Six weeks after the start of the year and the new rules of golf are changing for the first time, that of the caddies behind their players.
The two governing bodies of Golf Wednesday issued a clarification on the rule to prevent caddies to help their players take advantage.
The rule now states that a penalty of two strokes for his caddy who stands behind him can be avoided if a player moves away from his position and starts again anywhere on the golf course. Previously, the penalty could only be avoided on the green.
The rule also states that caddies will not break the rule if they are not aware that their players are intervening to take a stand.
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"Experience has taught us that the introduction of a new rule requires us to reconcile patience and a willingness to act quickly when necessary," said Thomas Pagel, chief executive of the governance for the USGA.
This enlightenment was a quick response to a two-stroke penalty imposed on Denny McCarthy at the Phoenix Open, which was later canceled so the rule could be studied. The McCarthy incident followed another case that occurred a week earlier in Li Haotong in Dubai.
Rule 10.2b was created because of longstanding criticisms that caddies were helping to align players with shots. The rule stated that cadets could not deliberately stand behind their players as they began to take positions until the stroke was hit.
Li's younger brother was behind him on the 18th green in Dubai when Li entered to take his place. He was penalized with two strokes, which allowed him to go from a tie for third place to a tie for the 12th and the R & A supported the decision as it followed the letter of the rule.
McCarthy's case was more complicated. He faced a 70-yard shot over the water and carelessly raised the ball club while his younger brother was standing behind him. Even though McCarthy pulled back to take his position, he was first penalized because it did not happen on the green.
Once the PGA circuit noticed several other examples that could be cited, he took the penalty for further study.
By clarifying what is deliberate, the USGA and R & A have allowed exceptions when it is obvious that the player is not trying to gain a benefit.
Examples cited by the USGA and R & A include a shopping cart that raked a bunker and was in a direct line behind the player; and a cadet standing behind as the player approaches to tap a putt. It also states that cadets can stand behind a player while holding an umbrella until it's time to hit.
By clarification, cadets can line up their players to ensure that their club will not hit a tree or that their feet are not on a road.
The new rule was indeed immediate.