Two clarifications have been made to Rule 10.2b (4), which ‘ensures that aiming at the intended target is a challenge that the player must overcome alone.’
The clarification followed China’s Haotong Li being handed Li a two stroke penalty. The penalty was because he was deemed to have violated rule 10.2b – as his caddy was standing on an extension of his line of putt when he was taking his stance. However this decision was greeted with a storm of outrage from professionals, fans and even European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley and the decision was rescinded.
Golf’s governing bodies reacted with clarifications to the Rule regarding caddies lining up and standing behind players. China’s Haotong Li incurring a two stroke penalty The Rule states: “When a player begins taking a stance for the stroke and until the stroke is made, the player’s caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to the player’s line of play behind the ball for any reason. If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away.
Exception – Ball on Putting Green: When the player’s ball is on the putting green, there is no penalty under this Rule if the player backs away from the stance and does not begin to take the stance again until after the caddie has moved out of that location.” The two clarifications which are now in effect can be summarised as follows: 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. 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.
The two new clarifications today provide additional guidance for rules officials and the leeway that was demanded by Keith Pelley, who said Haotong Li’s penalty was “grossly unfair” and called on the R&A and USGA to allow discretion when applying the Rule. David Rickman, Executive Director – Governance at The R&A, said, “These clarifications are designed to improve the operation of the Rule and give the players more opportunity to avoid a breach while remaining true to the purpose of the Rule.
The message for local golfers is clear. Always be aware of the caddie’s position before taking a stance for a stroke; whether that is on the putting surface or anywhere else on the course. If they are standing in a line to the direction of the intended shot, let them know this is not allowed and wait until they move before taking your stance. They’ll soon learn! Royal Coast Review Thailand