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Handicap Index

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  1. I think most of us know that you cannot stand on the extension of the line of play or putt of someone on your side (your caddie cannot stand there, you cannot stand there for your partner's shot, etc.). It's also poor etiquette (it's in the Rules' "Etiquette" section) to stand on the line of putt of anyone else, but that's also pretty common sense. It's also poor etiquette to stand really close to a fellow competitor while they're playing a shot. Again, most people know that. They also know you're not supposed to distract another player, and so on and so forth… But what's perfectly legal is to stand behind (i.e. basically on the extension of the line of putt behind the ball) to observe a player hitting a putt. In fact, I will advise my college players to do this, under the condition that they're WAY back so as not to possibly distract the person putting the ball. I also advise them that if the player asks them even once to move, that they step to the side enough to satisfy (and stop standing there the rest of the round), and then do the usual dumb dance where players rush in to stand on that extension of the line right after the stroke is made. What I don't get is how people are upset by this. Yet it happens. For example… My player has an eight-foot putt from 6:45. His fellow competitor has a ten-footer from 7:15. My player stands 30 or 35 feet back of the player, unmoving. In that case, I think he's in the clear. Hell, someone could stand 10' back of me, on a 10' putt, and I'm not gonna notice them if they're still and silent. 30' is more than enough room. But people feel like this is "cheating," somehow. Many people, despite me saying "I think most of us know…" above, think that the rule is actually the opposite: that your partner can stand there, but your opponents cannot. I've heard "that doesn't make sense - why should your opponent or fellow competitor benefit but your partner cannot?" when I've told people what the rule actually says. IMO, standing 30' back is better than standing 10' back and 3' to the side… and then rushing to step in behind the line when the player hits the putt. I wouldn't care. Sometimes you get lucky, and you "get a read" from someone. I'd rather someone stand still 30' back (or even 15' back) than stand close by but eager to jump in behind me to watch my ball roll. Hell, I honestly don't care where they stand so long as it's not in my field of view. But some people are uptight about this. As with most things, I feel I understand both the nature of the rules and the rules themselves. I understand and appreciate the unwritten rules, too, I feel. This practice violates neither - I'm not advising anyone to stand anywhere near where someone can see them, and they move less than someone who steps in from just behind. Yet players object to this more than seems normal to me, and I'm trying to understand why. And also, perhaps a little, to point out that you too can stand there (and that if you do that with me, so long as I can't see you or hear you, I couldn't care less).
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