Golfers sometimes fall out with their fellow competitors, or opponents, over where they should stand on the putting green while putts are being made. In my opinion, regardless of where they stand it is more important that they should remain absolutely silent and motionless while anyone is making their stroke.
You may be surprised to find out that there is only one Rule of Golf that restricts where a player may stand when putts are being made and this only concerns a player’s partner, their caddie and their partner’s caddie, not a fellow competitor, an opponent or their caddies.
Rule 14-2b states;
A player must not make a stroke with his caddie, his partner or his partner’s caddie positioned on or close to an extension of the line of play or line of putt behind the ball.
Exception: There is no penalty if the player’s caddie, his partner or his partner’s caddie is inadvertently located on or close to an extension of the line of play or line of putt behind the ball.
The effect of this is that a player may stand anywhere else on the putting green without incurring a penalty, including behind the hole (i.e. with the hole immediately between them and where the ball is being putted from).
However, the section on etiquette at the front of the Rules book makes two other recommendations relevant to this subject;
- Players should not stand close to or directly behind the ball, or directly behind the hole, when a player is about to play.
- Players should not stand on another player’s line of putt or, when they are making a stroke, cast a shadow over their line of putt.
There is one other ruling that is relevant to this subject and it is found in Decision 14-2/3;
Question: May a player’s caddie purposely stand between the player and the setting sun so that the sun’s glare is not in the player’s face while he is playing a stroke?
Answer: No. Such procedure is a breach of Rule 14-2A.
Naturally, the above restriction also applies to a player’s partner, their partner’s caddie and a fellow competitor. Similarly, a player may not request an outside agency to put their ball in the shade with their shadow, though they may ask them to stand aside in order to ensure that their shadow does not move and distract them as they make their stroke.
My recommendation is that if you feel that someone is standing on the putting green in a position that may disturb or distract you, delay making your stroke and courteously ask them to move to a less intrusive position.