GOLFERS REQUIRING CANES OR CRUTCHES

Definition of “Stance”

The use of assistive devices raises the question of what constitutes taking the stance. This is a critical element in determining relief from an immovable obstruction (Rule 24-2) and abnormal ground conditions (Rule 25-1) and whether a player is subject to penalty if his ball moves prior to his making a stroke. The following Definition is recommended:



Stance
Taking the “stance” consists in a player who is using an assistive device placing the device and, if applicable, his feet in position for and preparatory to making a stroke. The assistive device is deemed to be part of the player’s stance.





Rule 6-4 (Caddie)

By analogy to Decision 6-4/4.5, someone, including another caddie or player, who assists a player with the retrieval of his ball is not acting as the player’s caddie. Such an act does not constitute a breach of Rule 6-4, which prohibits a player from having more than one caddie at any one time.





Rule 13-2 (Improving Lie, Area of Intended Stance or Swing, or Line of Play)

The interpretation of what constitutes a player “fairly taking his stance” is one of the most difficult judgement calls in golf. Whereas most of the Rules are objective, this Rule is highly subjective. Decision 13-2/1 (Explanation of “Fairly Taking His Stance”) lends some clarification to this phrase, but significant grey areas remain.


The disabled golfer who is using an assistive device is entitled to bend or even break the branches of a tree or bush in order to fairly take his stance. However, he may not use the device to deliberately hold back branches that would otherwise interfere with the area of his intended stance or swing, or line of play. There is not, nor will there probably ever be, a substitute for the judgement required to interpret this Rule.





Rule 13-3 (Building Stance)

The use of assistive devices by disabled golfers does not constitute building a stance within the meaning of the term in Rule 13-3. Another issue relating to this Rule concerns the following query: If a player builds a stance so that his supporting crutch does not slip during the swing, is he in breach of this Rule?


This is an interesting question, because the answer is also dependent on the concept of “fairly taking his stance” (Rule 13-2).


A player who “builds a stance” by creating a raised mound of soil against which he braces his crutch would be in breach of Rule 13-3 for building a stance. However, a certain amount of “digging in” with the feet is permitted. By analogy, this would allow for some “digging in” with an assistive device in an effort to prevent slipping, but there is a point beyond which the player would be in breach of “fairly taking his stance.” As noted in the discussion of Rule 13-2 above, this is a very subjective determination that the Committee must make after considering all of the circumstances.

 



Rule 13-4a (Testing the Condition of the Hazard) and Rule 13-4b (Touching the Ground in the Hazard)



Decision 13-4/0.5 clarifies that a player may not gain additional information about the condition of a hazard through actions other than those that are necessary to allow him to reach his ball and take his stance. Therefore, a player who enters a hazard with canes or crutches would not be in breach of Rules 13-4a or 13-4b, provided his actions are not intended to test the condition of the hazard.





Rule 14-2a (Assistance)

Prior to the stroke, it is permissible for a disabled golfer to accept physical assistance from anyone for the purpose of positioning himself or any assistive device that he is using. The provisions of this Rule apply only while the player is making a stroke.





Rule 14-3 (Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Unusual Use of Equipment)

Assistive devices are considered artificial devices or unusual equipment under Rule 14-3. However, a player is not in breach of Rule 14-3 if (a) the device is designed for or has the effect of alleviating a medical condition, (b) the player has a legitimate medical reason to use the device, and (c) the Committee is satisfied that its use does not give the player any undue advantage over other players.





Rule 16-1e (Standing Astride or on Line of Putt)

In view of the proposed Definition of “Stance,” it is recommended that Rule 16-1e be modified to read:



e. STANDING ASTRIDE OR ON LINE OF PUTT
The player must not make a stroke on the putting green from a stance astride, or with either foot or any assistive device touching, the line of putt or an extension of that line behind the ball.
Exception: There is no penalty if the stance is inadvertently taken on or astride the line of putt (or an extension of that line behind the ball) or is taken to avoid standing on another player’s line of putt or prospective line of putt.  





Rule 20-1 (Lifting and Marking)

See same entry under Golfers Requiring Wheelchairs.



Rule 22 (Ball Assisting or Interfering with Play)

See same entry under Golfers Requiring Wheelchairs.



Rule 24-2 (Immovable Obstruction) and Rule 25-1 (Abnormal Ground Conditions)

The amended Definition of “Stance” would entitle a player to relief from an immovable obstruction or an abnormal ground condition if, in fairly taking his stance, the obstruction or the abnormal ground condition interfered with the positioning of his assistive device. However, the Exceptions under Rules 24 and 25 would preclude relief for a player who has interference from these conditions as a result of placing his assistive device in an unnecessarily abnormal position for the required shot or using an unnecessarily abnormal direction of play.





Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable)

It is a fact that one able-bodied golfer may attempt and successfully execute a stroke with a ball that another able-bodied golfer may have deemed unplayable. It is also a fact that the disabled golfer who requires the use of canes, crutches or any other type of assistive device may occasionally be unable to make a stroke at a ball that the able-bodied golfer could play. For example, a player using crutches may need to deem a ball that lies on a steep slope of wet grass unplayable in an effort to eliminate the possibility of injury from a fall. However, this situation is not any different than a case where the balls of two able-bodied golfers lie on a gravel cart path, that has been declared an integral part of the course, and one player makes the stroke and the other player deems his ball unplayable, thus obviating any chance of an injury from flying gravel.

 
One might argue that because the situations noted above are potentially dangerous, Decision 1-4/10 (Dangerous Situation; Rattlesnake or Bees Interfere with Play) should apply, and the player should be entitled to free relief as prescribed by that Decision. While the situations described in the preceding paragraph are potentially dangerous they are not analogous to the circumstances contemplated or the answer offered in Decision 1-4/10. That Decision concerns the player who encounters a dangerous situation that is both totally out of his control and unrelated to the normal playing of the game (see Decision 1-4/11). Additionally, it presupposes that the player’s ball is in a playable position. If this were not the case, the player would have to proceed under the unplayable ball rule incurring a penalty stroke, rather than obtaining free relief as prescribed by the Decision.

 
Ultimately, all players must exercise their best judgement in determining whether they are placing themselves at risk by making a particular stroke. If they are, then their best option may be to deem the ball unplayable. Rule 28 must govern in these situations. Providing relief without penalty in any instance in which there may be a potential for injury will create an unmanageable situation ripe with the potential for abuse.




Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
Chevron
   

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.


Chevron image
Rolex
   

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.



Rolex image
IBM
   

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image
Lexus
   

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express
   

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment


AmEx image