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self standing putter

Are self standing putters legal?

Social media went into a frenzy when it appeared on tour, but this unusual putter will eventually be limited by the Rules of Golf. Steve Carroll explains

 

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.

You can use your self standing putter for the time being – but not for long

About six weeks after this new Rule was first 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 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 on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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