Can a caddy use the shadow of the flagstick to help a player read a putt?

Can a caddy use the shadow of the flagstick to help a player read a putt?

What do the rules say about a caddy casting an intentional shadow on the green for their player?

Getty Images

The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

I’m a caddy. On a recent loop, my guys were atrocious putters — they never hit the line I gave them. On the last hole, one of them had a six-footer that needed to start on the left edge. I pulled the pin and held it up in the air so that its shadow made a line from his ball to the left edge of the hole. He sank the putt while I was holding the shadow on that line. Assuming this isn’t legal, what if I take the shadow away just before the golfer putts the ball?
—Maddox Miller-Jones, via email

Maddox, you are right to be afraid of your own shadow, as having the player putt while the shadow’s still in place would be a breach of Rule 10.2b(2), which pertains to advice and other help. It gets your man the general penalty of two strokes in stroke play and loss of hole in match play.

That said, using the shadow to point out the line before the stroke is made is okay — actually, it’s more than okay, it’s downright ingenious. Give yourself a big tip.

Paul Casey tosses ball

Rules Guy: Can a caddy replace a ball after it’s been marked by the player?


Rules Guy

For more caddy-related guidance from our guru, read on …

On my home course, a friend and I are each playing a singles match in the same foursome against other opponents. If my friend labels me his caddy at the start of the round, can I give him advice during his match, even though I’m playing my own match concurrently? We will be riding, so I definitely won’t be carrying his clubs.
—Kevin Woods, Belmont, Calif.

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” Polonius advises his son Laertes in Hamlet.

In his unpublished play Golf and the Man*, Shakespeare writes, “Either a golfer or a caddie be.” And as we know, the Bard knew his stuff, on and off the course.

Can you legally multitask as both competitor and looper? Verily, you cannot. The player would be penalized the general penalty under Rule 10.2a each time he asked your considered opinion. Remember, “Always the wrong person gives you the right lesson in life.”**

* Please, scholars, save your letters and e-mails: This is pure malarkey.
** This is indeed Shakespeare.

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from 8 AM Golf affiliate Golf Logix.

Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

generic profile image

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *