Social media went into a frenzy when it appeared on tour, but now the 2023 Rules of Golf update has seemingly spelled its demise. Steve Carroll explains

The Rules of Self Standing Putters

It brought Rick Shiels nearly half a million video views on YouTube and almost broke Twitter when former baseball pitcher John Smoltz sashayed into a green with one at the Diamond Resorts Tournaments of Champions back in 2020.

Golfers couldn’t believe the self standing putter, which stood up on its own and allowed you to check if you were lined up, was legal. And it seemed the circus was about to come to an abrupt end after the R&A and USGA moved to limit its use in the new 2023 Rules of Golf.

The flatstick itself isn’t banned, if it conforms to the governing bodies’ equipment rules, but the very point of its existence will eventually be snuffed out in a new clarification to Rule 10.2b.

That rule, among other things, stops players setting down objects to help with aiming, taking stance, or swinging, and the clarification (10.2b/1) specifically says the use of a self standing putter for alignment help is forbidden.

“The player (or their caddie) is not allowed to set such a putter down to get help in any way that would breach Rule 10.2b”.

If that wasn’t clear enough, the clarification goes further giving a detailed example of when you’ll now be breaking the rules if you’ve got such a putter in your bag.

“The player must not set the putter down in a standing position right behind or right next to the spot where the ball lies on the putting green to show the line of play or to help the player in taking their stance for the stroke in breach of Rule 10.2b (3).”

The penalty for not obeying is not inconsiderable – two shots in stroke play and loss of hole in match play.

Now if you’re gaming one of these flatsticks and you’re suddenly panicking, you don’t need to worry quite yet.

About six weeks after this new Rule was unveiled by the governing bodies, they brought in a new clarification that has delayed its implementation.

You’ll be able to carry on as you are until January 1, 2025.

But the clock is now ticking. And while the putter won’t be officially consigned to the scrapheap, even when these new limitations finally come into effect, it still feels like much of its purpose is in the sin-bin.

Another of golf’s more interesting experiments will soon come to an end.

What do you think about the self standing putter and the new clarification in the 2023 Rules of Golf? Why not let me know with a tweet.

This article was edited on December 19, 2022 to reflect the new clarification issued by the R&A and USGA.

More on the 2023 Rules of Golf update

We’ve painstakingly been through every update to make sure you have everything you need to know about the biggest changes, from penalties in Stableford, handicaps on scorecards, back-on-the-line relief, and much, much more.

Rules of Golf podcast

Steve Carroll and Tom Irwin sat down to discuss the 2023 updates on the From the Clubhouse podcast.

Listen in the player below, or on your preferred podcast platform.

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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