Christina Kim saw a pair of caddies ask and confirm the club selection on a par-three during the sixth round of the LPGA Tour’s Q-Series events. She notified a nearby rules official behind the green after they putted out. He was a local volunteer official, and didn’t give her an answer right away in response to her question: is this still a penalty in 2019? (It is.) He asked her if she wanted to handle it now, but with daylight fading Christina thought it best not to interrupt the rounds of the players with this, to save it for the end. After all, it was either a penalty or it wasn’t; the players couldn’t actually change anything on the course. The Committee  was consulted upon completion of the round and eventually ruled that the players would both be assessed a two-stroke penalty for breach of Rule 10.2a:

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.

This rule is pretty widely known throughout golf. Juniors know it, amateurs know it, and the pros should know it.

While it’s common practice for a caddie to signal to a television commentator what club their player is hitting, they’re supposed to do so without making it obvious or even visible to fellow players or caddies. Doing so would subject their player to the two-stroke penalty.

I won’t speak for the other Rules Geeks, but I’m saddened when tweets like this are posted:

This reeks, as Geoff Shackelford writes in the links below, of a new and distasteful culture on the pro tours about scratching people’s backs and looking out for each other. It’s a culture that seeks to keep everything inside, rather than expose and educate. Dye should have known this was a penalty, and if called out for it, should not blame the person who did so at all, especially as that person (Kim) had an obligation to do so under the Rules of Golf. And, you know, morally too, if you wish to apply “fairness” and “morals” to a silly game.

It’s disgusting to me some of the things I’ve seen said to Christina Kim on Twitter about this incident.

Some links on the topic: