Rules Guy: Can I use the flagstick’s shadow as an alignment aid?

Flagstick shadow

Sometimes, the flagstick's shadow can be your friend. But is it legal to use it?

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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 had a four-foot putt exactly on the line of the flagstick’s shadow, so I left the pin in and made the putt. My playing partner called foul. I know the USGA changed the rule so that it’s the player’s choice whether to leave the stick in or out, but does that still hold when using its shadow as a beacon? —Guy Sykes, via e-mail

As Rules Guy often reminds people at cocktail parties, cotillions and bar mitzvahs, the Rules are there to guide us, not hinder us. They are, indeed, a beacon themselves.

The sun is out, and a shadow leads the way? To mix a metaphor, the stars have aligned! It’s perfectly legal! (And lucky for you it was a straight putt.)

Got a rules question? Of course you do! Whatever it may be, send yours to and the question may be answered in an upcoming issue of GOLF. Until then, play by the Rules!

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