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Texas Scramble

Can we stand behind a partner and watch them putt in a Texas Scramble?

Does this fun format allow you to bend the Rules of Golf in your favour? Our guru takes a look
 

It’s like watching a human caterpillar when groups in Texas Scrambles get onto the green. Who hasn’t seen – or been part of – a game where a team-mate is putting and everyone else is lined up behind trying to get a read on where that putt is going to go?

It can be pretty key information when you’re playing a format whose low scoring nature depends on you making lots of putts.

We know in the Rules there are limitations on when we can deliberately stand “on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball”.

It’s written for caddies in Rule 10.2b (4) and it’s extended in the Rules surrounding fourball and foursome play to prohibit a player doing it, when their partner is making a stroke, to “gain information” for their next stroke.

So does that also apply to a Texas Scramble, or are the rules ignored in what is essentially a fun format?

Lots of people think Texas Scrambles, and other forms of play like Greensomes and Modified Stablefords, aren’t covered in the Rules of Golf because you won’t find them written down in Rules 1 to 25.

But that’s not quite true. If you check out the Committee Procedures found in the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf, you’ll see they’re mentioned in Section 9.

There’s quite a vague paragraph, which states: “Detailed modifications to Rules 1-25 that are required for these formats are detailed at RandA.org”.

If you can find any for Texas Scrambles, please feel free to point them in my direction – as I’ve spent more time than anybody should putting terms into search engines to locate them.

Section 9 goes on: “Any situation that is not covered either by the Rules of Golf or by the additional modifications for the format being played, should be decided by the Committee: Considering all the circumstances, and treating the situation in a way that is reasonable, fair and consistent with how similar situations are treated under the Rules and modified Rules for the format.”

Does that cover it? Is this situation already covered in the existing rules? I’ve posed this Texas Scramble question to a number of experienced referees, and they were of the opinion that if you’re playing to the Rules of Golf – if it says so in the Terms of Competition, for example – then you can’t stand behind the line and watch your team-mates putt. Personally? This is how I proceed in the format.

I’ve also seen the same question posed on rules groups, though, with differing opinions. And we know there are competitions where the practice happens, such as the family-led PNC Championship on the PGA Tour.

As it’s not an acceptable score for handicapping purposes, should fun trump the strict implementation of the Rules? Ultimately, it may be up to your committee to decide. As always, you can never go wrong if you check beforehand.

How have you applied the Texas Scramble rules? Let me know with a tweet.

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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