The new rules from the USGA this year have been somewhat controversial so far this season. Specifically, the new rule regarding caddies standing behind players as they are address the ball or standing in such a way that they “preparing to hit.” Mainly, this rule is being enforced to help speed up play through all Tours.
We have seen some pretty big names get penalized for this rule so far this season, and sometimes the penalties have even come after rounds when players are already finished. Many pros have taken to social media declaring that the new rule is unfair and penalties are being overly assessed.
I think it’s funny when I read through the comments section of a pros tweet on the matter and see the average joes commenting on how the pros are acting like “big babies” or “the millionaires need to learn to follow the rules and quit complaining.” It generally seems that the general golf public agrees that the rule is being enforced fairly. I say go back and watch tapes of US AMs and Mid AMs, and you will see plenty of amateur golfers who don’t regularly use a caddie, sitting behind their ball with a caddie, going over their shot. Very easy to not put yourself in a players shoes if you haven’t been there.
What a lot of outside people don’t understand is that standing behind the player is a natural occurrence in caddying, and not just used to lineup a player. When I was caddying last year, I probably could have been given close to 100+ penalties due to standing behind a player. Standing behind a ball gives you the opportunity to visual the shot, and to see it. Standing there with the player you are seeing what they see, and ultimately helping them visual the shot they are about to hit. There’s not too many players out there, caddying or not, who stand beside their ball to visual their shot and not right behind it.
I understand the value of the rule and the issue of trying to speed up play. Slow play is a serious issue in our game, and needs to addressed, but I think the USGA has overdone this new rule of caddies standing behind players. A player didn’t get to the Tour by having a caddie line them up in junior golf, college/amateur, and probably the start of their professional careers, where most players are using fill-in caddie’s week to week and someone they don’t fully trust. The USGA should relax the penalties, as I truly believe that the players are not crossing the line of the integrity of the game.