[PHOTO: Alan Thornton]

Most golfers know that a player is responsible for the actions of his or her caddie, including times when the caddie does things that run counter to the Rules of Golf. It’s a team thing (Rule 10.3) as amateur Segundo Oliva Pinto learned painfully when he was bounced in the third round at the 2020 U.S. Amateur after his caddie mistakenly swiped sand in a bunker with his hand.

But what happens when someone else helps you out during the round? For example, what if you see someone pick up your ball out of the rough to identify it, and when the ball is replaced, the lie is improved? Or what if you ask someone to move a loose impediment next to your ball and the ball moves as a result? Another common situation is when a spectator scoops up a ball during a tournament, and when the ball is put back where it originally came to rest, it’s done in a manner that gives the player an advantage. This sort of happened to Nelly Korda at the 2022 Amudi Evian Championship.

‘SHE’S IN BIG TROUBLE NOW’: Watch a fan pick up Nelly Korda’s ball and scramble to put it back

The rules are very clear when it comes to instances when the actions of another person breach a rule for you. It doesn’t matter who the person is, the key is whether you are aware of the rules violation before continuing play.

Rule 1.3c covers this topic: “A penalty applies when another person takes an action that would breach the rules if taken by the player or caddie, and that person does so at the player’s request or while acting with the player’s authority.

“Or the player sees another person about to take an action concerning the player’s ball or equipment that he or she knows would breach the rules if taken by the player or caddie, and does not take reasonable steps to object or stop it from happening.”

In short, if you see someone about to do something to your ball or clubs that would be a rules violation for you if you did it, and you don’t do anything about it, it’s as if you committed the penalty. So when you see someone about to foot-wedge your ball back into the fairway, you’d better stop them.


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Crazy things that only happen in matchplay

Can you hit a provisional ball after hitting a shot into a penalty area?

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Can I move a stone if it improves my lie?

Are you smart enough to ace this basic rules quiz?

Do I get relief from aeration holes?

What does ‘known or virtually certain’ really mean?

Do you have to use a putter on the green?

You’re playing a Srixon. Two holes later it’s a Callaway. Is switching golf balls mid-round allowed?

I hit a horrible shot. I’m waaaaaay better off if I don’t find the ball. Can I just declare it lost?

I’m on the green, my opponent is not. Who’s away?

Is sneaking a peek in another player’s bag considered getting advice?

What do I do if my golf ball is stuck in a tree?

I conceded a putt. My opponent putted anyway and missed. Is that a penalty?

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I thought my ball was lost and put another in play then found my first ball… which ball counts?

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How long can I take to hit a shot?

Does a ball have to be unplayable to declare it unplayable?