Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Caddie and the Rules of Golf

Fluff Cowan, one of golf's most recognisable caddies
















I suspect that most readers of this blog play their golf without the luxury of a caddie to assist them during their rounds. However, for some of us there may be occasions when we might splash out when playing a ‘special’ course for the first time, or we manage to persuade a willing son, daughter or grandchild to help us carry our clubs for some extra pocket money, or we accept an offer from a friend when we are selected to play in an inter-club match. So, in this week’s blog I am going to highlight some of the Rules that apply to players who have a caddie with them during a round. This is from the Definition of a Caddie;
A “caddie” is one who assists the player in accordance with the Rules, which may include carrying or handling the player’s clubs during play.
The Rules permit a caddie to give advice to their player. This includes; information on distances, topography of the course (e.g. slope and speed of fairways and putting greens), position of the flagsticks, club selection, type of stroke to be played, line of putts and direction of play. They may also provide shelter to their player from the elements, but not while the player makes their stroke. A caddie may also give advice to their player’s partner in four-balls or foursomes.

The wording of Rule 6-1 is interesting;

The player and his caddie are responsible for knowing the Rules. During a stipulated round, for any breach of a Rule by his caddie, the player incurs the applicable penalty.
So, in match play if a caddie picks-up the ball in play of their opponent, without authorisation, their player is penalised one stroke and the ball must be replaced.
 

Here are a few other interesting rulings concerning caddies;
  • A caddie does not have the authority to make a concession, so any purported concession made by them is invalid (Decision 2-4/3.5). Remember the incident in the 2013 Solheim Cup?
  • A player may only have one caddie at a time, but there is no restriction on how many caddies a player may have during a round. So, a player may swap one caddie for another during their round (Decision 6-4/7). (Edit 12th September: I am reminded that Decision 8-1/26 rules that a player may not briefly change caddies for the purpose of receiving advice from the new caddie and would incur the general penalty for doing so).
  • There is no restriction on a caddie competing in the same competition that they are caddying in. So a player may complete their own round and then caddie for another competitor (Decision 6-4/8).
  • When one caddie is shared by more than one player, they are always deemed to be the caddie of the player whose ball is involved (Definition of Caddie).
Whilst I know that there are many professional golfers and Rules officials amongst my thousands of subscribers, I am not aware that there is any professional caddie that follows me, but would be pleased to hear from them if this is not the case. I find this surprising, as caddies make their living looking after the interests of their players on the course. I cannot recall witnessing a single incident when a caddie has stepped in to prevent their player from breaching a Rule of Golf, whereas I have blogged about several incidents in which players incurred penalties for simple breaches that should have been prevented by their caddie (e.g. Tigergate at the Masters). My strong recommendation is that all caddies should enhance their value to their players by using the spare time, which is endemic to their profession (e.g. travelling, waiting for their player to arrive, days between tournaments), to gain an improved understanding of the Rules. Purchasing my book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf 2012-2015’ from this link would be a great start!

Good golfing,





The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2013 and may not be copied without permission.

 

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did Jordan Spieth's caddy violate a flagstick rule by using it to point out the line of a put at the US Open at Chamber's bay? With all of the rules governing golf, I would think the caddy of one player that is holding the flag can not use it to improve his understanding of a lie before a putt. The other two or three players do not have that luxury because the caddy holding the flag is doing exactly that.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

I did not see the incident that you describe, but there is no penalty for a caddie pointing out a line of putt using the flagstick, providing they do not touch the surface of the putting green while doing so, and they remove the flagstick from the suggested point before the player makes their stroke, Rule 8-2b.

Barry

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

I did not see the incident that you describe, but there is no penalty for a caddie pointing out a line of putt using the flagstick, providing they do not touch the surface of the putting green while doing so and they remove the flagstick from the suggested point before the player makes their stroke, Rule 8-2b.

Barry

Unknown said...

Hi Barry, in the case of Matchplay, is a caddy directly allowed to tell the other opponent player that they have breached a rule or must it come through the golfer themself?

Barry Rhodes said...

Unknown,

Anyone may inform a player that they have breached a Rule of Golf, even an outside agency. So, in match play, a caddie may inform their player's opponent that they have incurred a penalty, but it is probably better for them to inform their player and let them handle it for reasons of tact and diplomacy!

Barry

Golf Player 888 said...

Hi Barry,

I've been unable to find the years for the US kids golf caddies to be able to caddy. Can a 13 year old have a caddy? Please answer, as I have a tournament coming up in Febuary

Barry Rhodes said...

888,

This is not a Rules of Golf question. You will have to consult the Conditions of Competition for each separate event.

Regards,

Barry