Cape Town - The R&A and USGA have announced they will
provide "necessary clarifications" to the new rule prohibiting caddies
from helping players with alignment.
The two-shot penalties handed out to Haotong Li in Dubai and Denny
McCarthy in Phoenix were subject to widespread criticism in the press
and on social media from fans and players alike.
Many are of the opinion that the interpretation of the rule, which
came into effect on January 1, needs to be clarified so that players can
be absolutely certain when they are transgressing it.
On paper, the new rule states that caddies cannot stand directly
behind their players "when a player begins taking a stance for the
stroke and until the stroke is made". A player can avoid a penalty by
backing away and starting their shot process again, unless they are on
In Li's case, he was given a two-shot penalty in Dubai last week when
he began to take his stance over a short birdie putt just before his
caddie moved to one side.
Over on the PGA Tour last week, McCarthy was also hit with a two-shot
deduction after his caddie was seen standing behind him as he went
through his practice swings.
His punishment was rescinded a day later after consultations with the
games governing bodies, however, after it was decided he had taken a
stance only for his practice routine rather than the actual shot.
Following all this drama, the R&A and USGA released a
joint-statement announcing that the description of the rule will be
altered and made clearer for officials to determine when to impose a
The statement read: "Following an ongoing dialogue with players and
in co-operation with the PGA Tour rules team, The R&A and the USGA
revisited the penalty assessed to Denny McCarthy during round two of the Phoenix Open.
"After an additional review of available video, it was determined
that the penalty would not apply in this instance nor in a similar
instance involving Justin Thomas.
"In each of these cases, when the caddie was standing behind the
player, the player had not yet begun taking the stance for the stroke,
nor could useful guidance on aiming be given because the player was
still in the process of determining how to play the stroke. The same
would be true for any similar situation that might occur.
"The R&A and the USGA recognise that clarity on how to
appropriately apply this Rule is needed. We are committed to assessing
its impact and will provide the necessary clarifications in the coming