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:
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 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.
Quick PSA-if you’re a golfer, please read and know the rules. PLEASE!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
— Christina Kim (@TheChristinaKim) November 1, 2019
Then the amateurs are doing it wrong. The rule states to declare infractions, not warn. And I approached an official after we putted on that hole and they needed to confer to give me a direct answer if jt was an infraction. So yes, I waited. Because I wanted confirmation. https://t.co/srgbSZVWfc
— Christina Kim (@TheChristinaKim) November 4, 2019
Some links on the topic:
- A piece by Beth Ann Baldry that doesn’t make much clear and gets some of the facts wrong about when Christina reported the issue.
- An opinion piece by Geoff Shackelford (with which I agree), which includes this: “Christina Kim witnessed what used to be known as blatant cheating — a player asking a caddie for another golfer what club they hit. She reported it after the round, the LPGA ruled correctly and now two players have missed out on getting their cards. One deservedly, one not.”
- Another Shackelford piece (this one is about backstopping).
- This piece focuses more on Dewi Weber (she shot 82 in the final round to fall out of contention for an LPGA Card).
- Christina Kim still defending herself on Twitter.
- Another article that focuses mostly on Christina.
- Christina Kim’s Twitter account.