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Casting a Shadow over the Line of a Putt


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In a match last week my partner was putting from about 12 feet. It was late afternoon and the breeze made the shadows of tree limbs move along the line of his putt. Instinctively, I moved a bit to put my shadow in a position where it made a solid shade and obliterated the dancing shadow of the tree.

Our opponent stopped him before he could putt and said that I was creating an unfair advantage and had to move my shadow. I moved rather than argue. But, I've always thought controlling shadows on the green was just a courtesy.

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Originally Posted by Baynative

In a match last week my partner was putting from about 12 feet. It was late afternoon and the breeze made the shadows of tree limbs move along the line of his putt. Instinctively, I moved a bit to put my shadow in a position where it made a solid shade and obliterated the dancing shadow of the tree.

Our opponent stopped him before he could putt and said that I was creating an unfair advantage and had to move my shadow. I moved rather than argue. But, I've always thought controlling shadows on the green was just a courtesy.

Unless you were indicating the line of his putt in some way (and even that is a stretch), or were on the line of his putt or a reasonable extension of it, I think you were okay.

2014 update: I was wrong right at the time, but am wrong in 2014. Skip to post #11 below for the start. My newer post #19. Read the follow-up at #20 as well.

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indeed, unless you indicate line of putt - it's not a rules violation, it's only a ettiquete question.
There was a discussion once at LPGA tournament. Player's ball was hanging on the lip of the hole and player walked up and by casting a shadow on the grass under the ball "made" the ball drop ( supossely grass reacts to shadow within 10 seconds ).

From "Decisions on Rules" :
16-2/3 Casting Shadow on Ball Overhanging Hole
Q. A player’s ball came to rest overhanging the edge of the hole. The player walked up to the hole and cast his shadow on the ball, believing that this would cause the grass to wilt and his ball to fall into the hole. Was the player in breach of Rule 1-2 (Exerting Influence on Ball) when he cast his shadow on the ball?
A. No.

If this is not breach of rule - your shadow on the putting line of your partner isn't one either

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indeed, unless you indicate line of putt - it's not a rules violation, it's only a ettiquete question.

The issue in this thread is a totally different circumstance than the one cited above. You cannot hold an umbrella over a player to keep the sun or rain off him while he is making a stroke. It is possible that intentionally casting a shadow to alter the conditions of the course while a player is

making a stroke is also a breech of the rules.
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The issue in this thread is a totally different circumstance than the one cited above. You cannot hold an umbrella over a player to keep the sun or rain off him while he is making a stroke. It is possible that intentionally casting a shadow to alter the conditions of the course while a player is

I think saying that a shadow "alters the condition of the course" is going too far. I agree he should contact the USGA, but as I said, I think they'll say he's fine so long as he's not actually assisting.

After all, who is to say whether standing there was accidental or not? I agree with Rafi in that it's likely simply a question of etiquette. The "course" isn't altered - the way the sunlight hits the course is, but that's really stretching things, IMHO.
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It would be my opinion that casting a shadow to eliminate distractions would be much like using an unbrella over the player or the line of the putt. I have written the USGA for an opinion.
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  • 8 years later...

I can't believe I'm jumping in this thread 8 years later, but I don't see how this isn't a violation of 14.2. Look at Decision 14-2/0.5:

Q.What are considered "elements" under Rule 14-2a?

A.Elements include sunlight , rain, wind, snow and other weather conditions.

-Greg

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I can't believe I'm jumping in this thread 8 years later, but I don't see how this isn't a violation of 14.2. Look at Decision 14-2/0.5:

Q.What are considered "elements" under Rule 14-2a?

A.Elements include sunlight, rain, wind, snow and other weather conditions.

-Greg

I suspect you're right.

Imagine a situation where you're hitting over a hill into the setting sun.  Your friend stands off to the side on top of the hill, purposely blocking the sun from your vision.  I'm sure that would be considered assisting as well.

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I can't believe I'm jumping in this thread 8 years later, but I don't see how this isn't a violation of 14.2. Look at Decision 14-2/0.5:

Q.What are considered "elements" under Rule 14-2a?

