USGA, R&A clarify new rule on caddie alignment after controversies

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

USGA, R&A clarify new rule on caddie alignment after controversies

Euro Tour

USGA, R&A clarify new rule on caddie alignment after controversies

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Responding to recent tournament fiascos in Dubai and Scottsdale and just hours before the start of a joint European Tour/LPGA event in Australia, the USGA and R&A have clarified the troublesome Rule 10.2b(4) that was designed under new Rules of Golf to eliminate caddie alignment of players.

The clarifications should protect players, caddies and rule officials from situations similar to recent episodes involving penalized golfers Haotong Li (Dubai Desert Classic) and Denny McCarthy (Waste Management Phoenix Open). McCarthy’s penalty was subsequently rescinded after an outcry over how the rule could be interpreted and pressure from the PGA Tour for a clarification.

The rule will now allow a player to back off to “reset” a shot on both fairways and greens, one of the key areas of confusion under the previous language. The first joint clarification:

• 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.

Li was assessed a two-shot penalty in the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic when caddie Mike Burrow was judged to have lined him up on the final green. The infringement cost Li $98,000, and dropped him from joint third to T12.

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