Player penalized when caddie didn’t move

Caddies working on the LPGA Tour seem to make a habit of standing behind their players in the fairway to help them align their players and aid them hit the ball where they want it to go. They also are quick to move away from behind them before the shot is played so as to avoid a penalty.

However, Sam Lyon wasn’t as lucky playing in quarterfinals of the 2010 U.S. Amateur Public Links at the Jimmie Austin/OU Golf Course in Norman, OK.  Lyon’s caddie helped him line up his tee shot on a par 3, but did not move away. As a result, one of the USGA rules officials serving as the referee called the penalty, the loss of the hole. That proved to be the difference as Lyons was eliminated,1 up, by Phillip Bryan, an assistant coach for the University of Oklahoma.

This is covered by Rule 8-2: “Except on the putting green, a player may have the line of play indicated by anyone, but no one may be positioned by the player on or close to the line or an extension of the line beyond the hole while the stroke is being made. Any mark placed by the player or with his knowledge to indicate the line must be removed before the stroke is played.”

Players are reminded that they can place a club on the ground parallel to the line of play to assist with alignment prior to making a stroke, but must remove it before making the stroke. Even leaving a bottle of water beside or behind the ball when making a stroke could be ruled a breach of the rule.

On the putting green, a golfer can also get his partner or their caddies to point out a line before, but not during the stroke. In doing this, the putting green can not be touched in any way.

In an interesting decision, a caddie, or a partner, attending a flagstick can not suggest before the stroke that the player aim at his left foot. The player would be penalized as soon as the caddie or partner placed his foot in that position. The breach could not be corrected by moving the foot. If the caddie did not initially place his foot for the purpose of aiming and then made the suggestion, the player could avoid a penalty by having the caddie move that foot to another position prior to the stroke. Is that clear?

It would be OK for a caddie to touch the green with a club to indicate the line if the player’s ball was off the green.

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