2019 rules changes to know: How much your caddie can help on the greens

December 15, 2018
golf caddie rules

On Jan. 1, more than 30 changes to the Rules of Golf — some small, others significant — will take effect. To get you ready, this holiday season GOLF.com is rolling out a series, “The 12 Days of Rules Changes,” to ensure you always play by the rules, starting with your opening round of the year.

The Topic: How much a caddie can help on the green

So you’ve reached the green, which means you can mark your ball, clean it and get ready to putt. There are all kinds of rules governing the green, though. Where can your caddie help out? Basically everywhere, and they don’t need your authorization to do so.

The Old Rule: Caddies are only allowed to mark and lift a player’s ball only once they have been authorized to do so by the player.

The New Rule: Caddies can mark a player’s ball, and do so without needing authorization. Caddies can even go so far as to replace the ball on the green IF they were the one who marked it.

Why It Was Changed: Proper reasoning didn’t exist. The USGA was keen to note “there is no compelling reason” that should keep a caddie from these “purely mechanical acts” on the green.

Will It Be Controversial? It shouldn’t be! The caddie is there to assist with play, and this does exactly that. It’s not like they’re out there hitting the putts. No harm, no foul.

How It Can Help You: Pace of play can improve if the caddie is the first to reach the ball/green. Players no longer need to verbalize who has the authority to mark and lift their ball.