Date: September 06, 2016
Author: Tom Fee (Twitter: @thomfee)

Rules advice for Shooter McGavin

As we’re here to help you, the everyday golfer, navigate the Rules of Golf — we opened up this week’s rules corner to questions from the general public.

Interestingly, all of our questions came from just the one user, so thank-you to Shooter for taking the time to contact us!

Shooter writes;

In a recent golf tournament I was drawn in the final round with a strange golfer, let’s call him Harry. Harry could hit the ball a mile by taking a run-up prior to hitting the golf ball. Is this allowed?

While that may seem unorthodox, it is allowed. The Rules of Golf make no mention about keeping still when playing a shot, providing of course that the ball is “fairly struck”.

In fact, John Peterson utilised a similar drive during a PGA Tour event last year. Perhaps this golfer was inspired by Peterson?

In the same tournament, Harry was putting with what seemed to be an ice-hockey stick, is that legal?

Well Harry will likely be in trouble as per the USGA equipment guidelines. Most ice-hockey sticks have a face longer than 30cm while the USGA equipment rules state;

The distance from the heel to the toe of the head is less than or equal to 177.8 mm.

It’s funny you mention it, I remember Mike Weir using a hockey stick as a putter at the 2009 US Masters Par-3 contest. Why would he even do that? The things golfers do to get noticed these days!

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On occasion, Harry would get his caddy to mark the ball. Is that allowed? Does it matter that the caddy used a large cracker and then ate it?

As per Rule 20-1, a golfer is allowed to authorise someone else to mark their ball, but that player is then responsible for any breach of the rules.

While it is rather irregular behaviour, there is no rule against using a cracker as a ball marker, and there would be no penalty providing the ball had been replaced before the caddy ate the cracker.

So Harry had a rather large and intimidating, um, friend, following our group. At one point my ball came to rest on top of his shoe and his friend demanded that I play the ball as it lies. Is this correct?

I’m sorry but I think this intimidating friend has misinformed you, Shooter! Did you consider calling for a Rules Official?

Spectators are considered an Outside Agency, and as per Rule 19-1;

If a player's ball in motion after a stroke comes to rest in or on any outside agency, the ball must through the greenor in a hazard be dropped, or on the putting green be placed, as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball came to rest but not nearer the hole.

Both Harry and his caddy’s attire bothered me. He would play in a Boston Bruins hockey jersey, and at times the caddy was only wearing one shoe. Is this allowed?

Well this depends on many factors.

Assuming this is an amateur event (and it certainly sounds like one!) your partner will be in breach of the Rules of Amateur Status. Logos on ice-hockey jerseys are quite large, and Decision 16-2/15 states;

A sponsor’s logo must not exceed a perimeter of 220mm.

While it’s highly unlikely that the Boston Bruins are actually sponsoring Harry (I doubt anyone would want to, to be honest!), Rule 16-2 in the Rules of Amateur Status says;

In the context of this Rule, even if no payment or compensation is received, an amateur golfer is deemed to receive a personal benefit by promoting, selling or advertising anything.

If, for some absurd reason, your partner is a professional golfer, then this outfit may be allowed depending on that specific tour’s rules and regulations.

As for the caddy, the R&A places factors such as dress restrictions in the hands of the tournament committee, however we would imagine that wearing only one shoe would be a significant disadvantage when reading the line of a putt.

During the round, Harry received advice from another competitor, who said;

“The golf ball has its own energy or life force, if you will. Its natural environment is in the hole. Why don’t you send him home? His bags are packed. He has his plane ticket. Bring him to the airport. Send him home. Send him home.”

Is giving such advice allowed?

Now this may seem like a simple ruling, as Rule 8-1 states that;

During a stipulated round, a player must not give advice to anyone in the competition playing on the course other than his partner.

However, what is the definition of advice? The Rules of Golf say;

"Advice" is any counsel or suggestion that could influence a player in determining his play, the choice of a club or the method of making a stroke.

In reality if the above is to be considered advice, it’s pretty terrible advice. Of course Harry wants to send the ball home! In reality, this is just some hippy mumbo jumbo about getting the ball in the cup.

After receiving this advice, Harry missed the putt and went on an expletive-laced tirade about the ball being too good for its home. He even threw a flag that took out an ESPN cameraman. Is there a penalty for such behaviour?

Absolutely! Such a decision would come down to the Committee but Rule 37-7 states;

If a Committee considers that a player is guilty of a serious breach of etiquette, it may impose a penalty of disqualification.

Hang on… did you say ESPN cameraman?

If it was discovered that a colleague of mine was deliberately distracting Harry in his backswing, would any repercussions come my way?

On one hand, the Rules of Golf say that;

Distractions are a common occurrence which players must accept.

But in this case Harry is well within his rights to request this spectator be ejected from the course. If it was found out you were a co-conspirator, which is what I believe you are saying, you would indeed be in trouble as per Rule 37-7 as mentioned above.

Can I ask what is driving you to disrupt this player? It’s as simple as calling in a qualified Rules Official to address these transgressions, there is no need to stoop to his level!

Ok. But what if, instead of distracting Harry, my colleague simply ran him over with a Volkswagen on the 18th fairway?

Both of you would be arrested for a start.


Don’t worry, he was fine unfortunately. What if the Volkswagen then crashed into the TV tower, and the tower later toppled onto the green and was in the line of Larry’s putt? Is it reasonable for me to demand that he plays it as it lies?

I’m sorry but what kind of event is this? Why are players being run over with Volkswagens? Why are there TV cameras and no Rules Officials?


But he made me play a ball off a giant’s shoe! And he’s really getting in the way of my dreams of winning a Gold Jacket.

GOLD JACKET? There is no way this could have happened at an Aussie Masters! Sounds like some crazy made up tournament. Good day sir.