May a Player Ask for Advice or Help During a Round of Golf?

Asking for Advice or Help During a Round of Golf

I recently received the following question:

‘I was out with a Junior and her Dad in a Medal Comp .
On one hole she asked her dad if she should use her 6 iron and I immediately told her she cannot ask him any questions like this during a round of golf of in which he was not paired with her or working as her caddy ? I did not see if he then gave any visible indication (a nod or similar) as I went to play my ball

On another hole, played over water, the parent reminded her to take account of the wind.

When I have looked at this I found the following old ruling and would ask if this is still a ruling now following various changes ?

“The following ten questions and statements, do incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, for the player asking for, or giving the advice:
“Do you think that an 8-iron will get me to the green?”
“Am I swinging too fast?”
“I think that this putt is dead straight, what do you think?”
“Should I try and play this ball out of the water hazard or take a penalty drop?”
“That was my 7-wood, what are you going to use?”
“Keep your head still as you putt.”
“You haven’t really got a shot; if I were you I’d declare your ball unplayable.”
“The wind is against us, you need at least one extra club.”
“Don’t use your driver here or you may end up in the water hazard.”

Finally, there is one statement that many of us regularly use but probably shouldn’t if the Rule on Advice is very strictly interpreted. When a fellow competitor’s putt just lips out and he goes charging up to the hole to tap it in we should try and refrain from saying ……….… “Take your time”’

Firstly, we have the definition of Advice under the Rules of Golf 2019:

Advice
Any verbal comment or action (such as showing what club was just used to make a stroke) that is intended to influence a player in:
• Choosing a club,
• Making a stroke, or
• Deciding how to play during a hole or round.
But advice does not include public information, such as:
• The location of things on the course such as the hole, the putting green, the fairway, penalty areas, bunkers, or another player’s ball,
• The distance from one point to another, or
• The Rules.

Interpretation Advice/1 – Verbal Comments or Actions That Are Advice
Examples of when comments or actions are considered advice and are not allowed include:
• A player makes a statement regarding club selection that was intended to be overheard by another player who had a similar stroke.
• In individual stroke play, Player A, who has just holed out on the 7th hole, demonstrates to Player B, whose ball was just off the putting green, how to make the next stroke. Because Player B has not completed the hole, Player A gets the penalty on the 7th hole. But, if both Player A and Player B had completed the 7th hole, Player A gets the penalty on the 8th hole.
• A player’s ball is lying badly and the player is deliberating what action to take. Another player comments, “You have no shot at all. If I were you, I would decide to take unplayable ball relief.” This comment is advice because it could have influenced the player in deciding how to play during a hole.
• While a player is setting up to hit his or her shot over a large penalty area filled with water, another player in the group comments, “You know the wind is in your face and it’s 250 yards to carry that water?”

Interpretation Advice/2 – Verbal Comments or Actions That Are Not Advice
Examples of comments or actions that are not advice include:
• During play of the 6th hole, a player asks another player what club he or she used on the 4th hole that is a par-3 of similar length.
• A player makes a second stroke that lands on the putting green. Another player does likewise. The first player then asks the second player what club was used for the second stroke.
• After making a stroke, a player says, “I should have used a 5-iron” to another player in the group that has yet to play onto the green, but not intending to influence his or her play.
• A player looks into another player’s bag to determine which club he or she used for the last stroke without touching or moving anything.
• While lining up a putt, a player mistakenly seeks advice from another player’s caddie, believing that caddie to be the player’s caddie. The player immediately realizes the mistake and tells the other caddie not to answer.

Secondly, we have the Rule of Golf itself, Rule 10.2 which deals with the limits to the advice or help a player may get during a round and who may give it.

Rule 10.2: Purpose: A fundamental challenge for the player is deciding the strategy and tactics for his or her play. So there are limits to the advice and other help the player may get during a round.
a.
Advice
During a round, a player must not:
• Give advice to anyone in the competition who is playing on the course,
• Ask anyone for advice, other than the player’s caddie, or
• Touch another player’s equipment to learn information that would be advice if given by or asked of the other player (such as touching the other player’s clubs or bag to see what club is being used).
This does not apply before a round, while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a or between rounds in a competition.
See Rules 22, 23 and 24 (in forms of play involving partners, a player may give advice to his or her partner or the partner’s caddie and may ask the partner or partner’s caddie for advice).
b.
Other Help
(1) Pointing Out Line of Play for Ball Anywhere Except on Putting Green. A player may have his or her line of play pointed out by:
• Having his or her caddie or any other person stand on or close to the player’s line of play to show where it is, but that person must move away before the stroke is made.
• Having an object (such as a bag or towel) set down on the course to show the line of play, but the object must be removed before the stroke is made.
(2) Pointing Out Line of Play for Ball on Putting Green. Before the stroke is made, only the player and his or her caddie may point out the player’s line of play, but with these limitations:
• The player or caddie may touch the putting green with a hand, foot or anything he or she is holding, but must not improve the conditions affecting the stroke in breach of Rule 8.1a, and
• The player or caddie must not set an object down anywhere on or off the putting green to show the line of play. This is not allowed even if that object is removed before the stroke is made.
While the stroke is being made, the caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to the player’s line of play or do anything else (such as pointing out a spot or creating a shadow on the putting green) to point out the line of play.
Exception – Caddie Attending Flagstick: The caddie may stand in a location on or close to the player’s line of play to attend the flagstick.
(3) No Setting Down Object to Help in Taking Stance. A player must not take a stance for the stroke using any object that was set down by or for the player to help in lining up his or her feet or body, such as a club set down on the ground to show the line of play.
If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away from the stance and removing the object.
(4) Restriction on Caddie Standing Behind Player. 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 an extension of the 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.

