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I have noticed that when I give presentations on the Rules of Golf to Clubs one of the questions that is regularly raised is whether a player can ask for the flagstick to be attended when they are playing their ball from off the putting green. The answer is an unequivocal, Yes. Rule 17-1 states;
Before making a stroke from anywhere on the course, the player may have the flagstick attended, removed or held up to indicate the position of the hole.Of course this does not mean that players should emulate Phil Mickelson who, in January last year, on the last hole at Torrey Pines, sent his caddie, ‘Bones’ Mackay to attend the flagstick when he was still almost 90 yards from the hole. He needed an eagle to tie the Farmers Insurance Open and nearly pulled it off with a splendid pitch that landed on the sloping green and rolled back, stopping a few feet short of the hole.
Another question regularly asked is whether the person can stand anywhere in relation to the hole when attending the flagstick. The answer is that they can. Don’t listen to those that wrongly claim that the attendant must not stand behind the hole while the putt is made. However, it is good etiquette not to stand on the player’s line of putt, or an extension of that line behind the hole, or on the putting lines of any other player in the group that has still to play. Another point of etiquette to be aware of on a sunny day is to ensure that your shadow is nowhere near the hole, or any point on the player’s line of putt.
Here is a related point that many golfers may not be aware of from Rule 8-2b;
When the player's ball is on the putting green, the player, his partner or either of their caddies may, before but not during the stroke, point out a line for putting, but in so doing the putting green must not be touched. A mark must not be placed anywhere to indicate a line for putting.Decision 8-2b/2 illustrates two different circumstances where the player would be penalised. Note the subtle difference between the caddie placing his foot in order to point out the line and taking his position at the flagstick and subsequently using his foot as a guide;
Q. A player's ball lies on the putting green and his caddie attends the flagstick for him. The caddie suggests, before the stroke, that the player aim at the caddie's left foot. Is the player in breach of Rule 8-2b?It is a good practice for the person attending the flagstick to partially remove it from its anchor at the base of the hole prior to the player making a stroke. The flagstick should be rested on the base of hole-liner with care being taken not to damage the circumference of the hole. This prevents the possibility of the the flagstick becoming 'stuck' and accidentally lifting the hole-liner as the ball approaches the hole.
A. If the caddie had placed his foot in position for the purpose of pointing out the line for putting, the player was in breach of Rule 8-2b as soon as the caddie placed his foot in that position. The breach could not be corrected by the caddie subsequently moving his foot.
If the caddie did not initially place his foot in such a position for the purpose of pointing out the line for putting but subsequently suggested the player aim at his left foot, the player would be in breach of Rule 8-2b if the caddie did not move that foot to another position that does not indicate a line for putting prior to the stroke.
The same answer would apply if a player's partner attends the flagstick for him.
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