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Here is an interesting situation that I am told is representative of an increasingly common occurrence, especially in junior golf competitions. A doting mother was following the progress of her child prodigy son around the course and had noticed that he was lifting his club too steeply on his takeaway. On the next teeing ground she pulled him aside and told him what she thought that he was doing wrong on his backswing. He said nothing and carried on with his game. Two holes later she again called him over and told him that now he was not transferring his weight at the top of his backswing. I will return to whether the player incurred a penalty, or not, later in this blog.
Interestingly, the International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT) publishes a spectator Code of Conduct, which includes this clause;
4. Do not give advice to any player. "Advice is any counsel or suggestion which could influence a player in determining his play, choice of club or method of making a stroke." Penalty for breach of this rule is two-strokes on the player (USGA Rule 8-1). Talking to competitors during tournament play is not allowed and can be construed as giving advice. (My bolding)So, apart from the Definition of Advice included in the above clause, what do the Rules say about advice? Rule 8-1, Advice, states;
During a stipulated round, a player must not:Returning to the scenario that I started with, it may be argued that the young player in the situation above had not asked for advice from his mother, but Decision 8-1/24 shows us that the player can incur a penalty without asking for advice, if they fail to take a positive action to stop the advice being given;
a. give advice to anyone in the competition playing on the course other than his partner, or
b. ask for advice from anyone other than his partner or either of their caddies.
Q. A team competition is being played, and in the conditions the Committee has not authorized captains or coaches to give advice under the Note to Rule 8. A non-playing coach or captain gives advice during a round to one of the members of his team. What is the ruling?So, Rule 8-1 prohibits a player from asking for advice from a spectator, but does not prohibit a player from receiving unsolicited advice, because the player is not in a position to control such an act. However, once a spectator has offered unsolicited advice the player must take an action to prevent it from happening again. If they do not, they risk incurring a penalty for a breach of the Rule. One can imagine a situation whereby a particularly stubborn spectator (parent!) might continue to offer advice, but providing the player makes their best effort to stop it happening, it would be extremely harsh for them to be penalised for it.
A. There is no penalty. However, the player should take action to stop this irregular procedure. If he does not do so, he should, in equity (Rule 1-4), incur a penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play in view of the purpose of Rule 8-1.
Advice does not have to be spoken. Actions can constitute advice. For example, if someone holds up a number of fingers indicating the club that they recommend the player should use, it is the same as if they had spoken the number when assessing whether a penalty has been incurred, or not.
The two main points to remember from the above is that players must not initiate any communication that leads to advice being received from an outside agent and that they should try and stop any unsolicited advice being offered to them.
My thanks to those of you that have bought my eBook, '999 Updated Questions on the Rules of Golf', through Amazon; it has helped me make their US top 100 golf books list again. However, if you purchase from my 'Rhodes Rules School' web site, I will send you, not only the Mobipocket eBook file for eReaders, tablets, notebooks and smart phones, but also a .pdf file so that you can print out any sections that you want on any computer.
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