See Rules 22, 23 and 24 (in forms of play involving partners, a player’s partner and the partner’s caddie may take the same actions (with the same limitations) as the player’s caddie may take under Rules 10.2b(2) and (4)).
(5) Physical Help and Protection from Elements. A player must not make a stroke:
• While getting physical help from his or her caddie or any other person, or
• With his or her caddie or any other person or object deliberately positioned to give protection from sunlight, rain, wind or other elements.
Before the stroke is made, such help or protection is allowed, except as prohibited in Rules 10.2b(3) and (4).
This Rule does not prohibit the player from taking his or her own actions to protect against the elements while making a stroke, such as by wearing protective clothing or holding an umbrella over his or her own head.

Penalty for Breach of Rule 10.2: General Penalty.

Taking what the correspondent described, I am assuming that the Girl and her Dad were competing in the same competition as fellow competitors and not partners, if so, this will be interpreted as:

1. ‘On one hole she asked her dad if she should use her 6 iron’. General penalty of 2 strokes to the Girl for asking for advice.

2. ‘I did not see if he then gave any visible indication (a nod or similar)’. If he did then he would receive 2 penalty strokes for giving advice.

3. ‘On another hole the parent reminded her to take account of the wind’. Parent receives 2 stroke penalty for giving advice. The Girl does not get a penalty because she did not ask for it, however she must endeavour to stop her Dad from offering advice, otherwise she is regarded as having asked for the advice and receives a 2-stroke penalty each time. Difficult for her at her age and it being her Dad giving the unsolicited advice, but Rules are rules, especially in competitions where you are competing against other players.

( I have also been made aware of Dads lining their children’s putts for them, which again carries the General Penalty if they are not playing partners or acting as caddies)

Note Rules of Golf Interpretation 10.2a/2

Player Must Try to Stop Ongoing Advice that Is Given Voluntarily
If a player gets advice from someone other than his or her caddie (such as a spectator) without asking for it, he or she gets no penalty. However, if the player continues to get advice from that same person, the player must try to stop that person from giving advice. If the player does not do so, he or she is treated as asking for that advice and gets the penalty under Rule 10.2a.
In a team competition (Rule 24), this also applies to a player who gets advice from a team captain who has not been named an advice giver.

With the following:

However, the following ten questions and statements, do incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, for the player asking for, or giving the advice:
“Do you think that an 8-iron will get me to the green?”
“Am I swinging too fast?”
“I think that this putt is dead straight, what do you think?”
“Should I try and play this ball out of the water hazard or take a penalty drop?”
“That was my 7-wood, what are you going to use?”
“Keep your head still as you putt.”
“You haven’t really got a shot; if I were you I’d declare your ball unplayable.”
“The wind is against us, you need at least one extra club.”
“Don’t use your driver here or you may end up in the water hazard.”

The answer is yes, the General Penalty would apply to either the player giving the advice or the player asking for it.

The same is true for:

Finally, there is one statement that many of us regularly use but probably shouldn’t if the Rule on Advice is very strictly interpreted. When a fellow competitor’s putt just lips out and he goes charging up to the hole to tap it in we should try and refrain from saying ……….… “Take your time”

Otherwise someone could have stopped Rory, in the first round of the Open 2019, rushing his tap-in putt and he would have been there, playing on the weekend.

A final point is that if this ‘giving or asking for advice situation’ continues during a round then the players should be disqualified from the competition and if their actions persist into other competitions, then the Committee would have every right to suspend them from entering competitions for a period of time determined by the Committee. They would obviously require third-party evidence of this happening.

I know this is a little long-winded, but I hope it clarifies the situation of asking for or giving advice from a player, other than a playing partner

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Rules Blog: www.my-golf.uk

2 Replies to “May a Player Ask for Advice or Help During a Round of Golf?”

  1. On our course, I hear the words ‘take a provisional’, ‘take another’, ‘play another’, after a player plays a wayward tee shot. It is probably good practise on our course, where many balls are lost into woods etc., but are those phrases advice?

    1. I would consider the phrases as being helpful advice, but not ones that carry a penalty.

      Do not forget that the player, if playing a provisional ball, must announce the fact that s/he is playing a provisional ball, by using the word provisional or that they are playing a ball under Rule 18.3. If they do not, the ball being played becomes the ball in play and the original ball is lost and must not be played.

      Everything hinges on the definition of Advice which, according to the R&A and USGA, is:

      Any verbal comment or action (such as showing what club was just used to make a stroke) that is intended to influence a player in:
      • Choosing a club
      • Making a Stroke, or
      • Deciding how to play a hole or a round.
      But advice does not include public information, such as:
      • The location of things on the course such as the hole, the putting green, the fairway, penalty areas, bunkers or another player’s ball.
      • The distance from one point to another, or
      • The Rules.

      I would regard the comments that you have mentioned as advising a player on the options s/he has under the Rules of Golf when a ball could be considered difficult to find, lost or out of bounds.

      They would be considered as being good etiquette and playing in the spirit of the game, while also helping in the pace of play.

      The comments should not be considered as an intention to influence a player in playing the hole or her/his ball If, and when, found and so no penalty would be incurred by either player.

      Tony

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *