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Explaining the ‘advice’ rule at the center of the explosive LPGA Q-School rules controversy

November 4, 2019

“Quick PSA— if you’re a golfer, please read and know the rules. PLEASE!”

With that plaintive Twitter post, late last week, the veteran LPGA pro Christina Kim set social media ablaze with questions.

For starters, what’s a PSA?

Answer: It’s public service announcement.

Also: Were there any rules, in particular, that Kim had in mind?

Answer: Indeed there were.

Turned out her post was prompted by an incident that took place at Thursday’s Q-Series event at Pinehurst No. 9, where, on the par-3 17th hole, one of Kim’s playing partners, Kendall Dye, motioned to the caddie of the third player in the group, Jacqueline Schram, asking which club Schram had hit.

Shram’s caddie reportedly supplied the information.

Under the Rules of Golf, both actions are a no-no, and Kim knew it.

That she waited 10 holes to alert the players and a rules official opened her to a storm of Twitter rage.

Why the lag? Why be such a hater?

But since people are always enraged on Twitter, let’s ignore their fury and focus instead on Kim’s original post.

As a public service announcement, let’s make sure we understand the rules.

For that, we turn to section 10.2 of the Rules of Golf, which addresses “advice and other help.”

One important thing to know is that you can ask your caddie pretty much anything. How is your day going? What did you think of the new Tarantino movie? Which club do you think I should hit?

All of that is fair game. We even recommend it, because the more information you get from your caddie, the more justified you are in blaming them when something goes wrong. It’s all about deniability, right?

What you can’t do is ask anyone else for advice, through words or hand signals or any other means of communication.

Nor can you give advice to anyone in the competition who is playing the course.

A violation of these rules carries a two-stroke penalty (that’s the punishment Schram and Dye received), or, in match-play, a loss of hole.

If you’re really keen on knowing which club your opponent hit, there is a legal way to glean that information: you can peek into their bag.

But eyes only.

Just like in museums, fancy jewelry stores and certain disreputable entertainment venues, you can look but you can’t touch. No fiddling with the clubs. No removing a towel for a better view.

And no hand signals.

Get it? Got it?