A.Elements include sunlight, rain, wind, snow and other weather conditions.

-Greg

I would not agree with that. See the decisions below.

14-2/2.5

Player Positions Bag for Purpose of Providing Shade for Ball

Q.A player positions his golf bag near the teeing ground for the purpose of blocking the sunlight from the position where he tees his ball. He then makes a stroke. Is he in breach of Rule 14-2?

A.Yes. As the player was not in contact with the golf bag, he accepted protection from the elements in breach of Rule 14-2a. This answer differs from that in Decision 14-2/2 as, in that case, the player was in contact with the umbrella.

While a player may not place an object or position a person for the purpose of blocking the sunlight from his ball, he may ask a person (e.g., a spectator) who is already in position not to move, so that a shadow remains over the ball, or to move, so that his shadow is not over the ball.

Also,

14-2/2

Player Holds Umbrella Over Own Head When Playing Stroke

Q.A player playing in the rain holds an umbrella over his head with one hand while holing a very short putt, gripping the putter with the other hand. Is this permissible?

A.Yes. Rule 14-2a prohibits a player, while making a stroke, from accepting protection from the elements from someone other than himself. However, it does not prohibit him from protecting himself.

Basically rule 14.2 is about accepting outside assistance. Meaning a shadow is part of the golfer, hence he is allowed to protect himself from the elements. This is why golfer are allowed to wear rain gear, warmer clothing and sunglasses.

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I would not agree with that. See the decisions below.

Basically rule 14.2 is about accepting outside assistance. Meaning a shadow is part of the golfer, hence he is allowed to protect himself from the elements. This is why golfer are allowed to wear rain gear, warmer clothing and sunglasses.

Yeah, but in the OP, the golfer purposely positioned his shadow to assist his partner.  If he happened to just be standing there and his partner asked him not to move, fine.  Or if his partner asked him to move away, fine.  But to allow him to purposely position his shadow to assist in eliminating distractions, I don't see how that's not a violation.

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Yeah, but in the OP, the golfer purposely positioned his shadow to assist his partner.  If he happened to just be standing there and his partner asked him not to move, fine.  Or if his partner asked him to move away, fine.  But to allow him to purposely position his shadow to assist in eliminating distractions, I don't see how that's not a violation.

Quote:

While a player may not place an object or position a person for the purpose of blocking the sunlight from his ball, he may ask a person (e.g., a spectator) who is already in position not to move, so that a shadow remains over the ball, or to move, so that his shadow is not over the ball.

Not entirely sure. @Rulesman might have better insight on that. He tends to be the go to guy for posts about rules on the forum.

I think it depends on the match. If the partner is actually apart of that person's match like Foursomes play, then I would think this would be a breach in the rules.

If he is talking Partner in terms of just being on the same team, but not directly in the same match. Example would be having two man teams, but each member plays their own individual matches. Winning team is just the outcome of the two matches plus tiebreakers after the fact. I don't see it as a penalty because that person is not really a partner in the match.

The direct decision is the player himself positioning the person with the intent to block the sun. No where does it say that anyone else can't do it, well as long as it isn't a caddie.

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Your opponent was correct.  Rule 14-2a prohibits such action.  Specifically:

14-2 . Assistance

a . Physical Assistance and Protection from Elements

A player must not make a stroke while accepting physical assistance or protection from the elements.

Further elaboration is provided in Decision 14-2/2.5 -- Player Positions Bag for providing shade for ball

Q. A player positions his golf bag near the teeing ground for the purpose of blocking the sunlight from the position where he tees his ball. He then makes a stroke. Is he in breach of Rule 14-2 ?

A. Yes. As the player was not in contact with the golf bag, he accepted protection from the elements in breach of Rule 14-2a . This answer differs from that in Decision 14-2/2 as, in that case, the player was in contact with the umbrella.

While a player may not place an object or position a person for the purpose of blocking the sunlight from his ball, he may ask a person (e.g., a spectator) who is already in position not to move, so that a shadow remains over the ball, or to move, so that his shadow is not over the ball.

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