mark indicating a line, which either they have placed, or that has been placed with their knowledge, before they make their stroke.

As I write this blog the 2009 Solheim Cup is all square at 8 matches to USA and 8 matches to Europe, with the singles to play. It has been great competition so far and I am looking forward to watching the final day’s play.

Barry Rhodes

For information on my book - ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’, or my iPhone application – ‘Golf Rules Quiz’, please email me at rules at barryrhodes dot com.

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Anonymous said...

Barry - I have had a problem with this for a number of years - it isn't just the Solheim Cup. Top players, mostly women, use their caddies to line them up on every shot.

I wrote to the R&A (who responded the next day) and the USGA (who take their sweet time answering just about anything) with this question.

If grip, stance, posture, and alignment are the cornerstones of a good golf swing, shouldn't the best players IN A TOURNAMENT SITUATION have to line themselves up for their shots ?

They aren't getting a playing lesson from their local pro - they are competing, so why should the caddy be participating in any part of the swing ? These are the best players in the world, but they don't know where they are aiming ?

The response from the R&A came back that they have had this same discussion, but they have to consider rules for all golfers, not just tournament playrs. (which is sort of a copout answer - but passable) At least they acknowledged the situation.

The USGA didn't even understand the question and we had to go back and forth a few times so they could understand the question. It has apparently never crossed their mind - so the answer I received was that it isn't against the rules. (now THERE'S a copout answer)

I have also sent the question to the LPGA, but haven't gotten a response back...and don't expect one, since many of their top players use their caddies as well.

It seems that the Tours would have to make it their own rule to stop players from getting this kind of help.

Seems a little embarrassing to me to need help deciding which direction you're pointing.

Barry Rhodes said...

Great comment Courtgolf. I do agree with your position on this.

I suspect that you are against the use of distance measuring devices in competition as well!


Anonymous said...

Actually, I would have no problem with a straight laser range finder - nothing with elevation changes - anything to speed up play.

The Adams Tight Lies tour started using them a few years back and they were saving almost 15 minutes per group.

I don't understand why the tours don't at least laser the par threes each day.

Watching these guys take 5 minutes to do simple math his like watching paint dry.

Unknown said...

What you both forget is that there is a long held tradition that caddies are a team and really an extension of the player. Anyone can have one so it is not unfair. Golf is a team sport.