It helps to know where others stand
While the latest drama on the pro tours regarding Rule 10.2b(4), known as the “alignment rule,” is certainly worthy of the USGA's immediate review, let's hope that officials also examine this same rule regarding another sea of drama certain to arise when amateur tournaments begin across the U.S. this spring.
The potential for arguments and accusations has only just begun.
Missed in the conversation thus far is the fact that this new rule applies not only to players with caddies but also to partners in a team event.
Three amateur players watching the break of a putt from behind their teammate in a four-man scramble? That’s now illegal under Rule 10.2b(4).
One player standing behind another in an amateur better-ball tournament, even if he doesn’t ask his partner how his alignment looks? Also now illegal under Rule 10.2b(4).
The prohibition against standing behind a player in the process of setting up to and making a stroke applies to a player’s caddie, to any partner in a team event, and to the caddie of any partner in a team event.
So expect this type of drama: "Hey, I saw Bob's team from two fairways over, and it sure did look like they were watching Pete putt from behind his ball.”
Golf needs fewer arguments, not more. The USGA needs to make Rule 10.2b(4) about a clear intent to help align a player's body or clubface. It shouldn't matter in the least where anyone stands.
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